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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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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

6 Comments

  1. Shanda
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 22:12:05

    Wow, the book sounds so interesting! Sucks that the romance was cliched :(

    ReplyReply

  2. eggs
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 03:15:33

    Vampires AND fallen angels? Good gravy. I bet it sells a million!

    I really love PNR, but after some soul searching (ha ha), I have come to the conclusion that PNR involving either demons or angels (written as coming from the Judeo-Christian ‘world’) is not for me. They always leave me with a skeevy feeling even worse than a 1970′s HP staring a 43 year old guardian and his 16 year old ward that he’s ‘loved from afar’ since she was 13. Vampires and shapeshifters and what have you’s formulated from whole cloth bother me not at all, in fact, I enjoy them immensely. But, just like those 1970′s HP’s violate my sense of right and wrong, so does taking someone’s heartfelt religious beliefs and using them to generate a PNR fuckfest. Not that I have anything against fuckfests per se. In fact, some of my closest literary friends are fuckfests …

    ReplyReply

  3. Maddie
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 12:51:45

    @eggs:

    Wow 43 year old man lusting after a kid, sounds like a pulled from the headlines, what book was this? I love HP but when I look at some of the age difference today it kinds of skeeves me out today.

    I saw this book on the shelf and for some reason I’m kind of getting sick of all these angel stories.

    There is something cheesy about a shirtless man with a cape, something a long the lines of a Backward Flasher.

    Hero sounds kind of clueless and confused. Pass on this one

    ReplyReply

  4. Pamela L
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 13:30:02

    HP sounds like LOLITA by Nabokov.

    ReplyReply

  5. eggs
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 21:59:25

    Actually, I’ve read quite a few HP’s with this kind of age gap when the hero knew the heroine was The One from a very early age. I read a bunch of the old heroine-is-the-ward HP’s in the late 70′s/early 80′s ( i guess they were written in the 70′s?). There was a whole sub-genre of guardian/ward HPs.

    One that skeeved me out even then was one where the hero revealed to his heroine that HER OWN FATHER knew he’d had the hots for her since she turned 13 and had APPROVED. Something about gazing at her longing while she decorated a Christmas tree and dear old Dad gave him the wink wink nudge nudge of approval. He and Dad were business partners. You have to remember that the old skool HP heroines were usually only 17/18 years old to start with, and the heros were always 30+.

    ReplyReply

  6. Maddie
    Dec 18, 2011 @ 11:26:53

    @eggs:

    Actually the h’s father didn’t want the H around after that and sent him away until he felt his daughter was old enough, but she became engaged to the french man and the father died owing the H lots of money so the h had to break her engagement to the french man and marry the H.

    Yeah I read that one, but the thing I did like about it was that the H was disturbed himself to find himself attracted to the h as young as she was and took himself around others her age and found out that it was just her that he was attracted to, (that was an yuck factor still) the age was freaky though.

    Not sure what the legal age of consent is in the UK back then but yeah HP were scratching at the line of decency in some of those books.

    ReplyReply

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