Title: A Demon for Midwinter
Author: K.L. Noone
Publisher: JMS Books
Characters: Kris, Justin
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, paranormal
Kris Starr used to be famous. Rock and roll. Sold-out shows. Literal magic. Empathic talents and screaming fans.
But he has a problem or two. He’s having a hard time writing new music. It’s Midwinter, which means he’s surrounded by depressing holiday cheer. And he’s in love with Justin, his manager, who has a talent for rescuing almost- or once-famous bands … and who’s hiding secrets of his own.
Justin Moore, on the other hand, is very good at keeping those secrets — he’s had to be for years. One secret involves a demonic inheritance that would make him a target of suspicion. Another involves his past.
And the third involves Justin’s feelings for Kris Starr, rock and roll icon and now his client … and a powerful empath of his own.
A Demon for Midwinter takes place in a world where magic exists, but instead of being a skill you can learn or hone, people are born with varying degrees of natural ability. Kris Starr is an aging rock star with such an ability and it’s so strong he’s made a career off of it. But that was more than a decade ago. In present day, he’s barely clinging to relevancy and giving his manager, Justin Moore, a hard time. But that all changes when events set Justin’s world on its head, putting Kris in a position of responsibility for the first time in his adult life.
It’s worth noting that a big plot point of this book revolves around domestic violence and you are given a description of it and see the after effects In case that is something that concerns you. That aside, I found it difficult to get into A Demon for Midwinter due to the style it’s written in. Noone is very fond of simile and metaphor, but the level of usage often hurts the story more than it helps. Instead of creating a more vivid picture, they impeded the flow of the story, giving it a jagged, ungainly feel. I spent a good chunk of time wondering what was being said in certain passages, what the use of gemstones or light or cinnamon (of which this text is lush with) was helping express in this part or that. This happened so often that after awhile I started skipping over the more length descriptions to move the story along, which was no easy task. But there is some very pretty imagery; they just need patience to uncover them, like diamonds.
The dialogue also suffered in a similar way, often rambling and lacking focus and I was unsure of what I was supposed to get from these exchanges. In some places, I think I understand what the author was going for—to make the text read exactly how it would be heard, as if spoken. But what was meant to come across as, for example, confused befuddlement was only aggravating when translated onto the page. When that doesn’t happen, the dialogue is often very organic and natural. I wish there was more of it.
If all of the above issues happened more sparingly, like at a moment of significance or something worth remembering, they would have been less problematic for me. As it stands, they happen so frequently that they bleed together and make for a challenging read.
The plot was fairly straightforward and focused in scope, and I enjoyed it, but there were a number of things that kept me from getting into it as much as I would have liked. One hurdle was the anthropomorphizing of objects. The first time it happened, when a rock glares at someone after being kicked, I wasn’t sure if it was hyperbole. But then it kept happening with shuddering dumpsters and sympathetic furniture and after much confusion I realized that yes, these random objects are alive and doing these things and no one really seems to notice enough for it to explicitly be pointed out. But I wasn’t sure what it was offering to the story.
There was a lot in this book that wasn’t for me, and I feel I should touch on a few points briefly in case someone else falls into the same camp so they aren’t blindsided by it:
While May-December romances aren’t my thing, I was able to suspend my personal preference to get through the book, but not without the occasional speedbump. There are a number of times when Kris, the elder of the two, points out their differences in age in an odd way. Not so much in a way that showed him having reservations about pursuing a romance with someone 15 years his junior, but as it shows him seeing Justin as even younger than he is. Several times he talks about Justin in a way that portrays him as physically appears more childlike. And he still goes after him. But I did appreciate that Kris did have a moment of pause, no matter how briefly it lasted. That added a layer of realism, and while this is largely based in fantasy, I felt it was a nice touch.
Characters’ sexual history. I’m an adult, I know that most people do not exist in a vacuum, waiting for their chosen person, but the way this is done, put me off. Most of the heat in the book (of which there is very little) relied on hearing about Justin’s past exploits. Kris’ are brought up, but only to show him as he is: on the wrong side of 40 and looking back on his life with knowledge he wished he’d had then. With Justin, it’s more just a quantitative list and while I can see, in a certain light, that it’s meant to show a part of his character, I don’t agree with how it’s done. As this book focuses on Kris and Justin’s relationship, I wanted more heat between them, and not just from Kris’ POV. It gets steamy at the end with several scenes linked together, but I feel it would have been more enjoyable spread out, or, at the least, more natural if you could see through actions that they were heading this way rather than just being told it’s on the way(in so many words at one point.) This might not bother the average reader, but I felt it should be mentioned as it happens repeatedly.
One last thing I took issue with, and I’m sure I might be alone in this, but is worth mentioning because it made me very uncomfortable was how the underage members of Justin’s family seemed to be privy to details of his sex life. They knew a lot, teasing him about sex toys and clothes they knew had been destroyed during some kinky activity. A few times when they appeared I had to take a break. There’s a deus ex machina for why they have this knowledge, but that doesn’t make it feel less uncomfortable.
There were things I did enjoy, like the introduction to Justin’s family which is very tight knit and welcoming. The idea of a blended family that actually gets along was refreshing.
All that said, regardless of my opinions and person issues with the book, if you’re interested in this, if the blurb speaks to you, then pick it up and give it a try. However, I strongly suggest you read a sample to see how you feel about the writing style first as that was a huge hurdle for me.
Reviewed By: Jet
Click HERE to purchase A Demon for Midwinter