Book: Demon Spawn, On the Run by D.L. Warner
This book has a disclaimer written by D.L.'s husband, Jon Cunningham. At first this confused me. Why would a book need a disclaimer? As soon as I got to the first page, I saw why. As a fan of Mrs. Warner, I paid for one style, one genius, and got something else. Oh to be sure, she delivered in the end, but I almost didn't get to the end.
I gave this book five stars based on its last thirty-five pages alone. D.L Warner's part. I found it mind-boggling that D.L. seems to have so little regard for her unique writing "voice" in this story that she would entrust others to write it for her. Considering how wonderful her talent is, that's just crazy. Fan-fic can be awesome, but next to the meat and potatoes of real writing... not so much this time. It's her Joe and her Molinar that I fell in love with. You don't get that in these other stories. You don't get anything remotely close to the strength of her unadorned narrative, the implicit attraction shown through action, and all that great sexual tension between the lines of convincing masculine men. My god, it's disappointing. But D.L. Warner delivers in the end. The very end.
I've read the last 35 pages over and over again, just trying to hang on to the thrill of Molinar's desire for Joe. And in many ways, this last chapter by D.L. more than makes up for the other styles. I don't want to give anything away, but I love the path that she puts these men on, how she makes it all look so reasonable. With Molinar and Joe on the run, they have no choice but to grow dependent on each other to survive. But it's not a gritty, miserable survival. It's full of warmth, wealth, technical savvy, and options for a new life, all balancing on Joe's decent into psychological shock as he lets Molinar take the lead. Joe really has to adjust, and D.L. shows him trying as other characters, such as Ethan, react strongly in response to Joe's delima. (I got such a kick outa that! "Jesus, Joe...") It's as if Joe, pushing himself to stay functional, doesn't realize he's close to a nervous breakdown. His life has been yanked from under his feet, with only Molinar's vital resources to save him. Things brighten for him, but he's realistically conflicted right to the last page. It stays with you.
I'm not a fan of romance (unless it's hard and strong like this story), but when I read Molinar saying of the necklace he ripped from Joe's neck in the first novel, "I took it [the caduceus necklace] because I couldn't take you with me," my heart nearly came out of my chest. Sure, Molinar's still a murdering bastard who gets off on playing rough, but he's downright charming when it comes to Joe. Until he gets jealous or horny, then the darker side looms. Love it! There is more intensity in these few pages than in most of the full-length novels I've read. It's a damn shame that D.L. Warner hasn't given us a full-length sequel.
So, the book is WORTH buying and treasuring, but only because of the last amazing 35 pages of Mrs. Warner's genius.
Side note, she did get a little lazy on the sex scenes, but I can live with it. More please.
Between the movie and the book, I ache for more. The Doctor/Vampire relationship (I absolutely do not have a thing for vampires. I hate vampires! But this one rocks!!) has me scouring the web for any sign of more from D.L. Warner and her husband, Jon Cunningham. And that's after 3 years of first having read the book.
It DOESN'T MATTER that the quality of the movie suffers from the low budget. After you read the book and see the movie and really understand what's been accomplished through a good script, excellent acting, and the chemistry of the main characters, "Joe" and "Molinar" (Garett Maggartt and Jason Carter), you see that it is a treasure worth keeping. I'm so glad that the novel-turned-movie was taken seriously and not camped up too much, stylized, or deemed "quirky". The story paints a serious world of unethical research, government-type cover ups, and an innocent, compassionate doctor caught in the middle. This is done convincingly and detailed in amazingly very few pages! (way too short, but a testament to the gravity and power of the story).
The movie tries to follow the novel, but understandably cannot go the distance. I only regret that the dream sequence was more clearly indicated as such, and that the ending could've played out true to the novel. (The things Molinar says to Joe, to assure him that he's not really going to hurt him during his escape, are hot as hell.) And it's even more intense that Joe doesn't even realize how badly the vampire wants him and exactly what his intentions are. (I love "the chase", the one character not giving it up too easily to the other.) It made me wonder at the reason for leaving certain gay content out, when clearly the team was professional, danced awfully close to the gay theme, arriving short of being too obvious, but not obvious enough in my opinion. I mean finally, a suspenseful, psychological, dramatic work of fiction (in spite of the blood) that has two men - who can be taken seriously - bound in a complicated attraction that doesn't disappoint with predictable, disposable sex, but continues to pull the sexual tension taut well after the last page. It's the best kind of sex - Molinar's violent desire for Joe, Joe keeping his distance. Hot hot hot! And it does go on to deliver the goods, but that's another novel. *cough* (D.L. Please write more! You have the makings of something great.)
All of the actors were perfect. I was especially impressed with the lady cop as well as the scientists. Taken in its entirety, this is a very special project (movie and book should be experienced together by M/M lovers) and worth so much more than what I paid for it, in terms of what one looks for in a fulfilling novel/movie experience.
Thank you thank you thank you, D.L. and Jon! After 3 years, I still hurt for more.