In my quest to squeeze all the good reads I can from my local library, I have been pleased to see that at least someone on their purchasing staff is aware of J.R. Ward (sadly, they are also under the impression that what we need is more Danielle Steele in the collection as well, but I digress). In any event, during my pre-holiday stock up, I grabbed this recent entry in the Fallen Angel series, also known as the not-BDB-series-yet-featuring-BDB-cameos-and-slang series. I don't know any other writer that uses phrases like a "cup of wakey wakey" or has bad-ass tough guys drop phrases like "abso" in place of absolutely. Seriously. Who says that stuff? But bizarrely enough, I still find her books eminently readable. I can't stop turning the pages. So she's doing something right.
This entry finds our angel/hero Jim Heron back in Caldwell (hrm, who else do we know who lives there?) to fight another round in the war of souls against the demon Devina. His angel buddies Eddie and Adrian are still backing him up and helping him to get up to speed on the rules and tricks of the supernatural trade. The story revolves around Thomas "Veck" DelVecchio, Jr., a cop who happens to be the son of a famous serial killer. When he finds himself on the scene of a murder but with no memory of what happened right before he got there, he's investigated by Sophia Reilly, an officer from Internal Affairs, and oh yeah, she happens to be a hottie and a hard-ass. Match. Made. In. Heaven. (how's my ward-speak?) Veck isn't sure whether or not he committed the murder. He's always felt like he has a shadow waiting inside him...is he his father's son?
It's pretty much impossible to summarize the plot without either writing a helluva lot or giving away lots of spoilers, but suffice it to say that Veck and Reilly's story intersects with Jim, Devina and the rest of the gang with mayhem, blood and spirit possessions going down like you might expect. And there were a few twists that I didn't expect either.
As far as the romance angle goes, it seems like so far in this series the couples fall pretty hard for one another in a matter of a few days. It's not quite the BDB "fated mates" type thing, but definitely a strong and swift attraction. What I liked about this particular book was that Reilly was that rare female character who actually did come across as sensible and smart. She's also realistic. She is attracted to Veck and can acknowledge that without getting overly emo or denial-y. I like it when a modern woman in a novel set in the contemporary era is allowed to own her sexuality. So kudos to Ward for improving on the "females" from that other series.
All in all, I had mixed feelings when I finished the book. It a fast read because the action just keeps on moving forward, and the characters were well drawn, I felt. The camaraderie between the angels is a little reminiscent of the brothers but not quite as vibrant. But on the plus side the homoerotic subtones are there and they don't feel subtle or apologetic as in that other series. I guess in the end, it is hard to read this series without making comparisons to the BDB whether you want to or not. And in that regard it doesn't stand on its own, imo. Still...eminently readable. I'll be there for the next outing.