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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sylvia Day's RENEGADE ANGELS Series

Author: Sylvia Day
Publisher and Titles: Signet Eclipse
    A Dark Kiss of Rapture (free prequel e-book) (Raze & Kimberly) 
    A Touch of Crimson (2011) (Adrian & Lindsay)
    A Hunger So Wild (7/2012) (Elijah & Vashti)
    A Taste of Seduction (4/2014) (Syre & Karin)

     This blog entry was revised and updated on 8/4/12 to include a review of the second book in the series, A Hunger So Wild. That review comes first, followed by an overview of the world-building and a review of book 1: 

        BOOK 2:  A Hunger So Wild        
     Book 2 begins just after the climactic ending of book 1, with the Lycans in full revolt against the Sentinels. As Elijah, the new Lycan alpha, gathers together his followers, he gradually learns that there are traitors in their ranks. Elijah had never been in favor of the revolt, but was pushed into it by his friend, Micah, who is now deadkilled by Vashti, second in command to Syre, the leader of the Fallen. In that incident, Micah was defending Elijah against Vashti, who was trying to kill Elijah because she mistakenly thought that Elijah had killed her best friend. (It's a long and complicated story.)

     When Syre learns of the Lycans' revolt, he decides to take advantage of the situation because he needs the Lycans to help him discover the cause of the Wraith Virus, which is what they are now calling the plague that is decimating the ranks of the Fallen. Syre's chief epidemiologist needs the virus to be tracked back to its first victims so that they can determine how and where it originated. Since the Lycans vastly outnumber the Fallen, Syre needs the Lycans to handle that task, so he sends Vashti to meet with Elijah. The problem is that Vashti hates Lycans because they killed her mate, and Elijah despises Vashti because she killed his BFF Micah. (Elijah doesn't yet know that Micah was a traitor who planted fake evidence that implicated Elijah in the death of Vashti's friend.) Even though Vashti and Elijah have every reason to hate each other, they are also sexually attracted to one another in a flaming hot manner. The story follows the couple as they overcome their differences, make passionate love every chance they get, and attempt to find the cause of the Wraith Virus. In addition, they strike a bargain to assist each other in solving two murder cases: Elijah will identify the Lycans who killed Vashti's mate, and Vashti will discover the identities of the Vampires who killed Lindsay's mother.

     This book continues the series story arc of the search for traitors among, not only the Lycans, but the Fallen and the Sentinels as well. We get hints as to their identities, but no solid clues, although I'm wondering if Phineas (Adrian's right-hand man) is really dead or if he is one of the bad guys. This is definitely not a stand-alone read because it relies heavily on plot points and characters from book 1. Although the author includes several summaries of past events, I'd still recommend that you read book 1 first. This continues to be a strong, if formulaic, paranormal romance series with a well-designed mythology and a consistently compelling story arc. Click HERE to read an excerpt.

     In this inventive world, the creation story for Vampires and Lycans relies on the Book of Enoch as it goes back to the tale of the original fallen angels who were the Watchers. When the Watchers interfered with mortals, mated with them, and fathered their children (aka the nephalim—singular is naphil), they became Fallen. Their wings and their souls were stripped away and they became blood-sucking Vampires. An elite army of the Seraphim—the Sentinelswere sent to earth to keep the Vampires under control, but they needed assistance. The leader of the Sentinels (Adrian Mitchell), made a deal with some of the Fallen. He would spare them from vampirism if they agreed to indenture themselves to the Seraphim and help track down and kill errant Vampires. This group retained their souls but not their wings. They were transfused with the blood of werewolves (who are demons in this world), and the result was Lycans. As you read the series, just remember that the Fallen are Vampires, the Sentinels are angels, and the Lycans have demon blood.

     As the series opens, all Lycans are in servitude to the Sentinels, and all Vampires are enemies of both the Lycans and the Sentinels. One last group, the archangels, are also under the command of the Sentinels and are primarily in charge of keeping the demon population under control. At least, that's how its been for thousands of years.

     Now, however, several things are happening to rock this carefully constructed world. First, the Lycans are sick and tired of living their lives under the total control of the Sentinels. Second, a terrible plague is sweeping the Vampire race, causing Vampires to foam at the mouth and go absolutely crazy with violent bloodlust. Finally, some of the Seraphim are beginning to have feelings of emotion. This is highly unusual because when the Seraphim were created, they were forbidden to have emotions or to love anyone, especially a mortal. (Remember, that's what got the nephalim into so much trouble way back in the beginning.) Anyhow, the winds of change are blowing, and the characters in this series are being buffeted all over the place.

        BOOK 1:  A Touch of Crimson        
     As book 1 opens, the Sentinels' leader, Adrian, has just learned of the murder of his friend and second in command (Phineas). Then, his helicopter pilot is secretly replaced by a crazed Vampires who tries to kill him. Hours later in an airport, he has one of those stranger-across-a-crowded-room moments when he is drawn to a young woman (Lindsay Gibson) who appears to be carrying the soul of his lost love, Shadoe. It's a long story....Eons ago, Adrian fell in love with Shadoe, who was a naphil. Adrian tried to fight the attraction but eventually succumbed, even knowing that this would probably result in his becoming one of the Fallen. When Shadoe was mortally wounded in a battle, Adrian took her to her Vampire father (Syre) to be healed, but instead Syre tried to change her over to vampirism. Adrian refused to let that happen, so he killed her. Because Shadoe was a Naphal, her body died, but her soul didn't, and she has come back to him a number of times over the centuries in the bodies of human women. Each time she returns, Syre tries to find her and change her over so that he can take her away from Adrian and have her to himself. Talk about unfriendly in-laws! (See, I told you it was a long story.)

     So...the plot follows the romance between Adrian and Lindsey, the attempts by Syre to get his daughter back, the investigation of Phineas' murder, and the cause/effect of the Vampire plague. Oh, yes...and don't forget the rebellious Lycans. Lindsey has her own tragic reasons for hating Vampires, and Adrian soon learns that she has some warrior skills and superhuman capabilities that he never expected. The couple has a huge roadblock to their romance: If they remain together, Adrian is likely to become a Fallen and forfeit his soul. Several of the plot threads are tied up at the end, but the Lycans revolution and the Vampire plague are left to be dealt with in future books.

     This looks to be a good, solid paranormal romance series with plenty of action and angst. The lead characters are well developed, as are a few of the supporting characters. In book 1, the most complex supporting characters are the two who will be the lead couple in book 2: Elijah and Vashti. Elijah is the most fully developed and the most sympathetic character in A Touch of Crimson, so I'm really looking forward to reading his story. The best part of the series for me is that although the three groups are set against one another (Vampires, Lycan, and Seraphim), no group is either all good or all bad, although a given group may have a rotten apple or two (or ten). Day includes a glossary at the beginning of the book characterizing all of the major supernatural beings in this world.

     Click HERE to read an excerpt from A Touch of Crimson. The character of Adrian is first introduced in "Eve of Warfare" in The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Fiction 2 (2010). That story connects Day's MARKED world with her RENEGADE ANGELS world but is not essential to the new series.

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