REVIEW: Master of the Game by Jane Kindred

MASTER OF THE GAME (DEMONS OF ELYSIUM #3)

Jane Kindred. August 5th 2014. Samhain Publishing, Ltd
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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.

Warning: Contains more than a mouthful of m/m ménage, with intense D/s situations featuring intricate rope work, balaklavas, and a flurry of snow.

REVIEW:

Finally! The end to the trilogy that had left me hot and bothered for months. I’ve been waiting for quite awhile for this book, I had so many questions I wanted to be answered and ,of course, some sexy time.

Did I get them? Yes.. and no.

As for the two previous books, the common theme of Belphagor and Vasily being somehow involved in the demon/angels politics which forcefully opened the can of worms of their relationship problem was still present. But somehow it lacked the punch and not as intense or powerful as the two books before it, Prince of Tricks and King of Thieves.

Maybe it was supposed to be a show of how the couple had grown up, maybe not. Which brought me to the second issue of how they didn’t seem to learn all that much from the previous drama! Oh how I wanted to strangle Belphagor in this book for being so pig-headed!

I know that this third instalment featured Silk and Phaleg in addition to Beli and Vasily as the main characters and I wish it didn’t. It made the development between Beli and his boy not deeply explored enough and left me wanting to see more of Silk and Phaleg. The whole thing seemed a bit rushed to me.

I wish to know more of Belphagor’s past and what he’d endured and to have a grand certainty that both of them had grown up and would be able to stay together forever and ever. Yeah well.

Ranting aside, it was a wonderful book and I’m happy at Silk and Phaleg’s conclusion. And of course, all the intense sex time which totally did not disappoint. Nope. I could five stars just for the sex. Yep. Especially at the end because sweet Phaleg please continue to blush beautifully.

“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.”

And as always I loved how Beli and Vasily interact when the world wasn’t throwing shit at them. Their dynamic is utterly unique and entertaining, they tackle trust issue and are more than your typical M/M I love you-you love me-we live HEA trope.

“Boy,” gasped Belphagor, “if I fuck you any harder, I’ll be on the other side of you.”

I really recommend this trilogy for a change of pace and some extremely hot reading. I look forward to more work from Ms.Kindred, she did a great job with this one. The universe is refreshing and I love the characters, I hope I get to see more of them somehow. A spin-off, please? 😀

And on a totally unrelated note, I really really wish they retained the same concept of the cover as the two previous books. This one looks out of place among them but just me being a designer bitching /facepalms.

RATING:

EXCERT:

The angel had been avoiding his eyes, but he met them now, and his blue ones—the color of the supernal celestine stone in the signet rings the nobles wore etched with the symbols of their houses—were full of heartache. “You said we were not to see one another again…after. And I accepted that. I understood your reasons. It was wise counsel. But then you summoned me and brought me back into your world, and I came. For you. You must have known I could never refuse you.”

“Phaleg—”

“I don’t regret it. It may not have been wise, my agreeing to be the front man in your enterprises, but I accepted with full knowledge of the risk. The Celestial Silk Road had to be closed. The fletchers needed to be stopped and brought to justice. But it was very difficult seeing you again.”

Belphagor rose and came close to the table. “I’m sorry. I’m a selfish demon. I thought perhaps I could keep you near without doing you harm so long as there was no intimacy between us. But I saw how cut off you were from what you needed and desired, and I thought perhaps Silk could give that to you. I made a mistake.”

“No.” Phaleg gave him a sad smile. “Nyet, ser. It wasn’t a mistake. It’s not your fault things didn’t work out between us. But I thought it meant…” The charming blush had risen once more in his cheeks. “I thought you wanted him to use me.”

“You went to him to please me?” He’d never wanted that. Damn, he’d screwed this up.

“No. No, not that exactly.” The blush deepened, and Phaleg looked down at the table with the bashfulness of a young ingénue. “Though I would. If you told me to let anyone use me, demon or angel, because it pleased you…I would. But I desired Silk. He’s—he’s beautiful and complicated. And a bit cruel. Like you. I couldn’t help but desire him. It’s just that I thought it was your way of telling me you…released me.”

Belphagor reached his hand across the table, and Phaleg took it, his own trembling. “It was, sweet boy. I had to release you. You deserve to be free. To love and be loved by someone who desires to make you suffer because you desire to be made to suffer by him. Someone who will cherish that suffering and that hunger for it. Someone who needs to use you just as desperately as you need to be used by him. You deserve what Vasily and I have, and I can’t give it to you.”

“And yet you speak of a bond.”

“Of course there’s a bond.” He closed his fingers tightly around Phaleg’s hand until the angel made a soft, involuntary sound of pain.

“Heaven help me,” the angel moaned, the very words he’d uttered in his desperation while Belphagor had sundered him. He knew if he ordered the angel to, right here and now, Phaleg would strip and climb onto the table to be used and degraded in whatever fashion Belphagor took a fancy to, regardless of the fear of discovery. He was sorely tempted. But even he wasn’t that much of a bastard.

He loosened his grip. “There will always be a bond,” he said in a gentler tone. “But I will do my best never to abuse it.”

Phaleg nodded as Belphagor released his hand, his throat working for a moment as if he couldn’t get any air through it. “Then you’ll help me?” he managed at last.

“Of course I’ll help. All you had to do was ask.” He tried to remember exactly what Phaleg had asked him. His imagined violation of the angel had given him a rather distracting erection. “You said you want me to stop the principality from signing the Liberation Decree.”

“I don’t want you to, but someone must, or this next attempt upon the principality’s life will succeed. Heaven isn’t ready for liberation, as much as it pains me to admit. It’s not the right time. And the only way Helison will see that is if he understands the extent of demonic sedition going on right under his nose.”

“Even if it implicates Silk.”

Phaleg paled. “That isn’t what I want. But if he’s plotting against my principality…Belphagor…I cannot ignore it.” And there was the difference between them. Belphagor hadn’t given a fig whether the beautiful Russian prince he’d spied upon had been plotting against the tsar.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.
You can find Jane on her Twitter account and Facebook page—both of which are aptly named “janekindred”—and on her website, http://www.janekindred.com.

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