The Bonding Spell by M.L. Doyle
Warning: Contains violence, child abuse/rape and sex.
The Bonding Spell by M.L. Doyle is the story of Hester Trueblood, a woman that used to serve in Iraq until one day she picked up an ancient coin and gave a goddess permission to live in her body. Now, she kills demons, listens to the commentary of an ancient goddess, rebuff her demigod ex-lover and keep her two servants/worshippers safe from all the supernatural beasties they hunt down and kill.
In The Bonding Spell, we get a glimpse of what life is like when you share a body and consciousness with a goddess. I like that it’s not all roses and the author shows the struggle between mortal and immortal. Hester’s bond with Inanna is incomplete because she’s afraid of the goddess taking over her life and moving her back to Iraq, where Inanna is from. Hester has a mother, two sisters, a niece, and a brother-in-law, along with a business and a number of friends she doesn’t want to give up, even i fit means unlimited knowledge and loving a demigod that’s pursued and been devoted to Inanna for centuries. She’s afraid that if she gives into Gil, she’ll fall for him and make it that much easier for Inanna to take over and Hester will fade away until just her body remains. Hester also has to feed Inanna’s needs, which are mostly for sex and violence, and frequently at that. The sex with different men isn’t something that the old Hester would have been down with, but I like the fact that she’s embraced it and isn’t ashamed by her needs, nor is she shamed by anyone around her. And since these scenes were done well, it made for some steamy reading.
Now for the actual plot. Thanks to Inanna and her ties to the earth, Hester has a vision of a black cloud racing toward her during one of the meditation sessions. The next day, a man is found dead and mutilated. Soon, the bodies are piling up, and Hester has to find the witch involved in these ritualistic killings before she and her sisters are implicated in more than four murders. A lot of secrets come to light, which are heartbreaking. Hester does a lot of growing through the book, and even though she almost loses the two people that care for her the most.
I found the story to be fast-paced and well-plotted. There were quite a few twists that I hadn’t seen, and I wasn’t entirely correct when guessing whodunit, but I was close! The sex scenes were well-written and the research put into the various beings that made up the supernatural cast really showed. There were new twists on old creatures and there was hardly a dull moment.
Now all that being said, I did have a few issues with the actual writing. I found quite a few errors as I read, ranging from missing punctuation to dropped words and misspelled words, all things that a proofreader or one more pass would have caught. And while I enjoyed the story, I can’t say that the writing was beautiful or fantastic, but it was decent. It did, however, fit Hester’s voice, so perhaps that’s not a bad thing.
My Rating: 4/5
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The Bonding Spell was just released on 11/10. It’s free on Kindle Unlimited or you can buy it for $2.99 on Amazon. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next book in this series and picking it up as soon as it’s released.
Thanks for reading!