It is with utmost pleasure that we welcome Heidi Cullinan with
The Devil Will Do
In a land unforgiving of indulgent, dangerous sex, merchantman Eryn does his best to keep his desires in the dark…until the plight of a beautiful prince leads him out of the shadows and into adventures both sensual and terrible.
Capture, curse, and torture litter Eryn’s road to true love, along with carnal delights beyond his most wicked imaginings. His strengths and limitations are exposed—and the hard truth, that nothing holds him back more than the monster of self-loathing in his heart. Prince Wyn might be everything he’s dreamed of in a man—and master—but before Eryn can accept the exquisitely wicked affections of his one true love, he must first save himself…from himself.
This novella was originally published under the title Sweet Son and has been significantly revised.
As you may know, I tend to devour anything and everything Heidi puts out, and when this little treasure came up for a tour and an ARC, I signed up faster than you can blink.
Because - you know - Heidi-freaking-Cullinan!
Fair warning - this isn't the kind of book I've come to expect from this author. But it also is. Lemme explain...
In her kinky, twisted fairytales (magic and illusions included), Heidi tends to cast an unlikely hero in the hero slots. We saw this in Miles & The Magic Flute, and we saw his in Hero. This novel is no different in that aspect, though Eryn is probably even less a likely hero than Miles or Hal, respectively, but it's probably because Eryn is such an unlikely hero that the book's message comes across so clearly.
With The Devil Will Do, Heidi also kicked up the kink-o-meter a few hundred notches, and this book was deliciously depraved. There's humiliation, shame, public display, anal training, demon sex, and most of it is non-con or dub-con at best.
Though - and this has to be made clear - none of it is for titillation purposes, none of it is to excite the reader. Every scene, every act is part of Eryn's journey to learn his own true self and, first and foremost, learn self-acceptance.
And yet, despite the kink, the book retains its fairytale qualities as well. It has a magical quality to it, almost ethereal, dreamlike. The writing flows easily, and while the kink is ever present, it's never described in too much detail - what's important, what is pointed out time and again, is Eryn's path to believing in his own worth.
Eryn's dreams of his fair-skinned prince, his true love, are what set him off on his journey. What he learns on his quest is profound and life-altering.
What stood out for me the most is that this twisted tale of kink is at its very core a love story, a romance. The lengths to which Eryn goes to rescue Wyn, his fated true love, his prince, are extraordinary, and that, my friends, is what makes this book deserve every single star I gave it.
Yeah, it's very kinky. And yeah, I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Again, fair warning. This book isn't for everyone, but if you don't mind (or if you enjoy) the kind of kink included here, please give this a try.
In preparation for this tour stop, I asked Heidi some questions:
You made Eryn seem weak in the early parts of the book, especially when he looks at himself. He's full of doubt, full of fear, and his mind is his greatest adversary. What did you hope to convey when you wrote him this way? What can your readers learn from his journey?
I have a thing for characters who don’t believe in their own heroism, and it’s definitely a philosophy of mine that we can all be heroic if we would only get out of our own way. For The Devil Will Do specifically, I wanted Eryn to walk through the grisly forest of navigating personal questions about his own desires while also battling judgment from society. That’s always bothered me, this idea that we have to legitimately sort out our own personal mess while fending off the harping of outsiders who aren’t interested in helping us, only getting us out of their view of the world.
What readers learn from Eryn is their own business. What I wanted him to be was a hero who doubted, who felt unsure, and who found his heroism not by magic or changing but realizing his own worth. What that means to individual readers is definitely out of my purview, but I do hope they enjoy it.
There’s a “reveal” in the story that isn’t terribly difficult to figure out. Did you do that on purpose?
I’m not much of a mystery writer, and no, I didn’t ever intend that-which-is-revealed to be a huge ta-dah. Part of the lure of romance is there aren’t a ton of mysteries. You know it will end happily, you know who will get together, and you can usually guess how. I was a lot more interested in showing Eryn not getting it. I probably actually made it more obvious what was what to the reader this time, but that was me trying to amp up the romance arc. It turns out it’s pretty difficult to lead readers through a romance when one of the heroes spends most of the book in a coma.
I found it interesting that you made the difference between dub-con/non-con and BDSM a clear point in this book. What made you want to do that? What can the uninitiated learn from this?
I’m not sure what people can learn, and I don’t know that I’m qualified enough to be that teacher. I did want to show a distinction between embracing one’s personal kink and being able to say, “No, that’s actually not what I want.” My goal was to highlight Eryn’s desires and his choice. By the end he’s actually enduring quite a lot, in sex and in general everything, but he’s doing it by his choice. We drive a lot of people needlessly into the dark because it’s easier to paint lines on the floor.
Also, originally I wrote this book in part to try to understand pain better. I’d been writing it already, particularly in Miles and the Magic Flute, but I still saw pain as my enemy. The man I wrote this book for, who also suffered chronic pain but also could take pleasure from it, talked with me a lot about that dichotomy. I kept saying, “I can’t understand how you can live with pain but also love pain.” Even then I got intellectually it was about control and reclaiming, but I didn’t understand it the way I wanted to. Writing Eryn and Wyn was part of my journey to the other side of understanding. So I suppose a psychologist would say the dub-con/non-con/BDSM triad is me trying to work out my own head case. Which is probably valid.
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"Hold Yourself open wide for me, slave." When Eryn didn't move immediately, the pasha slapped his rump. "Show me your rose, and let me see how happy it is at my claiming."
*rolls back eyes in ecstasy*
This book is certainly not for everyone. In fact, I wasn't sure when I agreed to review it that it would be for me. I'm not such a big fan of dub-con or non-con, and I had heard that this story was DARK. I'm not sure if most people read this book before it was heavily revised, but this book was less dark than it was darkly erotic. It caters to a certain kink, and it is one of my favorites. Let's hear a big round of applause for humiliation kink, ladies and gentleman! This book was right up my alley.
I love how Heidi just goes for it. She is wonderfully, deliciously depraved. I have a decidedly freaky-deaky side, and Heidi tapped right into that. If the idea of group sex, being used in front of a group of people, anal training, double penetration, enema play, slave training, dub-con, and humiliation appeals to you, then you probably will enjoy this story. I enjoyed this story. Many. Times.
I also really liked the fairytale quality of this book. I have a thing for light fantasy of this nature, like Truth in the Dark, and I was sucked right into the story. Sure, this book is largely about sex and, sure, the plot didn't make complete sense, but I didn't really care. I was completely absorbed, and I couldn't put this book down all day.
Though this book is super kinky, it is romantic at it's core. There is a HEA and fated-love kind of romance. However, you have to keep sort of an open mind to get there.
I'm welcoming this book to my favorites of the year list with open arms!
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About the author:
Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren't enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and teenaged daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at www.heidicullinan.com.
A copy of the book was provided at no charge to both Sandra and Heather. Positive reviews were not promised in return. Materials for this post, including book cover and other book related images were provided by the author.
Buylink is provided as a courtesy to the reader. We are not affiliated with Heidi Cullinan or Wilde City Press.