Seeing as this is all new, I'm going to repost some of my GoodReads reviews here (with some editing). In this manner, you'll have something to read while I work on new material. Once again, it goes without saying that I've probably written spoilers, so read at your own risk. With that in mind, on with the show!
The Fallen Angels series, by J. R. Ward
In a new line of paranormal romance (i.e., stories for those who are tired of lamely written romance in the fantasy/sci-fi genre), J. R. Ward tackles something even more elusive and controversial than vampires or werewolves- angels and demons. The ultimate fight between Good and Evil is the new "goth/vampire/black". Jim Heron, a "saint in sinner's clothing", is charged with the task of saving or damning seven souls. It's the final round for the Stanley Cup in a way; whichever side wins four out of the seven souls first wins the fight between Heaven and Hell.
Here's why I like this book. In twenty years of reading romance novels, this is the first one that I have come across that discusses safer sex practices. The vast majority of romance novels rarely have the main characters talking about condoms, much less using them, unless it is a plot device. In fact, pregnancy is oftentimes a favored outcome for the story; other times the idea that anything could result from unsafe sex (pregnancy or diseases) is blithely ignored by the author. I have to applaud Ward for not only having the characters discuss condoms and their use regularly throughout the book, but also use them consistently.
I'm sure this seems a bit off the topic of the story itself, which I also found to be awesome. But it is such a rare thing, and I was so blown away by it, that I felt it merited discussion in my review. I think it shows great rolemodeling for a demographic that goes largely untargeted by safe sex campaigns. Women in their late forties through their sixties are becoming a rising segment of the population that are contracting STI's. Most of these women were already in committed monogamous relationships when the HIV/AIDS epidemic first started to hit US society, so they were mostly ignored in the campaigns for sexual education. Now they are going through divorce, and they are dating again. According to polls, most only think of condoms as a way to prevent pregnancy, and thus do not use them regularly. This book is a great alternative way to reach that demographic, positively demonstrating the consistent need for the use of condoms. Big fat gold star for the author on that one.
As to the story itself, loved it. Could. Not. Put. It. Down. The plot twists were very cool, and left you guessing to the end. The character development was also nicely done. I think the super-plot of the series is deeply metaphysical without religious vigor. The characters were well-defined, and each had a clear voice and purpose. Overall, very good book, and I recommend it anyone looking for a different flavor of (paranormal) romance.
The second book in this series is just as addictive as the first. Here's a copy of the synopsis from GoodReads-
"Seven deadly sins. Seven souls that must be saved. One more no-holds- barred battle between a fallen angel with a hardened heart and a demon with everything to lose.
Isaac Rothe is a black ops soldier with a dark past and a grim future. The target of an assassin, he finds himself behind bars, his fate in the hands of his gorgeous public defender Grier Childe. His hot attraction to her can only lead to trouble-and that's before Jim Heron tells him his soul is in danger. Caught up in a wicked game with the demon who shadows Jim, Isaac must decide whether the soldier in him can believe that true love is the ultimate weapon against evil."
In all all honesty, the romance is kinda like a side show to the main event of Jim Heron and the paranormal plot. Even for that, it was still well-written, sophisticated, and dirty. I like that combination a lot. Also, another gold star to the author in the safer sex department. Though it did bug me a little bit that condoms weren't used by the characters, I liked it just as much that they at least had a conversation about their sexual history and mutually agreed to the condomless sex. In this particular book, pregnancy turned out to be a plot device for the author, so I'll let it slide.
This series is almost like Buffy/Angel/Charmed in reverse. Instead of monster-of-the-week and in-depth character growth over time, this series has the romance-of-the-week with overarching monster plot dovetailing with in-depth character development. I find it to be very addicitve; this is the perfect recipe for my imagination. Thus far, I find the character of Jim Heron to be intriguing is his evident simplicity. Between his sidekicks, Adrian Vogel and Eddie Blackhawk, this is one shit-kicking team. A sexy, muscle-bound, shit-kicking team.
The author's own inner monologue comes through very clearly as well. Some of the one-liners are just perfect, and you might find yourself laughing out loud. I'd give quote examples, but I don't have the book with me. Overall, book well done, and I give it 4.5 stars.
GoodReads synopsis- "As the son of a serial killer, homicide detective Thomas "Veck" DelVecchio, Jr., grew up in the shadow of evil. Now, on the knife-edge between civic duty and blind retribution, he atones for the sins of his father- while fighting his inner demons. Assigned to monitor Veck is Internal Affairs officer Sophia Reilly, whose interest in him is both professional and arousingly personal. And Veck and Sophia have another link: Jim Heron, a mysterious stranger with too many answers... to questions that are deadly. When Veck and Sophia are drawn into the ultimate battle between good and evil, their fallen angel savior is the only thing that stands between them and eternal damnation."
Wow, if I was addicted before, the plot twists in this third book have me by the short hairs. Worse yet, this one was just released, so I probably have another six months to a year to wait for the next one. On the other hand, I have recently discovered that the author has another series that predates this one. AHA! Not only that, but the setting are of the same universe. It's possible that some of the characters I already know from this series will show up in the other one. As for Envy, I'm still reeling from the plot.
The titles themselves have made me stop to ponder their meanings. What is it in the book that exemplifies the title? What in the nature of the characters fits in with that theme, and how does it shape their development? Things for me to think on, and I'll post my results here later. Back to the world of being Mommy.