A Novel of the Fallen Angels
J. R. Ward
Published 2009 474 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Redemption isn't a word Jim Heron knows much about - his specialty is revenge and, to him, sin is all relative. But everything changes when he becomes a fallen angel and is charged with saving the souls of seven people from the seven deadly sins. And failure is not an option.
Vin diPietro long ago gave himself up to his business - until fate intervenes in the form of a tough-talking, Harley-riding, self-professed saviour, and a woman who makes him question his destiny. With an ancient evil ready to claim him, Vin has to work with a fallen angel not only to win his beloved over... but to redeem his very soul.
Covet: A Novel of the Fallen Angels is the first book in a new paranormal romance series by J.R. Ward. Best known for her hugely popular (and highly addictive) Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) vampire romances, J. R. Ward now offers readers an alternative take on heaven and hell in her new Fallen Angels series.
Covet is set in the Caldwell of the BDB world. While there is a cross over of a couple of the supporting characters from Ward’s last BDB book, Lover Avenged, the existence of vampires, or lessers, is not known to the protagonists of this story. As far as the characters of this book are concerned vampires don’t exist. So while BDB fans should keep their eyes peeled for a tiny cameo role by Phury in this story that is as far as Covet intersects with the BDB world.
The premise for the Fallen Angel novels is simply set up in a brief prologue at the start of Covet. The Creator is no longer thrilled by the constant fight between good and evil for supremacy. So he has set an end game in motion. Both the angels and the demons need to agree on the identity a player, or champion, for their cause. This champion must be acceptable to both sides, therefore needs to have an equal capacity to do good and bad, and it will be up to this one person to influence the fate of seven souls. The winning side of the game will be the one with the most number of souls. Since there are to be seven souls in play there is no chance of a draw or tie-breaker. If the angels win the Earth will be “nothing but one giant frickin’ Christmas morning.” If the demons win, they get to keep all the souls on Earth and the angels will be slaves for all eternity.
Jim Heron is a rootless building contractor and an ex-military assassin. He is the chosen champion of both the angels and the demons and while he seems keen to bat for the forces of good, its worth bearing in mind that the forces of evil must have seen something in him that they thought they could use – otherwise they never would have agreed to his choice. Jim is something of a mystery and with his potential to do good or bad he is by far the most interesting character in this story.
Jim’s first job is to save the soul of Vin diPietro. With very little information to go on and not a clue about how to do it, he starts by getting himself invited to dinner at Vin’s home in the hopes that some soul-saving idea might present itself to him. Now before you start thinking that this sounds like something out of Highway to Heaven (1980’s TV show) it’s worth remembering the J.R. Ward writes romances. Vin DiPietro is a cold, hard-hearted business man with plenty of money but a distinct lack of love, or even joy, in his life. That all changes for him when he meets a vulnerable woman, Marie-Terese, who brings emotion back into his life. But with a demon bent on collecting his soul the path to true love for Vin and Marie-Terese is fraught with danger.
J.R. Ward’s male characters always seem to steal the show in her novels and Covet is no exception to this. While Marie-Terese is likeable enough as the female romantic lead in this story, she is also the architect of her own bad situation and her blend of good catholic / working woman who sins because she has no other choice, grates in places. She engenders sympathy but is not easy to identify with. However, Vin ticks most of the right boxes as a romantic lead, he has a suitably shady past but no major character flaws that the love of a good woman (and a demon exorcism) can’t cure.
Now this might just be my personal taste, but by contrast Jim and his fallen angel buddies have that exciting man of mystery, alpha male vibe that J.R. Ward writes so well. In a romance there shouldn’t be anyone more attractive than the male lead character because when there is, a reader is inclined to want that character to get the hot romance followed by the HEA, which is how I felt about Jim.
While there are plenty of supernatural elements in Covet that effect the romance of Vin and Marie-Terese, hardcore paranormal romance fans maybe disappointed that Vin and Marie-Terese are both pretty much normal humans and the only paranormal creatures in the book (the angels and the demons) don’t have romances. This is only likely to be small gripe though because Covet is a fast paced, action packed fantasy romance that grabs hold of the reader and doesn’t let up until the closing pages.
Covet is very different to J.R. Ward’s previous Black Dagger Brotherhood novels but there are enough similarities in writing style and the way that she constructs a romance that readers who enjoy BDB shouldn’t find anything objectionable about this story. Certainly Covet gets the Novels of the Fallen Angels series off to a promising start and proves that J.R. Ward’s talents don’t stop at vampires.
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