Genre: High Fantasy/Adventure/Romance
First off, this book has a cliffhanger, so if you're invested in the characters from the get-go, just buy the second book as well. You won't be disappointed. Just trust me on this. Power of Conviction is the first book in the Prime Series.
I won't rehash the story, as the blurb explains the deal pretty well. We have Anaya, a priestess with magical powers who is loyal to her Priesthood and isn't afraid to make difficult decisions. And we have Samael, a wayward demon who isn't afraid to disobey the rules of demonkind.
The story starts off as a fairly standard fantasy, with Anaya bathing in a river and being being spied on by the slinky demon, who ratchets up the sexy scale considerably by being a panther shifter. After that, she sees him more than she should, and gradually gets to find out more about him.
Meanwhile, there is a lovely set of side characters to enjoy, including lovable rogue Edric, Anaya's best friend, Lenda and warrior Vixen, who knows what she wants and is determined to get it. They each have terrific stories of their own, some of them pretty harrowing, but it is Anaya and Samael's story which is at the forefront.
The author doesn't shy away from tough topics like historical abuse, bloody violence and sexual assault, but there are trigger warnings in place for these. What I loved most of all, apart from the sexual chemistry between Anaya and Samael, was the veering away from the Good v Evil dynamic, asking instead what would happen if the enemy wasn't all it seemed? It is a great way of confronting prejudices and historical norms, questioning what had always been and fighting for justice even if it flies against everything you've ever been taught.
Anaya has to tackle all these issues, whilst the High Priest is OD'ing on demon juice "for the good of the town," and getting perverse pleasure out of doing it. This book is bawdy, funny, sexy as hell and unashamedly bloody. To paraphrase a famous fictional king, "some of you may die, but it's a price I (the author) am willing to take."
In short, this book was a wild ride I wasn't expecting. I love the world the author has created and the characters she has populated it with. And I LOVED the way the story kicked the ass of normal fantasy tropes and turned them on their heads.
My only minor quibble is the ending, which wasn't rounded off as tidily as I would have liked, but that was okay because I was able to buy the second book IMMEDIATELY and find out what happened to Anaya and Samael next!
The Darkness was closing in over the Midlands, with the Priesthood being the only one daring to stand up against its terrifying presence.
Trained in the arts of the Light, the priests walked a bloodied path through the scores of demons, seeking to rid the world of their unholy presence. But the fight against demonkind was becoming increasingly perilous, and danger rose to threaten the Priesthood’s very survival.
The priestess Anaya stands resolute in her conviction. Despite the dangers she must endure along her dedicated path, her unwavering faith in the Goddess and Her divine supremacy doesn’t falter. She’s set on following the orders of her High Priest, no matter how gruesome.
Until one day, when all her beliefs are challenged…
A fateful meeting with the elusive demon Samael opens the doors to doubt and Anaya begins to question the very path of the Priesthood and of all those steadfast in the preachings of the Goddess.
Were they wrong about demonkind? Was her purpose in life truly for naught?
The Prime Series contains subjects and scenes that depict violence, torture, consequences of prolonged sexual abuse, emotional scars and suffering, as well as mature language and steamy scenes. It is therefore intended for a mature audience. The Prime Series is perfect for readers who enjoy High and Epic Fantasy with dark undertones and a touch of romance.