I ended up getting the Lords of the Underworld bundle since this months book pick for the VFBC was book #2 in this series and I just can't start in the middle even if each book is stand alone. I also figured that book #2 was the best and reading from the start would give insight on the writing development of this author (these weren't her first books, but it's still interesting to watch a concept take shape over the course of a series).
So, this is the prequel. It's length is somewhere in the middle of a short story and novella (so, novelette?), about 15k words. It just wasn't compelling... I took 2 days to read this when I should have finished it in one sitting.
I couldn't feel for either of the characters because the writing was so dramatic and over the top cheese. Dialogue was flat and unrealistic for two characters that have been around a very long time (the female character is a goddess and the male character is the gatekeeper/guard to hell), some lines left me thinking 'Are these two teenagers?' Both characters have self-loathing issues and low self-esteem.
This was a character driven narrative... but man, it was so character driven that they should have just built a fire and had a chat instead of going to hell and back. Their conversations would have been more believable because really? They would stop, take a timeout, and chat when a demon was hurtling towards them about to attack.
The romance parts were cheese and a half. Just ridiculous stuff, like one character saying something that insinuates something else. This author took free indirect speech to lengths that made many of these cheesy lines worse and eye-roll worthy. Also, the POV character jumped around the two like a ping pong ball.
The ending was a massive fail.
Now for some spoilers. This book is only available in the bundle so chances are, you'll never read this. Peeking at the spoilers (2 small ones) probably won't ruin anything since this book doesn't have characters that are in the rest of the series AFAIK. The spoilers are about the sex in this book. It's worth a read if you want to laugh. :)
I totally forgot to mention that the cover is misleading. Who the hell is that guy? The guy in this short is a beast, he is covered in fur and has claws and is basically a demon/monster. He never transforms back into the man he was before being sent to hell... and the time period I imagine him from when he was alive wouldn't have tattoo's like that. o_O