A Novel of the Fallen Angels
J. R. Ward
Published 2010 454 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
The battle between good and evil has left the future of humanity in the hands of a reluctant saviour and his band of fallen angels. Seven deadly sins that must be righted. Seven souls that must be saved.
Fallen Angel Jim Heron has completed his first task: helping Vin Di Pietro to redeem his soul. Now he must identify and battle a demon that can take any form. Worse still, his old boss Matthias wants him to assassinate Isaac, a member of The Firm who's gone AWOL - and Jim's pretty sure he's supposed to save him.
But before Jim can get to Isaac to warn him, Isaac's picked up by the police for illegal street fighting. It's soon clear that he is falling for his gorgeous public defender - will their love redeem his soul? Or has the demon Devina, who's determined to see Jim fail, set an elaborate trap?
Crave is the second instalment in J.R. Ward’s Fallen Angels paranormal romance series. The premise for this series is that God no longer cares for His creation and has left the final battle between good and evil, Heaven and Hell, to be played out in the form of a competition for souls between the fallen angels and Devina, an evil demon. There are seven deadly sins to be redeemed, so it’s the best of seven matches. Events in Crave follow on the heels of where Covet left off. Fallen angel Jim Heron is flushed with the success of saving his first soul (score: Heaven 1 – Hell 0) and quickly sets about trying to save the soul of shady government assassin Isaac Rothe using the power of love and the aid of his two angel buddies Ad and Eddie.
I have a huge respect for J.R. Ward’s writing ability. Her phenomenally popular Black Dagger Brotherhood vampire romance series is a must-read personal addiction of mine. I know that she can write romance so hot that there is a danger the book pages might spontaneously combust upon reading. Hot is perhaps a misleading word here, because I don’t mean erotic sex scenes (although there’s no shortage of those) – I mean heart wrenching romance with larger than life characters that one can bond with as they battle overwhelming odds to reach their happy-ever-afters. I mean characters so wholly imagined and well-constructed that they seem almost real enough to touch. Characters one believes in and cares about. That’s what I expect from a book by J.R. Ward and sadly that is what’s most obviously lacking in Crave.
Frankly, this book is dull – making it an uphill struggle to read. I love the paranormal romance genre, these books are my favourite type of romance but although Crave is a paranormal romance it just didn’t work for me. I think that my problem with it might have been that the paranormal and the romance are kept fairly separate by the overall idea behind the series. The romance is between two human characters who have no, or little, knowledge of the paranormal world. For example, Isaac hasn’t a clue that the paranormal exists and Grier can see the ghost of her dead brother but this is written in such a low-key way that it could just as easily be the figment of her imagination rather than a ghost.
By contrast all the paranormal action is between the angels and demon Devina, as they play their game and battle for the chosen soul. Meaning that the first half of the book reads like a fairly generic romance – attractive lawyer is assigned case of hunky street fighting criminal who turns out to be a government assassin with a hit team on his tail… pretty standard stuff for any romance fan, and a bit dull for hardcore paranormal romance fans. The second half shifts the focus to Jim and Devina so it’s more excitingly paranormal but it breaks the reader’s focus from the romance.
Another problem for me is the whole angel/demon competition for the Earth. I recently had ring-side seats to the apocalypse with season 5 of the Supernatural TV show. And to be honest, I think they did it better. Kinky angels (Ad and Eddie, who like to nail anything that moves) don’t really seem credible to me – neither as angels nor the saviours of mankind. Archangels Nigel and Colin, with their pseudo-Britishness that wavers between modern day upper-crust-crumpets-and-tea cliché and speaking-like-something-out-of-a-historical-romance-novel cliché, similarly lack credibility to me. Where are the wings, the terrible majesty and the archangels’ swords? Oh, and the smiting? Could we have some smiting now, please? Of course in my opinion there is a bit of a plot hole with the whole angel/demon competition plan in that both potential outcomes, either Heaven on Earth and Hell on Earth, are both equally awful. Why can’t we keep free will?
For the majority of characters in Crave I just couldn’t work up the enthusiasm to care whether they lived or died, found true love, lost their souls or saved the Earth. A noteworthy exception is Devina, the evil demon. For some perverse reason I found her character intriguing, probably the mixture of overwhelming evil and odd vulnerability from her OCD compulsions. Other high points for the novel were the author’s imaginative descriptions of Devina’s hellish lair, an uncomfortable combination of visceral horror and mental torment.
Overall Crave is a pretty average paranormal romance, not brilliant but not too bad either. To be completely honest if it hadn’t been written by J.R. Ward I wouldn’t be so disappointed with it. Ward has set the highest standard with the BDB series and for that reason I had greater expectations of Crave. I just know that she can write a better paranormal romance than this.
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