REVIEW: Avenger’s Angel by Heather Killough-Walden
Dear Ms. Killough-Walden:
I was excited about this book because while I found your self published title compelling, it was rough. I hoped that a professionally edited and full length story would bring out the best in your writing. Unfortunately, the voice that I found so interesting in the short self published work seemed missing and the really crazy aspects of the story made me roll my eyes instead of laugh. The characters and plot lacked originality and details were missing consistency and believability.
First, the first chapter was in the point of view of neither the hero or the heroine, but some random sequel bait and it really had nothing to do with the story at all. The overarching series plot is that there are four angels that need to find their archesses (fated mates): Gabriel, Uriel, Azriel and Michael. Avenger’s Angel is about Uriel but we start out with Michael and Azriel fighting each other because their transformation from angel to human has changed them and only their archesses will save them. Why Michael and Azriel? Why not Michael and Uriel or Uriel and Azriel?
The heroine is some kind of special person with telekinesis and power over the weather. When she was young, their family would move around a lot:
“Her father was a professor, and professors went wherever universities were hiring, so it was easy for him to move around the country. Her mother was an attorney in her own practice, so she was mobile as well.”
Her family would get up and leave at the drop of a hat. She had an “escape bag” so that they could run off right away to get away from the strange cars and strange men. The parents are wealthy yet they are still able to pick up and resettle in new environs as a PROFESSOR and an ATTORNEY? First, in order to sit for the bar, you have to be fingerprinted and are subjected to an FBI background check. After being in practice for some time, you can waive the bar exam when moving from state to state, but not always and it requires an extensive application. You can’t just swan from one state to another. A professorship is also not so easy to come buy as say a job making subs at a fast food chain. I understand that these are throw away passages but they show the problem with the overall book. There is no internal consistency or thoughtfulness in the way that characters are constructed. (or actual knowledge of the real world). Let’s look at how the two characters meet:
The hero is a movie star who starred in a movie called “Comeuppance.” He is traveling around the country going to bookstores to sign the novelized version of the movie. What? I mean, have you ever seen Richard Pattison in Barnes and Noble signing Twilight? The heroine is a bookseller. Comeuppance clearly a Twilight ripoff. Witness the exchange between two characters. One named Angel (rolled eyes) and Eleanore, the heroine.
E: You wouldn’t believe who’s here right now, signing autographs in my store.
A: Okay—autographs? I’m officially on the edge of my seat!
E: Christopher Daniels.
There was a long pause while, on the other end of the connection, Angel obviously processed the news.
A: You’re shitting me.
E: lol Nope. I’ve been off work for two hours, but Mister Jonathan Brakes is probably still there, wondering which of his adoring fans he can sink his teeth into for dinner. Or would it be breakfast?
A: I have never been more jealous of you than I am right now.
E: I thought you hated that movie.
A: Oh, I do. With a passion. Am I the only one creeped out by the thought of someone several hundred years old going after someone who’s barely twenty?” Talk about robbing the cradle. But Christopher Daniels is freaking HOT. Did you get to talk to him at all? Get his autograph?
Uriel recognizes that Ellie is his mate and goes chasing after her. Ellie is used to being on the run but she can’t escape Uriel.
Their first sex scene is really rather awful. It reads almost like a rape or a rape fantasy. He throws her face down on the bed. rips off her clothes and “renders [her virginity] in two”:
Very slowly, he withdrew his fingers from her tight moistness and had to suppress a growl of mounting insanity when she actually moaned her disappointment. She was not herself, he realized. He had taken her over, body and mind, and she was a slender, wanton vessel of desire beneath him.
and then there is this:
He lowered himself until he could once more whisper in her ear. “I’m going to take you now the way I’ve wanted to take you since I saw you that night in the bookstore,” he told her, keeping his grip on her hair tight so that she couldn’t pull away. “I’m going to take you hard and fast,” he promised her. “Because you’re mine, Ellie.” He almost growled his ownership. “And you always will be.”
With that, he covered her mouth with one hand and thrust forward, holding her still as he did so. In one clean, driving shove, he ripped through her virginity and rendered it in two.
The worldbuilding is fairly silly. For example, the four archangels are sent to earth with a mansion. Yes, room and board comes with your position as archangel. But it is not just a living space, but it is a transportation device as well. The mansion serves as a portal travel. At one point the archangels describe their place as very modest and I’m thinking that they live in a camper. A superdimensional RV. In another scene, they take the heroine shopping for a dress. In Paris. And three of the Archangels are with her. There is nothing Archangels love better than shopping for dresses. Of course they got to Paris through their transformational RV. All you have to do is stand before a door. EVEN A REFRIGERATOR door will work.
Uriel had given them each a buzz on his cell as soon as he’d left the signing and, through the use of the mansion and its magical properties, they’d all managed to head home right away. Any of the archangels could call up a portal to the mansion from anywhere in the world, so long as they were standing before a door. It didn’t matter what kind of door it was. Even a car door or the door to a refrigerator would work.
Okay, maybe I should be laughing. Remember, though, how I said the story lacked internal consistency?
At the moment, the four brothers were gathered in a relatively small, utterly normal-looking kitchen that sat just off a likewise normal-looking living room. The archangels all preferred their living space on the more modest side these days. Having been around for as long as they had, they already felt as if they’d literally seen everything.
Yet, later the house is described as :
Uriel paced to the landing and peered over the railing. Max Gillihan was just shutting the front door behind him, three stories below. With a blast of superhuman strength, Uriel leapt over the balcony railing, dropped the three stories to the marble foyer below, and crouched to absorb the impact as his boots slammed down.
Three story home with a marble foyer. Yeah, that’s normal looking and modest.
The end game for the Archangels is to find their mates and thus be saved from madness and turning into monsters.
The blend of reality and fantasy didn’t work here. The riffs on pop culture fell flat and the world building sounded more ridiculous than fun. If the story went all out and was entirely crazy all the time (aka Caris Roane books), I would have nodded along in agreement.
At times I felt Ellie was more placeholder than anything. Ellie played whatever role that the scene needed her to play. Resisting heroine here. Smart mouthed friend there. Shy and innocent in other places (girl hasn’t even been kissed before). Anyone could have been Uriel’s mate. Uriel, too, has little dimension. He’s straight out of paranormal romance casting. The paranormal who has searched for love for 2000 years and finds it only to be confronted by the fact that his archess might not love him back. Uriel doesn’t have any personality. We are told he is rich, gorgeous and powerful but there isn’t anything that sets him apart from any other character. They are even described the same:
As with all of the archangels, his chin was strong,
Killough-Walden, Heather (2011-11-01). Avenger’s Angel: A Novel of the Lost Angels (Kindle Location 623). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.
Further, Uriel and his posse seemed to have very little agency. Their encounters with the women, the outcomes, seemed to be orchestrated by powers above them.
The most interesting character was the villain or at least the man who appeared to be attempting to prevent Uriel and his brothers from consummating the bonds with their archesses. Samael was both good and bad and his duality provided more substance than either Uriel or Ellie. C-