Come to Me by Lisa Cach was first published at The Romance Reader in 2004. I rated it 4-Hearts (B rating) with an MPAA content rating of "R."
In the five years I’ve been reviewing, I’ve had the pleasure of being assigned three novels by Lisa Cach. Upon diving into Come To Me, one question kept tickling at the back of my brain – why oh why isn’t this woman a huge star? Whether she’s writing about a woman posing as a mermaid (The Mermaid of Penperro), a pro wrestler who travels back in time to slay a dragon (George and the Virgin) or a succubus who becomes a mortal woman to help a scarred man (Come To Me) – readers can always count on Cach to deliver creative plots and interesting characters.
Samira is a succubus, a low ranking creature of the Night World. It is Samira’s job to bring erotic dreams to sleeping men. She’s seen a lot in her several hundred years of existence, and figures she has mortal men figured out. So when she is asked to do a favor for Theron, her incubus counterpart who delivers erotic dreams to women, she handily agrees. She delivers a disturbing dream to Prince Dragosh, the ruling prince of Maramures. Little does she know that the dream she delivers sets off a bloody chain of events.
Dragosh’s dream causes him to break the engagement between his younger sister and Prince Nicolae. A war ensues, and Nicolae ends up a scarred, bitter man hiding out in a crumbling monastery. He’s taken to reading books on black magic, hoping to use the dark arts as a way to regain his father’s respect, and get revenge against Dragosh. It’s while dabbling in this magic that he discovers Samira, and decides to use her to achieve his goals.
Unfortunately, Nicolae’s dabbling resorts in Samira becoming a mortal woman. Banished from the Night World by the Queen of the Night, Nyx, Samira’s task is to help Nicolae and undo the damage her dream to Dragosh caused. There’s just a small catch however – she has 30 days in which to accomplish this mission, at which time Nyx will show up with none other than Death himself.
Come To Me is something of a dark fairy tale. The author sets her tale in 15th century Transylvania, and the story has gritty medieval overtones. The dream that Samira delivers to Dragosh is disturbing in nature, and given that she is a purveyor of erotic dreams, the story is full of steamy dream-like moments.
Adding to the dark atmosphere is Nicolae, who is severely scarred and bent on revenge against Dragosh. Here’s a guy seeking to use black magic in order to achieve that revenge. He’s not a nice guy in the beginning. However, Cach writes him with an underlying vulnerability that is sexy and appealing. As he spends time with Samira, he begins to question his motives, and his early distrust of her.
And really that’s where this story works – Nicolae has trust issues. Given he has a 15th century attitude, he isn’t going to readily embrace a succubus – a demon – when she offers her help. He’s also not happy that she offers this help in her human state – what use is a demon if she’s no longer one?
The story loses some grit and momentum immediately following Samira’s transformation, but the author recovers quickly. As a bit of comic relief, some time is spent on Samira getting acquainted with the human body and all of its functions – most notably eating and using the latrine. While the author tries to write Samira as an innocent during these scenes, she comes off with shades of too-stupid-to-live. Luckily, these moments are brief, with later scenes focusing on Samira’s physical innocence versus her mental experience in regards to the desires of men.
I see a lot of grumblings online that Romance Novel Land has turned into humongous Regency Historical Land. There may be some truth to that, but the fact remains that interesting, creative stories do continue to seek their way to bookstore shelves for readers who take the time, and the risk, to seek them out. Lisa Cach is one such author who continues to bend boundaries and write stories that are not “safe bets.” Come To Me is innovative, dark without being depressing, and the most original story this reviewer has come across in ages. Don’t miss it.
Wendy Looks Back: I obviously read this one before my well-documented Paranormal Burn-Out set in and inhaled it. What I especially loved was that it was "different" at the time. Cach gave us a succubus heroine instead of another retread of a vampire or werewolf story.