Review: How to Love a Monster by Lyssa Dering

About the Book

Cover How to Love a MonsterDying at the hands of government goons was always going to happen. Waking up in a dark and twisted afterlife? Not the plan.

Seraphim has the superhuman ability to control his own brain. Or at least, he used to, before his government-mandated brain surgery. The surgery killed him, but life isn’t over yet. He’s just woken up, shivering and alone, in the rain-soaked alleyway of a city he doesn’t recognize.

Fiend is a childhood monster. Dreamed up by Seraphim’s friend Wish, he was imprisoned in Wish’s subconscious until the birth of Wish City, a place for people with superhuman abilities to take refuge after death. Now Fiend is free—and in charge—and he’s on the hunt for anyone with abilities once they cross over.

Eager to play with his new toy, Fiend quickly makes contact with Seraphim. Lost and injured, Seraphim lets Fiend slither into his heart. But under the aching pleasure the two find with each other is a hunger that can’t be denied, and lurking in the shadows of the neon city are truths neither man nor monster is ready to face.

How to Love a Monster is a gay erotic horror romance featuring twisted and kinky M/M sex, a diabolical love interest, and an HEA ending.

The Finer Details

Narrative Arc: Standalone
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Self-Published
Cover Artist: Lyssa Dering
Length: Novel, 50,000 words
POV: 1st person, two characters
Tense: Present
Pairings: Male/Male
Identities: Gay
Genre(s): Speculative Fiction, Erotica, BDSM, Horror, Paranormal

Supernatural Elements: Superhumans, Parallel Universe, Bogeyman, Monster

Tropes and Tags: dubious consent, emotional agony, opposites attract, kidnapped, insta-lust
Settings & Locales: Wish City
Ending: HEA

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Advance Review Copy generously provided by the author.

Back Porch Thoughts


Rating 4 Stars

4 Stars

Rating Info

Ratings stick closely to the GoodReads standards. Occasionally I’ll make note of half-star ratings and will typically round up on GoodReads reviews and other sites where I may cross-post.

Stars Goodreads  What this means to me
5 AMAZING This totally knocked my socks off, and I might end up a crazed fan (from a respectable distance).
4 Really Liked This was truly enjoyable, and I’d recommend it.
3 Liked It was good, and I’m glad I read it, but I may have had some issues.
2 It was okay I finished it & kept hoping for improvement. I definitely had issues.
1 Didn't like I read the whole thing but....
1 DNF Didn't like I read past 50% (at least) before giving up.
0 DNF No Rating I couldn't even make it to 50%, but I still feel the need to share my thoughts.


The author reached out to me to request a review of this book, and in her request, she acknowledged she understood this wasn’t my typical genre. She assured me it was — and I quote — “low stress,” and noted a few other authors she knew I’d read who have a reputation for stressful plots that, she felt, reached a higher degree than I’d surely find in How to Love a Monster.

My initial thought was BUT…BUT MONSTERS, LYSSA.

Then I read the blurb. And I saw some keywords that always pique my interest and seem to have the power to negate my apprehension of stressful, scary things. So, in my reply, I told Lyssa that I’d be delighted to read her new book AS LONG AS she wasn’t tryin’ to kill me with monsters and demons and such that would leap or ooze or whatever out of my Kindle and strangle me dead or what have ya.

The fact that I’ve lived to tell the tale and talk to y’all about How to Love a Monster should be all the reassurance you need that you’ll survive too.

But MONSTERS, goddammit.

Okay, one monster. Fiend, a BRAIN-EATING bogeyman. A monster, who, quite possibly is just an adorkable, lonely, misunderstood sort of fella who simply wants to be loved, who’d probably settle for being liked — or even just a consensual sex partner on occasion. He’s not choosy — except when it comes to his, umm…diet. Of brains. And blue juice when a fresh cerebrum isn’t available. And it would go a long way if his partner can put up with full-body licking…priming?…seasoning? Not to kink-shame, but I’d need more information before I’d consent to a wandering tongue without any boundaries.

And there’s Seraphim, Sera for short, who maybe isn’t quite as angelic as the name suggests. He seems mostly pure of heart, with a bit of a kinky streak. What he needs is safety, his friend Wish, some peace from being on the run or trapped or having the government experiment on him. The world he’s found himself in, the conjured city designed by his friend, is not what it was promised to be. Something went horribly wrong, and there’s no way out. So rather than the utopia he’d expected, Wish City is dark, gloomy, with a somewhat dystopian feel, and ruled by Fiend and LOVE — the drug that induces hedonist sexual desire to manic proportion.

All in all, this was quite a ride between Sera trying to get his feet under him, figure out where he is and Fiend’s exuberance over his captive and their possible budding attraction and compatible kinks. When Fiend says he’s interested in Sera because of his brain…well, that’s pretty fucking literal. And while most of us might be flattered by such a compliment, Sera may wanna sleep with an eye open and also take some time to work on his Scrabble skills.

I found myself really enjoying the back and forth between them and couldn’t help but root for Fiend getting his HEA.

Y’all…I was rooting for the monster.

What is the world coming to?

It takes a strong and steady hand to convince me to accept the fictional realities of different worlds and beings. My mind typically comes up with far too many how and why questions to allow me to suspend disbelief. I can’t say all my nagging questions were answered, but they didn’t hound me to the point that I couldn’t enjoy the ride. Wish City doesn’t make any sense, that’s the point. It’s whatever its creator wants it to be, even when he’s not exactly around to make it so.

I liked this immensely more than I thought with all my preliminary trepidations. It’s got some serious creative flair, enough detail to keep us grounded, not too much squick with the brain business, and some seriously hot kink that nearly ignited my Kindle.

About the Author

Author Photo: Lyssa DeringLyssa Dering is an author of erotic M/M fiction. Her work is often romantic, always emotional, and features shifters, vampires, and regular old humans in whatever subgenres inspire her. She seeks to share the kind of fiction she loves to read: intense and addictive with engaging characters and situations. Lyssa is nonbinary and demisexual and often draws upon her time in the BDSM community when writing intimate scenes. She resides in the Midwestern United States with an aggressively affectionate tabby cat. When not writing, she enjoys live-tweeting about the books she’s reading and dicking around in Photoshop.


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