“The path to paradise begins in hell.” ― Dante Alighieri
Author: JJ Black
Publisher: Totally Bound
Pages/Word Count: 130 Pages
Rating: 3 Stars
Blurb: When you absolutely have to know…
Grayson Muir is a know-it-all. No, seriously…he really does know it all. The strength of his abilities has him rumored to be the most powerful Oracle in the world. Gray couldn’t care less. All his life, Gray has played by his own rules. Whether through his own private clients or his work with the police, his only goal has been to use his gift to help as many people and paras as he can. With abilities like Gray’s, he doesn’t have time for any distractions.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what he gets when Andreo Demos, a six-hundred-year-old Lust Demon, pays him an unexpected visit. Dreo has been sent by the Demon Council with an appeal for assistance. The Lord of the Underworld has been murdered, the Demon kingdom has been thrown into chaos and Gray’s help is needed to identify the murderer.
Gray has his doubts. Demons don’t have the best reputations, after all. Still, despite his reservations, there is something about Dreo that calls to him. Whether it’s his dark good looks or the startling knowledge that Dreo believes they are destined mates, Gray can’t help but agree to offer his assistance.
Unfortunately, their road to happiness isn’t destined to be an easy one. Between court intrigue, their own unexpected mating and a murderer still on the loose, they are definitely going to have their work cut out for them. What are the chances, they’ll get their happy ending? Ask the Oracle.
Review: It’s a pretty bold move to throw mythological canon aside and murder an immortal god, but that’s exactly what JJ Black does in Ask the Oracle, the story of Grayson Muir, the oracle in question, and the man who’s asked to look into—as in see—Lucifer’s death.
Andreo Demos is the demon who wants Gray in more ways than one. He wants Gray on the case, to use his gift of sight to help catch a killer, but Dreo has an ulterior motive too: as a lust demon, it’s entirely in his nature to also want Gray in his bed. The fact that it quickly becomes clear Gray is Dreo’s fated mate goes a long way to moving the relationship between the Demon and the Oracle along from sex to love without any build up in between.
Arriving in the Underworld quickly reveals that chaos isn’t far off, with a leaderless community of demons left to their own devices, and Hell on lockdown until the killer is caught and brought to justice. There’s danger and betrayal afoot as family secrets and misunderstandings cloud the facts, and greed and corruption become the basis for murder. What else would you expect from Hell spawn, after all? The author fills this story with plenty of intrigue and action—of both the dangerous and sexual variety—while throwing in a bit of humor too.
If you’re not a big fan of the mate bond trope that’s often used to supplant the actual building of intimacy in a relationship through dialogue and the sort of interaction that goes beyond sex—which I admit I’m not so much, so take that into consideration—then this probably isn’t the book for you. Dreo and Gray don’t get to know anything significant about each other on a personal level, so their connection felt very surface without much substance, which, while it kept the pace of the action fairly brisk, it didn’t leave me feeling invested enough in their relationship.
Where the book succeeds far better is in the whodunit, and the why they did it. There was some interesting world/character building done in this first installment of the series, and it’s a world big enough that there’s plenty of room for the author to flex her imagination and introduce even more elements of political and social intrigue as this realm of immortal beings gets up to who knows what—the possibilities are infinite—in future installments.