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Cynthia Eden

REVIEW:  Angel in Chains by Cynthia Eden

REVIEW: Angel in Chains by Cynthia Eden

Dear Ms. Eden:

I saw a lot of twitter chatter about this book a couple of months ago amongst reviewers. I had a copy of the ARC sent to me by Kensington so I figured it wouldn’t be a big hassle to at least give the story a try. While this is the third in the series, I did not feel like I needed to read the first two. In fact, given that the hero of this story was the villain in the previous two, I might have been more receptive to the character’s placement as the hero in the book.

Angel in Chains (The Fallen #3) by Cynthia EdenAzriel was an Angel of Death but for some reason not apparent in the beginning, he fell. He is now on Earth, a powerful being with the ability to heal from mortal wounds and kill with a touch but he longs to return above. His desire to return stems not from a love but from a sense of comfort and place of being. Azriel knew duty and death above. On Earth, he feels. He desires, he lusts, he hurts. His newly awakened senses, both physical and mental, are constantly bombarded and he seeks the peace of his previous state.

Jade, a human, is temptation incarnate. He lusts after her but when he finds out that she is being hunted by a pack of Shapeshifters, he believes her protection might be his redemption. He needs to sacrifice, he is told, to return. It’s clear that Azriel’s path toward redemption is unlikely to be what he clings to initially but it provides a reasonable basis for him to hang around Jade.

Being near Jade is dangerous because her former lover is one of the most powerful Shapeshifters in the Southern U.S. He will do anything to return Jade to his arms and he certainly doesn’t want another man defiling her. He has killed lovers of hers before as well as anyone with whom she befriends. He’s truly the stalker boyfriend from hell. I kind of appreciated the villianous portrayal of Brandt, the ex, who believes that Jade is his. This is the opposite of how ultra possessive boyfriends are played for effect in many romance novels these days. Yet, Azriel develops those same possessive feelings quickly. I guess we are to see him as heroic because he will die to have her rather than kill to keep her.

Despite being human, Jade is shown to be a very accomplished fighter. Some of her techniques she has learned from Brandt, the shapeshifter. Others she’s developed being on the run from her ex. Jade’s competence in fighting the paranormals can challenge one’s suspension of disbelief. At times she seems to have better reflexes and fighter instincts than a demon or a shifter.

Az’s fall and his origins are a bit of a mystery. This is one area in which I was uncertain whether more was revealed in previous stories or he was simply an obscured character for effect. Further, given that he’s essentially a newborn when it comes to emotions and feelings, I was disappointed that his sexuality, among other things, came off as someone experienced. I feel like this was a lost opportunity to play up Az’s virginity, in all aspects. He’s experienced at fighting but that was about it but he comes off as knowledgeable about all things.

Foreshadowing is done with a heavy hand. Early in the book, Az’s “brother” tells him that humans could be his downfall and, of course, that is prophetic. The prose is often given over to big, dramatic statements. Because Az’s desire to return above is premised on something other than true belief in a higher calling, it is easier for him to switch courses from salvation to succor in Jade’s arms. The suspensions of disbelief may be hard for some readers to swallow, but I was pretty entertained throughout the book. C+

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW: Angel of Darkness by Cynthia Eden

REVIEW: Angel of Darkness by Cynthia Eden

Dear Ms. Eden:

The opening scene of the book is intriguing because it doomed a character to a horrible fate, or so he believes.  Keenan is an angel of death and he has been dispatched to harvest the soul of Nicole St. James.  He finds her suffering a horrific attack at the hands of a vampire and Keenan not only hesitates but transfers his death touch to the vampire thus violating his two thousand year charge.  One mistake plummets Keenan into the ranks of the Fallen, his wings stripped and his entrance to the heavens barred.

Angel of Darkness	Cynthia EdenChapter One starts six months later.  “The rage began to heat his blood because it shouldn’t have been like this.”  Keenan has been hunting Nicole for months.  He has been told that she is the key to his redemption which he believes to be his path to grace and into the heavenly hosts.   Chapter One also begins the path of confusion for me.  Keenan’s motivations and actions are inconsistent and changeable. I suppose some of this could be chalked up to the uncertainty and newness of being fallen, but the mutability of his behavior, particularly toward Nicole, was unsettling and not in a good way.

Another problem is the way in which only parts of the entire world are shown in this book.  Neither Nicole nor Keenan know much about the paranormal world but there are vampires, fallen angels with powers, shapeshifters, and higher powers with unknown motives.  Each time they turn the corner, the body count gets higher and a new discovery about this strange world they’ve been thrust into arrives.  But if Keenan has been alive for 2,000 years, why is everything such a mystery to him.  Is he that myopic or obtuse?

Also unexplained is the heroine’s transformation from school teacher to vamp, as in scantily clad, high heeled, bar trolling vamp.  Keenan describes her pre vampiric state as being staid and somewhat conservative.  And in six months (which are not in the book but occur between the prologue and Chapter one) she turns from normal school teacher to angry vamp (in all meanings of the word).  This seems so cliched and unnecessary.  Like she all of a sudden has to look like Lara Croft complete with the belly baring leathers and tight shirt once she’s a blood sucker?

The strength of their feelings as written toward each other don’t match the overall story.  They barely know each other.  They are
running from demons, she’s learning he is an angel, she is scared of the vamps who had control of her.  He has negative feelings toward her because she’s supposedly at fault for his fall (DUDE, YOU DECIDED TO SAVE HER) and yet they are all over each other.  The whys of their attraction escaped me. The emotional character arcs seemed lost as well. The strength of the book lay within the suspense structure.

The plot, although with many parties, was fairly well constructed.  Keenan, as a newly fallen angel, is unaware that he has any powers. Angels are the most powerful beings in the paranormal hierarchy.  To get more powerful, you need only the pure blood of the angel.  Keenan becomes a target.  Nicole is one as well because of what she had to do to survive during her first six months as a vampire. Both are helped out by another fallen Angel, Sam, who is actually more interesting than both Keenan and Nicole.  Sam’s motivations for helping Keenan are murky but without Sam, Keenan would be angel dust and Nicole would be dead.  The focus of the book was on the action narrative and the lust/sex/love sections felt tacked on.  I also didn’t feel like I left the story with a greater understanding of the world than when I entered it. A lot of the world building was in the existence of the characters rather than the setting which made it feel a bit more disjointed.

I think the whole story would have worked better if it was structured more like an urban fantasy and the romance between Nicole and Keenan involved slowly.  The worldbuilding breaks no ground. It was the romance that I felt the book was tired and cliched whereas the action plot kept me turning the pages.  C

Best regards,

Jane

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