Thursday, August 7, 2014

Book Tour for Master of the Game by Jane Kindred (Review & GIVEAWAY)

Throughout the Demons of Elysium series I've been intrigued by its vivid worldbuilding, intense sensuality, and clever and original depictions of angels and demons.  It's sad that we've reached the end but I'm excited to bring you the engrossing conclusion, Master of the Game by Jane Kindred.  Keep reading to get a taste of this book, along with my impressions of it, and learn even more about this book by visiting the other blogs hosting this tour.  Make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a beautiful silver pendant inspired by the book and a $25 Amazon GC too!

The main players in the Demons of Elysium series are Belphagor—a cardsharp, thief, and master gambler—and Vasily, a muscle-bound firespirit whom Belphagor calls his “malchik”: Russian for “boy.”
But Belphagor and Vasily, who graced the covers of Books 1 and 2, don’t appear on the cover of Book 3, Master of the Game. That honor goes to Silk, whom I can only describe as a sort of male “femme fatale” of the Demon District. Silk, like his name, is exquisitely smooth. He plays everyone from time to time, even Belphagor, which is no small feat. It comes as second nature to him, born of self-preservation.
Each of the demons in this story grew up on the streets, surviving the best way they knew how. Like Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union, Elysium is full of such streetchildren. Both Belphagor and Vasily began careers as rent boys while they were in their teens, choosing that path for various reasons, but choosing it voluntarily. Silk is one of the “Lost Boys” who never had that choice.
If you haven’t read Book 2 in the series, King of Thieves, Idon’t want to spoil anything else for you, except to say that Silk obviously plays a significant part, since he’s on the cover of Book 3. What I will say is that readers and reviewers tend to be leery of Silk. They seem find him fascinating, but they don’t trust him. And with good reason.
Even I don’t entirely know whether to believe this character half the time. That may sound like an odd thing to say; I should know everything about him, right? I created him. But let me share one of the secrets about writers: we’re not always in control of our own creations. Most of the time, they take us along for a wild ride, leading us on a merry chase right to the end.
But even though I may not have Silk completely figured out, he’s one of my favorite characters to write. If you’ve seen the BBC series, Orphan Black—and if you haven’t, OMG, what are you waiting for? Go stream it now—imagine the character Felix Dawkins (played brilliantly by Jordan Gavaris) for a moment without the British accent.(Or what the heck, imagine him with it. Who’s to say what kind of accent they have in Elysium?) His mannerisms and his look are very much how I picture Silk.
Regardless of whether you’re a fan of Silk, and regardless of whether you end up trusting him or not, he’s a demon who leaves an impression. And not unlike Belphagor, he has a few surprises up his sleeve.

Love is the ultimate game changer…and this time it’s winner take all.
Now that his lover is back in his arms, Belphagor is taking his own sweet time to say the words Vasily longs to hear: “You’re my boy.” And savoring the sweet torture of driving the firespirit into a frenzy of unfulfilled need.
As the undisputed master of Heaven’s gaming tables, Belphagor never plays unless he’s certain of winning. But this time, political machinations send the game—and Vasily—tumbling to the brink of even his formidable control.
Vasily can’t deny enjoying their delightfully edgy play—until the airspirit auctions him off for a night to the one demon with a gift for taking things too far. Seductive Silk, tight-lipped about the end of his relationship with the sweet submissive Phaleg, may also be involved with a new faction threatening the pregnant queen of Heaven.
Belphagor couldn’t be less interested in the games angels play, but when angelic and demonic intrigues overlap, he’s drawn in against his will. And forced to break his one inviolable rule: Never gamble what you can’t afford to lose.


Belphagor’s reputation had taken another hit, but Vasily had come out of the previous evening’s adventure with exactly what Belphagor had hoped to secure: the indignation—on Vasily’s behalf—of both fellow workers and patrons of the Stone Horse. He left Vasily to his own devices, lunching with rent boys to gain their ear, while Belphagor took Silk aside on the pretext of discussing business.
Silk ushered him to his private parlor and closed the sliding doors onto the outer room, turning about with a look of professional interest and nothing more. “What can I do for you, Belphagor?” It was as polite and cool a reception as Silk had ever given him.
“I came to apologize.”
This took Silk aback, his hands dropping from the door handles behind him.
“I put you on the spot last night, and it wasn’t fair. I didn’t really care for the spectacle you were making of Vasily, but I did say you could do as you pleased with him, and it was up to him to use his safe word if he wasn’t comfortable—although I ought to have established that between the three of us as well. So for my awkward handling of the situation and my inappropriate reaction, I apologize.”
Silk’s hands slipped into the pockets of his tailored suit. “Thank you.” The velvety gray eyes observed him for a moment. “Can I ask you something?” Belphagor inclined his head. “About Phaleg. I… Did he tell you what I did?”
Belphagor took a seat on the divan and set his legs apart with his hands on his knees—a habit from the world of Man meant to display the tattoos on his fingers and the backs of his hands in an implied threat, though they had little meaning in Heaven. “Major Phaleg is an angel of the utmost discretion. He told me only that things hadn’t worked out between the two of you. But it seems fairly clear to me that you hurt him in some way, and I believe I warned you that you’d answer to me if any harm came to him as a result of your association.”
“I drew blood.” Silk wrapped his arms around himself as he blurted the words. “He never told me to stop, just let me beat on him until I drew blood. And it made me angry.”
“Injuring Phaleg made you angry at him.”
“Because he was just going to lie there and take it like I was some kind of monster—like I wanted that!”
“And did you?”
The gray eyes flashed with fury and Silk stepped forward in challenge, but stopped, his expression conflicted. “I…did.” Silk’s face went pale. “I wanted to keep going. Heaven help me,” he murmured, reminiscent of Phaleg. “Why would I want that?”
Belphagor considered, drawing on memories he hadn’t touched in decades. They were memories he wasn’t proud of. “Revenge?”
“Revenge?” Silk looked ill.
“Against someone other than Phaleg. Someone Phaleg reminds you of, perhaps, or whom your encounters with Phaleg remind you of. When I was a young demon in the world of Man, I had some experiences I don’t like to think about. I’ve never told Vasily, nor will I tell him, so you’ll keep this between us.” His tone allowed for no disagreement.
“But when I had the opportunity to treat others with the same brutality, I didn’t think twice. I lashed out, trying to punish the ones who had made me downcast, trying to take my revenge on men who were no longer there. Where I was—the Russian gulag, they called it, the Zona—violence and brutality were the only languages anyone understood. It took me a long time to unlearn that language. And longer than that—much longer—to learn that my desire to cause a demon pain in the act of mutual pleasure didn’t make me what I’d been taught to be in the Zona. And it didn’t make me the boy who’d suffered without consent at the hands of others taking their own misplaced revenge.”
Silk sank onto the cushions of the chair perpendicular to the divan while Belphagor spoke. His head hung forward, the carefully oiled hair falling over his face. “I didn’t want to do that to Phaleg. I didn’t want him to make me that demon. That’s why I sent him away.”
“So he doesn’t know what he’s done to anger you.”
Silk shook his head, defeated. “I mocked him and treated him scornfully. If you wish to thrash me for it, you’re well within your rights.”
“Silk.” He reached out and laid a hand on the young demon’s knee. “I have no desire to punish you for making a mistake. You’re certainly doing that quite well on your own. I think Phaleg is confused, though, and he ought to hear from you that he did nothing wrong.”
“If I tell him he did nothing wrong, I’ll have to tell him I did.”
“Shouldn’t you?”
Silk looked up, his eyes bitter. “He’ll hate me. Probably hates me already.”
“I doubt that. But even if he does, he deserves to know he wasn’t to blame. Give him the opportunity to forgive you. And in the future, you might try negotiating in advance and using a safe word when you find an angel or a demon who takes such total pleasure in sexual torment. They are rare individuals, to be treasured.”
“You seem to know a great deal about sexual torment.”
Belphagor grinned from one side of his mouth. “I’ve made a lifetime of studying it, my dear boy. Practice makes perfect.”

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It's been a tumultuous journey reaching this final installment in the Demons of Elysium series.  One full of provocative sexuality, political intrigue, child slavery, and a complex hierarchy of demons and angels that has us seeing them in a whole new light.  While this story deals with a rebellion similar to that of Tsar Nicholas it's the romance between two couples, Belphagor and Vasily and Phaleg and Silk, that is the centerpiece as they all try to make amends and find their individual HEAs.  

Belphagor and Vasily are trying to rebuild their relationship that has been battered and bruised in the previous installments due to trust issues.  It doesn't go smoothly though as Belphagor enjoys making Vasily work for forgiveness as does Vasily himself.  These two are delightful together with a strong sexual tug of war constantly waging between them that I couldn't get enough of.  Phaleg and Silk are also dealing with a rocky relationship that has their differences creating conflict as Phaleg has trouble embracing his submissive side considering his high rank in the military.  As a former rent boy Silk has issues too that has them at odds and doubting their feelings.  These demons and angels are far from perfect and their human foibles made them easy to relate to.  Their relationships were highly sexual with lots of D/s and BDSM scenes that take you right to the edge.  Amongst these relationships is the culmination of all the political issues and hierarchy machinations previously witnessed that add tension and suspense to a story that already had me on edge with intensity on every level.

The worldbuilding here is intriguing as always and helps readers fully immerse themselves in this story.  It's an entertaining blend of historical Russia and a fantasy world full of larger than life characters.  Where the previous book became a bit confusing with all it's spy versus spy this one nicely balances the political intrigue and the sexiness.  It's a fast read that's immensely satisfying in its conflict between angels and demons and I highly recommend it for its exotic feel and sexual intensity.  It's a story that you can easily lose yourself in and I'm saddened that the thrill ride is over.

My rating for this is an A.

*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Jane Kindred is the author of The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy, the Demons of Elysium series, and The Devil’s Garden. Born in Billings, Montana, she spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.

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  1. Thanks so much for having me on the blog today and for the lovely review. :)

  2. I love this series, can't wait for this newest installation!