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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Heather Killough-Walden: LOST ANGELS SERIES

     "Always Angel" (e-novella prequel)
     Avenger's Angel (11/2011)
     Messenger's Angel (6/2012)
     Death's Angel (12/2012)
     Warrior's Angel (11/2014; e-book or audiobook only) 
     Samael (8/2015; e-book or audiobook only) (FINAL)

This post was revised and updated on 11/16/15 to include a review of Samael, the fifth and FINAL novel in the series. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the world-building and reviews of the prequel e-novella and the first four novels. (Sorry to be so late in getting this review posted.)

                   NOVEL 5:  Samael                     
     Samael is the long-awaited fifth and final installment in THE LOST ANGELS series.

     In the fevered mind of Samuel Lambent, a storm brews. At its dark heart is a need unlike any other, the kind that ravishes the soul and lays waste to both kindness and sanity. And that storm is mirrored in the skies over Chicago.

     The Culmination is approaching. For Samuel Lambent is actually Samael—the Fallen One. He’s been dreaming of her, craving her, side-lined by an intense obsession that has all but consumed him. And now that he has actually seen Angel, the long lost fifth and final archess, he will stop short of absolutely nothing to obtain her, going so far as to break fundamental covenants… and make the ultimate sacrifice.

     Angel watches the skies above with an anxious eye. She knows what the tempest means. The Fallen One has found her. His impossible influence and power stretch across vast miles, and his eyes call to her. Within their tumultuous gray is something her heart understands, no matter how it may not wish to. 

     There is a promise in Samael’s gaze. And it is that promise that keeps her running. For if he claims her. If she gives in… the Culmination will ensue. Life on Earth as she knows it will come to an end. Angel will have surrendered everything. All for the fierce and unforgivable love of the Fallen One.

     Each novel in this series has begun with the legend of how the Old Man created archesses for his four favorite archangels and how the archangels went to earth to find their mates. This novel deals with the last two sentences in that Introduction: "For they are not the only entities to leave their realm and come to Earth to hunt for their archesses. They were followed by another." If you, like me, assumed that the "other" who is referenced in the final sentence of that Introduction was Abraxos/Kevin, or Hesperos, or Gregori…well, we were both wrong. And if you have been holding your breath in anticipation of the Culminationthe mysterious event that has been the hook upon which the entire series is hungyou will be seriously disappointed by the ending of this novel (and series).

     In the final chapters of Samael, Killough-Walden basically admits that nothing about the premise of the mythology of the first four books (and half of this one) is true, and for me, that felt like a complete betrayal. It's as if she created two very different mythologies: one that informed the action of the first four and 1/2 novels, and one that contradicts that original mythology and is explained quickly and incoherently in the final 20% of this book. Both mythologies have the same romantic match-ups between the archangels and the archesses, but beyond that, they are completely different from one another. We don't see the final mythology acted out; we just have it explained to us by two characters who admit to the rest of the characters that what they thought was truth was, in reality, all lies. This is not an honest way to end a series, and it is definitely not a satisfying finale. 

     During the early chapters, Sam pursues Angel, while the Archangel group tries to keep them apart. Hesperos, king of the incubi, gets involved early on, but his character soon disappears from the action. Gregori is the true villain in this book. He wants to catch up with Angel so that he can kill her and stop the Culmination. Gregori has a grudge against the Old Man, and he is determined to get revenge.

     Of course, Sam catches Angel and the next chapters have them teleporting all over the globe trying to stay out of Gregori's clutches. They stop in several places, including Sam's underwater mansion and Angel's tree-house home. Each place they visit is described in great, luxurious detail—pages and pages of detail—for no apparent reason. In the case of the underwater home, the couple stops off only long enough to change clothes, so why go on and on and on and on about the decor. This is not Architectural Digest or Martha Stewart Living, for goodness sake. 

     Also cluttered with useless detail are the fight scenes, particularly towards the end, when the author presents a massive showdown scene that has all of the archangels and their archesses battling a huge army of various types of fangy monsters. Instead of providing an overview of the action, Killough-Walden describes each and every angel and archess, the creatures they fight, and exactly how they fight each creature. What a waste of page space. After reading a few repetitive paragraphs, I just flipped right through most of that section of the book.

     As you can tell from my review, I found this to be a disappointing finale to a mediocre series. If you have been reading and enjoying the previous books, you'll probably want to read this one just to see what the Culmination is and how it all turns out. I warn you, though, that everything you have believed about he series so far is not true, so get ready for some major shakeups in the final 20% of the novel. Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from Samael on the book's page, where you can click either on the cover art or the "Audible Narration" icon.

     Here is a paragraph from Avenger's Angel explaining the mythology for the series: "So two thousand years ago, the four favored archangels, Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Azrael had been gathered to speak with the Old Man. He'd told them that as a reward for their continued loyalty, he had created for each of them the most precious gift of all: a female mate. These he called archesses....[Uriel] and his three brothers had never had a chance to claim their archesses. Before they could accept them, disaster struck and the women were lost—scattered on the winds of Earth. The archangels decided to go after them....But decades passed and centuries crawled by and the four brothers found no trace of their archesses. Instead, they found themselves trapped in bodies that were more human than archangel. They experienced human emotions and felt human agony." (p. 10) Each of the archesses has a variety of powers, including the ability to heal.

     The greatest enemies of the archangels are the Adarians, led by Abraxos (aka General Kevin Trenton). (Seriously, the head villain is named Kevin!) The Adarians were created by the Old Man as archangels, but when they became too powerful, He dropped them on earth and turned his back on them. Over thousands of years, they have fought against the archangels. Now that the archesses are showing up, they want to capture the women for themselves.

     The series follows the adventures and love stories of the four archangels and their friends and enemies.
Uriel: Archangel of Vengeance (aka Christopher Daniels, a movie star who is famous for his role as a vampire heart throb)
> Azrael: Archangel of Death, a rock star who is called the Masked One because he keeps his face half covered with a black mask, He became a vampire when he fell to Earththe very first vampire. 
> Michael: Warrior Archangel, a police officer in New York City. He has the ability to heal others.
> Gabriel: Messenger Archangel (aka Gabriel Black), a fire fighter in New York City. 
Three other continuing characters are also involved in the stories:
> Max Gillihan: guardian to the archangels. His earthly job is to be Urial's agent.
> Lilith: "sister" to the archangels. She is Samael's companion (platonic). She assists Samael, but does not share his evilness (Click HERE for more information about Lilith in religious mythology.) 
> Samael (aka Samuel Lambent): "He was an archangel who had once been the Old Man's favorite but who was displaced by Michael. He was also the thirteenth Adarian, but unlike the other twelve, he had not been discarded by the Old Man and sent to earth....For some reason the Old Man had kept him in their realm. He'd left only when the four favored left, in order to track down the archesses himself. Or at least that was the assumption." (p. 19, Messenger's Angel). Sam is much more powerful than his brothers and frequently interferes in the lives of both the archangels and the Adarians. (Click HERE for more information about Samael in traditional religious mythology.) 
     Click HERE to go to Killough-Walden's "Tidbits/Teasers" page on her blog to read excerpts from each of the LOST ANGELS books, including the e-novella.

                     E-NOVELLA PREQUEL:  "Always Angel"                    
     What this author has done, in effect, is to write a series that requires her readers to purchase this introductory e-book if they want to fully understand the print books in the series. I actually read books 1 and 2 before finally getting around to the e-book because I figured that Killough-Walden would follow the path that most authors take: Even if they do write a prequel, they still make the nuances of the series mythology clear in the regular books of the series. That is not the case here. In this prequel, we meet the mysterious Angel, who is the anonymous e-mail buddy of Eleanore all through book 1. Angel is a hoodie-wearing beauty who spends her time doing good works for humans and battling various demonic creatures (e.g., an Icaran, phantoms, incubi). Here's an example of a day's work for Angel: "She'd used telekinesis to save a cat from being hit by a car, stopped a brush fire in West Texas, [and] healed a five-year-old of leukemia..." Angel, we learn, is acquainted with all of the series regulars—from the archangels to the Adarians to Samael—and her relationship with Samael is particularly mysterious.

     What we also learn is that Angel—who appears to be the archesses' guardian angel—knows the identities of all four of the archesses, and she has mixed feelings about the archesses and their mates: "It would have been in Angel's best interest to make sure that these women were never rematched to the archangels they'd each been created for. If something happened to one of them—or all of them—and they never learned to love the four favored archangels, then Angel would be free to remain on Earth. It was what she wanted." Then, one paragraph later, we get this: "Angel could not and would not prevent these matings from occurring. In fact she was trying to help them along. She didn't know why." Talk about ambivalence! Angel not only knows who the archesses are, but she also explains that each one has the identical set of four magical skills: telekinesis, control of the weather, control of existing fire, and the ability to heal.

      The story line of this novella follows Angel as she battles one weird creature after another, mostly because they are after the archesses. Angel herself is also a target, but the man who wants her is Hesperos, the sexy nightmare king of the incubi. They had a one-night stand two thousand years ago, and he's determined to get a second chance with her. Although Hesperos is mightily attracted to Angel, even he isn't sure what she is. Here, he sums up what he knows about her: "You're obviously immortal—or very long lived at the very least....You can change your hair, eyes, and skin color, but not your features...You can create and manipulate fire. And you wield some sort of force blast." He also knows that she has been destroying a host of supernatural creatures. Hesperos wonders who Angel is hiding from, but we already know that it is Samael. We just don't know exactly why. She keeps saying things like this: "...the Culmination would begin. Samael would realize the truth. And Angel would no longer be free to remain here on Earth to do the good she'd been doing for two millennia."

     So...what do we learn from all this. Here is a quotation from Killough-Walden on her web site as she warns readers to definitely read "Always Angel" before they begin the series: "If you miss it, you'll miss a lot of fantastic foreshadowing, great big hints, and tantalizingly telling glimpses into what will otherwise remain a secret from you until book five of the LOST ANGELS series." Speaking for myself, I started reading the books without reading the author's web-site warning, and I found the world-building in book 1 to be so muddled and full of holes that I really didn't enjoy it. I am at a loss to understand why the author is essentially hijacking her readers by forcing them to purchase the e-book in order to understand what's going on in the regular (print) books of the series. That seems dishonest and greedy to me. What happens to the readers who don't see her web-site warning? Who don't have e-readers? Who borrow the print books from the library and have no library access to the e-novella (which would definitely not be purchased by most libraries). Without the e-novella, I'd give the series a grade of C-. With the e-novella, I'd make it a B-. I hope that other authors don't take the same route as Killough-Walden. I am fine with e-novellas to introduce supporting characters or flesh out existing story lines, but I resent their use as integral links in print series. Click HERE to read an excerpt of "Always Angel" on

                     NOVEL 1:  Avenger's Angel                     
      The story opens with some world-building and then moves to the first meeting between Uriel and his archess, Eleanor (Ellie) Granger. Ellie works in a bookstore in a small Texas town, one of many she has fled to over the years as she has tried to hide from some mysterious men who have been after her for years, intent on kidnapping her for ulterior purposes because she has mysterious magical powers that allow her to heal others and to control the weather. The plot follows Uriel and Ellie through their bumpy road to soul-mate commitment, which is interrupted time and time again by Samael's tricky moves and Ellie's mysterious stalkers. Eventually, both Uriel and Ellie are forced into situations in which they must sacrifice themselves for their mate.

     The premise for the series—archangels in search of their archesses—is interesting, but the world building is full of holes. It's as if the author made up the rules—and the many exceptions to the rules—as she went along. For example, Gabriel speaks with a heavy Scottish brogue most of the time, but then he abruptly, for no apparent reason, speaks regular English for a page or two. The narrator blows it off by saying that Gabriel just speaks like a Scot when he feels like it. Why on earth would you create a character with an annoying dialect and then just throw it away like that? Also, we are led to believe that the archangels have been on the Earth for thousands of years, butunbelievablythey have never before heard of or had contact with the villainous Adarians who turn up near the end of the book, even though the Adarians have been on Earth just as long as the archangels. This defies logic. Here's another "exception": At one point in the story, Uriel is wearing a golden bracelet that nullifies his supernatural powers, but...he can still create and move through a portal to get into the archangels' magical mansion. So...I guess that the bracelet only nullifies the powers that the author doesn't require to move the story line along. The end result of all of the inconsistencies—which cause deep cracks in the foundations of the world-building—is that many parts of the mythology are rendered meaningless.

     The characters vary in their degree of development. The lead characters are flat. Eleanor (a virgin, by the way) is the usual spunky heroine with slightly out-of-control powers, unsure how to react to the new and scary world she gets dropped into. Uriel comes across as a caring guy, up until the point that he essentially rapes Eleanor in their one big sex scene. A page or two later, Eleanor attempts to justify his actions by trying to make herself believe that it's O.K. that he took her virginity forcibly and painfully without a moment of foreplay—because that was what she really wanted deep down in her heart. Sounds like the sad rationalizing of a battered female to me. Personally, I found the scene to be horrifying.

     Some of the secondary characters are far more interesting than the main characters, specifically, Azrael, Samael, and Lilith, all of whom are much more complex than Uriel and Eleanor, with interesting behavior, mysterious back stories, and unfathomable motives. Thankfully, Samael isn't the stereotypical bad guy. Yes, he does some horrible things to Uriel and Eleanor, but he also does some unexpectedly kind-hearted things as well. Azrael, with his barely controlled vampiric nature and loner life, is the most interesting of the four archangels. I'll give this series a try, but I'm not optimistic. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Avenger's Angel on

                     NOVEL 2:  Messenger's Angel                     
     The second book of this series is basically a replay of the first—this time set in Scotland. Here's how it goes: The hero locates his archess (the heroine) under less than pleasant circumstances; he claims her; she doesn't know what's going on and doesn't trust him; Samael grabs her; the Adarians attack them both; and eventually they achieve their HEA. The first 3/4 of the book is devoted to scenes in which each group takes turns kidnapping the archess, losing her to the other side, re-grabbing her, losing her—ad infinitum. The only new twist is that one of the Adarians turns rogue and tries to capture the archess on his own.

     This book's archess is a doctoral student named Juliette Anderson who has just received a generous research grant from a mysterious man named Samuel Lambent, whom we know is actually Samael, the slightly evil fifth archangel who spends his time making immortal life difficult for his four good-guy brothers. Per the book's title, the lucky archangel who is matched with Juliette is Gabriel, the Messenger archangel who also has a connection with reincarnation. That connection is the reason why Juliette has faint memories of having lived other lives in other times.

     Juliette is introduced to us as a nauseatingly perfect paragon of virtue. Although she is relatively poor, she has "a 'nasty habit' of giving away most of her money. She was just too sensitive. She hated to see people suffer...she lived modestly." (p. 8) And on top of that, she volunteers at a local children's home. Gabriel is also noble to the extreme, giving away his money to various local charities in his Scottish village, including—wait for it—a children's home. Gabriel's children's home is the abode of "nineteen children who had been recently displaced in the economy's downturn." (p. 49) What does that even mean? "Displaced" from where? Do children in Scotland suddenly become orphans when the economy goes bad? How can a tiny village suddenly acquire 19 orphans? One last thing: Is there even such a thing as a "children's home" any more? I thought they went out of fashion (sociologically speaking) decades ago in favor of foster care.

     As Juliette spends unwilling time with Sam, Gabriel, and various Adarians, she eventually figures out that Gabriel and his brothers are probably telling her the truth about her destiny. That leaves only the big finale—the requisite show-down scene in which the archangels rescue Juliette from the Adarians and she and Gabriel sacrifice their lives for one another and get their wings. The book has no other plot line—just the archess story.

     Even the major subplot is related to the archesses. Kevin, the Adarian leader has figured out a way to increase his powers, but then discovers that he is turning into a vampire. In the long run, Kevin, who has had a crush on Eleanor since she was a teenager, plans to to snatch her from Uriel so that he can enjoy her favors while using her healing powers to keep his warriors healthy.

     This series is extremely predictable and unnecessarily complex. Each Adarian, for example, has two different names and several different magical powers, so it's almost impossible to remember who can do what. The author manufactures these powers seemingly just to move the story along with no attempt at logic. For example, Kevin has the power to instantly teleport his men to remote locations, but this only works if they are losing a battle. Why would a power have this specific limitation? Answer: Because if he could teleport them at any time, the Adarians would be so formidable that they would never lose a battle with anyone. In this book specifically, Kevin would have been able to teleport the rogue Adarian to him at any time, thus spoiling the whole Adarian-rogue subplot. Here's another example of an illogical plot device: The archangels appear to have always known that Adarians are highly allergic to gold, but it isn't until very late in this book that they finally—after thousands of years of battling the Adarians—begin to use gold bullets. And here's one more improbable event: At one point, Gabriel falls off a cliff and thinks, "It's over. He would not survive the fall." (p. 373) Wait a minute—he's an immortal archangel who has lived thousands of years and fought endless battles, and he can get killed by a fall? This makes absolutely no sense at all.

     This is a lengthy book (nearly 400 pages) and much of the narrative is either repetitive or unnecessary. I found myself paging quickly through long physical descriptions of the Adarians because who cares what each individual enemy warrior looks like? We also get more physical descriptions of the archangels, even the ones who are only in a few scenes. Once again, who cares what they look like if they're not at the center of the story? This is definitely not first-rate story-telling. In addition to the repetitiveness and the overuse of description, it's also very melodramatic. For example, here's Juliette as she peers out of a train window, mooning over the beauty of the countryside and having feelings of "bereavement and loneliness": "Her blood was steeped in the richness that was the land." (This scene goes on for a two pages, and I could almost hear the swell of dramatic music in the background and visualize a pull-away soap-opera shot of Juliet's face, with trembling jaw and dewy eyes.)

     The author's use of language is frequently awkward and just plain clunky. In this example, Gabriel is reminiscing about past journeys across a small body of water: "The magnetism of the water never lost its pull. It never grew un-grand or un-magnificent." (p. 58) I can think of long lists of descriptive words that would beat the heck out of "un-grand" and "un-magnificent."

     Click HERE to read an excerpt from Messenger's Angel on

     Here's an FYI: The major scent that ties the happy couple together is that of Parma Violets, which I foolishly assumed was the name of a flower. Wrong! It's a brand of British candy. Click HERE for a description. 

                     NOVEL 3:  Death's Angel                     
     The third book follows the rocky road to romance for Azrael, the Angel of Death, and his archess, Sophie Bryce (BFF to Juliette Anderson, the heroine of book 2). The story begins at the wedding that closed book 2, where Azrael first lays eyes on Sophie and realizes that at long last he has found his true love. Instead of explaining the situation to his brothers and to Sophie herself (which would have simplified the plot and shortened the book considerably), he makes up all kinds of lame excuses to himself about why he should keep it a secret and allows Sophie return to Pittsburgh alone, but guarded by his vampires. 

     Sophie is an orphan with a horrible childhood (which is stereotypical for urban fantasy heroines), and it has left her an emotional wreck. She has repressed some of her worst memories, but they still eat away at her subconscious mind. As soon as Sophie meets Azrael, she falls in lust, unable to stop thinking and dreaming about him. When he shows up at a hockey game she is attending, she is thrilled just to be in his presence. She keeps fantasizing that he is a vampire, and she longs for him to bite her. When she moves to San Francisco, where she plans to attend Berkley on a dance scholarship, Azrael and his band just happen to be performing there, so their relationship continueswith Azrael still keeping her archess status a secret. Then, a catastrophic event forces Azrael to tell Sophie the truth, and shortly thereafter the evil Kevin (aka Abraxos) makes his move. He and his men kidnap Sophie, and the "snatch the archess" plot line kicks inthe same one that took up most of the plots of books 1 and 2. Interspersed are repetitious battles between the four favored archangels and various monsters, including the Adarians. In this book, though, a new and extremely powerful villain steps up. His name is Gregori, and no one knows much about him until almost the end of the book. By then, we learn that he has his own nefarious reasons for kidnapping Sophie, and we know that he will play a huge role in the next book.

     Once again, melodrama overflows in every part of the narrative and the dialogue. If these characters were actors on a stage, they would be rightly accused of hamming it up uncontrollably, 24/7. The mythology, which is already murky and complicated, gets some new convolutions. The author seems to confer new powers on characters every time her plot sequences require them. For example, now that Kevin and a few of his Adarians are vampires, all of a sudden he can not only travel through shadows, but can transport his men as well. If he couldn't, the author would have had to come up with a different way for Kevin to kidnap Sophie. All the way through, this author takes the easy way out. Instead of writing within the world-building rules and restraints she originally created, she just changes those rules and removes restraints as needed to advance the plot. A better writer would have worked within the mythology, following the rules and having the characters behave accordingly. It takes much less skill to enhance a character's powers as needed to fit events than it does to rework the events to fit the limits of the character's powers. 

     The characters are rather flat. Azrael, being the Angel of Death, is just as grim as you'd expect, but he's otherwise one-dimensionally perfect in every wayjust like all the rest of the favored fourgood-hearted, brave, courageous, blindingly handsome, with not a single dishonorable trait. As for Sophie: We're told that she grew up in poverty in cruel foster homes and could not afford to go to college. She has been working as a housekeeper in a hotel. Yet, she inherited money from her parents when she was 21, which she never touched until she reached her mid-twenties and won a scholarship to Berkley. Now, she says that she won't have to work because her inheritance will pay for all her living expenses in San Francisco. None of this rings true. In the first place, an inheritance of this size would have been set up as a trust with a guardian to administer it, with money being paid out over her childhood years for her upkeep. Second, why on earth would she be working as a hotel maid if she has access to her inheritance. We're told that she loves dancing, so why didn't she use that money for dance classes? Then we are told that she, like the previous archesses, is generous to a faultgiving away her maid's income to beggars on the street. So why then, wouldn't she have used some of her inheritance for charitable purposes instead of turning her back on it? Her life choices make absolutely no sense. Although we are provided with several repetitions of one brutal scene from Sophie's back story, that's the single concrete fact that we learn about her childhood. The only other thing we know about Sophie is that she lusts for Azrael. Yet, even though she imagines that he is a vampire and fantasizes about his bite, when he confesses that he really is a vampire, she turns against him (primarily because the central relationship in a paranormal romance novel of this type requires angst, and plenty of it). 

     This series is definitely not working for me, but if you read and enjoyed the first two books, you will probably like this one, too, because it's more of the same. If you haven't read the previous book, don't start with this one because it builds on information about events that occurred in books 1 and 2. The next book will feature Michael, the warrior angel, and his archess, Rhiannon. Both Samael and Gregori are after her, so be prepared for even more kidnappings and battle scenes than usual. 

     One last thing: Back in 2011, Jeaniene Frost intoduced aeriel vampire sex with a spectacular midnight scene in One Grave at a Time featuring Cat and Bones doing their sexy thing as they flew over the moonlit cornfields of Iowa. Since then, several authors have written their own knock-offs of that sensual performance. Now, Killough-Walden has jumped on the bandwagon, as she includes a scene that follows Azrael and Sophie through some graphically sensual gymnastics high above the Pacific coast. Click HERE to read a brief excerpt from Death's Angel (disappointingly, not the erotic air show).  

                     NOVEL 4:  Warrior's Angel                     
     In this novel, Michael the Warrior Archangel finds his archess and his HEA. Rhiannon Dante is a fire-wielding super-heroine, who spends her time battling and destroying evil humans and supernaturals, particularly those who abuse women and children. She works for a genial, but mysterious, man named Mr. Verdigri (aka Mr. V) and lives a building that houses Mr. V's business offices and provides apartments for all of his staff. 

     Michael and Rhiannon meet in the first scene, a huge battle that takes place in Central Park. Just as Michael realizes that Rhiannon is his archess, she is fatally wounded by a dragon. Almost immediately, the wicked Samael appears on the scene, promising to heal Rhiannonbut at a steep price. Michael begs Samael to save Rhiannon: "Take what you wil…whatever you want, it's yours…Just…save her." Samael heals the archess and then tells Michael what his punishment will be: "Everything you love, everything you worship, all that you hold dear, oh Favored One…you lose here and now. All that you loathe and fear and unfairly judge shall become your burden." The next thing we know, Rhiannon is waking up back in her apartment with no memory of what happened to her. When Michael awakens, he does remember everything that happened and realizes that Samael has turned him into a mutant being: part archangel, part vampire, and part Nightmare (i.e., incubus). This all sounds very bad for Michael, and for a moment, I thought we were going to have a great story involving Michael's attempts to deal with his new blood-sucking, lust-driven persona, but that's not the way that Killough-Walden takes the story. Instead, she does the same thing she always does. She makes Michael a perfect man/angel who calmly analyzes his situation and finds only good things in his reincarnation. Although the author briefly implies that Michael's big makeover will have a major negative effect on his relationship with his archess, that is not the case. The romance rolls along smoothly, with no real problems between the lovers, which means that it isn't very interesting. 

     As the story plays out, Rhiannon falls head over heels for Michaeland vice versaand they team up to fight off the bad supernaturals who are constantly after them. In particular, a gang of rogue gargoyles set their sights on Rhiannon and are determined to have her, either dead or alive. A slender secondary story line focuses on Mimi, a young girl who lives with her aunt in Mr. V's apartment building. Playing her usual role in the story is Angel, the mysterious woman who seems to know all about the archesses and the archangels and has a mysterious relationship with Samael. (The Angel-Samael story will be told in the next novel.)

     Missing from the book is the single ingredient that livened up the previous novels: the interaction among the angelic brothers. Michael is on his own throughout the book until the very last scene when his family comes to his rescue. After his initial appearance at the very beginning of the book, Samael, too, is largely absent from the action, and when he does show up (as one of Mr. V's clients) his presence serves no real purposejust a vague threatening presence with no follow-through. The villains in this story are the gargoyles and Grigori, both of whom cause a great deal of trouble for Rhiannon, Michael, and Mimi.

     The weakest part of this series has always been that the cotton-candy-sweet lead characters are always super-virtuous, good-hearted, optimistic, brave, altruistic champions with the depth of a thin cardboard cut-out. The villainous Samael, on the other hand, is a flawed, fascinating, and much more highly developed character than any of the heroes and heroines in the series. 

     The plot of this book is loosely woven, with more than a few gaps and awkward transitions. In that early Central Park battle, for example, Michael wonders why so many phantoms have been showing up lately, and he wonders if Gregori, their treacherous boss, is up to something. He also wonders why dragons and phantoms are teaming up against them. Unfortunately, all we get in this book are Michael's "wonderings"no actual facts about what is going on. The lead couple just fights one battle after another, with no knowledge as to what the end game is or who is behind the constant attacks by the phantoms and dragons. As a result, the book seems incomplete and unpolished, as if it were a quickly written first draft. 

     If you loved the earlier books, you'll probably like this one, but for me, it's just one more mediocre book in a below-average series. Nice cover art, though. Click HERE to go to this book's page where you can click on the cover art or the "Listen" icon to read or listen to an excerpt.


  1. LOL! You pretty much said what I said. I totally agree, I found some of the secondary characters more compelling. Azrael and Samael stole the show for me. I enjoyed all the characters, but they reached out to me the most. I also liked Lilith, I really want to know her story. Samael is definitely one of the best villains I've seen in a while. And don't get me started on the sex scene LOL! But like I said, we found out Ellie seems to be freaky, I just don't understand why it happened thwe way it did. It was unnecessary. Great review hon, you can check out mine here if you like:

  2. I loved the book, but will say that for me the character of Samael was the most captivating and engaging. There is always something compelling about a goodlooking morally ambiguous character. I dont believe that he is a "villain" as such but that he does have his own agenda and moral compass and that ultimatlety we will see him a true hero, hopefully in his own story.

  3. When is Michael's story coming? I'm waiting to read it! :-)