J. R. Ward
October 2012, Paranormal Romance
NAL, $27.95, 512 pages, Amazon ASIN 045123801X Part of a series
While I am a huge fan of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, I had never taken a chance at her Fallen Angels. While there are definite differences in the tone and story lines, the familiarity of Ward’s writing style was able to bring me into the Fallen Angel fold.
Matthias is a bad guy – that much is clear when he wakes up naked on a grave on the first page. He tried to commit suicide because he was just too tired to want to continue living the way that he was. From the beginning, I knew that he was on the wrong side of the battle between Good and Evil that is the basis of the Fallen Angel series, but exactly how bad he was didn’t become clear for a while. With Matthias suffering from amnesia, his memories are spotty. And as he learns of his past, so do we. Matthias was involved in the XOps, a military organization that doesn’t want rogue agents running around loose. As he is now a rogue himself, Matthias is a prime target for an assassination.
Mels Carmichael is a reporter in a dead end job. She is at a point in her life when she feels stagnant - her relationships, her work, her motivation. When a strange and broken man, whom she hit with her car, makes his way into her life, she feels pulled towards him right from the start. When his memory starts to return, his first instinct is to push her away from him for her own safety, but Mels wasn’t having any of that. She is tenacious and endearing and she wasn’t willing to let him go off on his own. She follows him and trouble follows her.
Although I had every intention of reading the first three Angels books before this one, I will admit the others just didn’t work for me and I couldn’t get into them. So I came into this one without too much expectation and no backstory other than what I had heard about the Angels. I did know the basics. But unlike other books, Matthias and Mels were very engaging right from the start. Right away I wanted to know what I had missed and that was an improvement over the other books in this series.
Matthias is a bad guy that was being redeemed and for me it was successful. I like him. Mels is great. For me, she has the potential to board the self pity train but somehow, each and every time, instead of making me cringe, I feel for her a little bit more. She avoids it with some unexpected treats about herself (her black belt in karate, her skills at hand-to-hand) and I can completely see how she blows Matthias away! And together they work. She is vulnerable enough to be sensitive to his troubles without being a pushover and tough enough to withstand his past coming to light.
I will say that there were other things. I have always heard that Ward can go overboard in the cheesy language (“B&Eing it”, instead of saying “he broke into the house”) and the product placement, but I never saw it as overboard in the Black Dagger books, just heavy handed. In this book it was definitely overboard. Rarely did the lead angel, Jim, say anything that wasn’t a part of some silly catch phrase and it was a bit tiresome. It was almost a relief to finally understand what people were talking about. But other than that, the tone was similar enough to her other work to be comforting, while edgy enough to be something new and exciting.
While I don’t think I will ever go back and read about the early angels, there is no doubt that I will be glad to add the future ones to my TBR. While Ward has a unique style that is not for everyone, I can say that I love the edgy appeal. Now that the battles the angels are fighting to save the world are resulting in them being the major characters, I am more in tune with this series and will gladly keep current going forward.
-- Louise VanderVliet
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