Sunday, April 10, 2016

ARC Review: Damned If You Do by Marie Sexton

Damned If You Do
 The path to temptation is paved with a hellish amount of paperwork.

Soul acquisition is a drag, but if Abaddon doesn’t catch up on his quota, he could be demoted to scooping poop for the Hounds of Hell. With a deadline hanging over him, he heads for the Bible Belt, looking for the perfect combination of sweetness and challenge.

Seth is a blind musician, part of a traveling tent revival. He’s cute, mystically talented, and quotes the Bible at every turn. His soul is pure enough to fill Abaddon’s quota for months to come, and Abaddon is determined to claim it.

The problem? There’s the revival foreman who watches Abaddon’s every move. Then there’s the mystery of Seth’s many unusual talents. Lastly, there’s Abaddon himself. He’s beginning to like Seth a bit too much. Maybe Seth deserves something better than damnation.

But Hell’s agenda isn’t negotiable, and time is running out. If Abaddon doesn’t play his cards right, he could condemn both of them to the worst fate of all—an eternity apart.

Todd's rating:

This story of a soul collecting demon, hot on the heels of a preacher's son, was pretty cute and I think a many readers will really enjoy this one.

Abaddon is a pretty crappy demon, as demons go. He isn't all that evil and he's a bit like that one co-worker that you just want to slap most of the time. Only showing up for the paycheck, doing the bare minimum of work and letting others pick up the slack. His heart's just not in tricking people out of their immortal souls.

And Satan just noticed.

Meanwhile, at 22, Seth is pretty much the opposite in every way possible. After being abandoned under a piano bench as an newborn and raised by a tent revival reverend in the Bible Belt, Seth is about as devout as they come. Even after losing his sight on his 19th birthday, he doesn't see that as a punishment and continues to spout bible verses like an overly-polite person would spout "bless you's" at a pepper factory.

And Abaddon just found the motherlode of all souls in Seth, which will get himself back in Satan's good graces.

I loved the back and forth between the tempting Abaddon and the not-to-be-tempted Seth, even though Seth thinks the ploys for his soul are only a game in the beginning, much to his self-appointed protector Zed's complete horror.

But Abaddon never lies to Seth in regards to who and what he is. And what he wants. Seth's cotton candy sweet soul. It's all that Abaddon can think about once he's been in Seth's presence.

But then Abaddon's supposedly non-existent conscience rears its ugly head and messes up his plans to reap the brightest soul that he's ever seen. Which could put Abaddon himself directly in the path of Satan's wrath.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the two men develop a fondness for one another, that continued to grow into something much, much deeper.

I would, however, have liked a bit less running around all over Hell (very literally) and half of Georgia as Abaddon attempts to work out the details of a loophole to save Seth and allow them to be together. Forever. In Hell.

While we did get a good bit of interaction between Abaddon and Seth, I felt that the story could have used a bit more in that respect, as I still got a wee bit of an insta-love feeling when all was said and done.

I also loved the background story on Seth and how he came to be what he is in regards to his role during the roving tent revival sermons.

The first three-fourths of the story worked really well for me, but to be honest, "the big event" and its accompanying bible quote, which completely changed the course of both men's lives, left me a bit confounded as to what actually happened and how. What can I say, I've always sucked at interpreting Bible verses.

Overall, I'd say that this sweet and cute story rates about 3.75 stars for me and would recommend it to anyone looking for a non-preachy story of salvation and redemption.

And who isn't afraid of snakes. Because there are snakes.

Lots. And. Lots. Of. Snakes.

My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.

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