April 30, 2013

Review - Wicked Nights by Gena Showalter

Title: Wicked Nights
Author: Gena Showalter
Series: Angels of the Dark #1
Length: 411
Publisher: Harlequin
Original Publication Date: June 26th 2012
Leader of the most powerful army in the heavens, Zacharel has been deemed nearly too dangerous, too ruthless -- and if he isn't careful, he'll lose his wings. But this warrior with a heart of ice will not be deterred from his missions at any cost…until a vulnerable human tempts him with a carnal pleasure he's never known before.

Accused of a crime she did not commit, Annabelle Miller has spent four years in an institution for the criminally insane. Demons track her every move, and their king will stop at nothing to have her. Zacharel is her only hope for survival, but is the brutal angel with a touch as hot as hell her salvation -- or her ultimate damnation?

I was a bit afraid when I started this books, because Angels of the Dark is the spinoff of the Lord of the Underworld series, and I have read only the first two books in the LOTU and I didn't know how much effect  it will has on my reading experience with Wicked Nights. I'm happy to say, it had none. I still fairly enjoyed the book without catching up on LOTU. It is possible, however that a veteran Showalter/LOTU fan will see some things differently.

I've often said that I love it when a book starts with a BAMM not sparing the main character(s), but what I love even more is when it is able to keep the good pace. Wicked Nights more or less succeeded in that. There were slower parts, of course that gave the readers some peace so they can sit back and relax. Unfortunately sometimes they bored me enough to make me put the book down for a while. This does NOT necessarily mean that the book lacks action. HELL NO! On the contrary, despite the fact that half of them weren't really that omg-my-heart-wants-to-jump-out-of-my-chest kinda exciting, they're got the events revved up. And even though I wasn't concerned about the character's safety, it was nice to "see" demon heads, tails, hands and other body parts falling off. Yes, the book does not prettify, which should be tortured, it is tortured, which should be killed, it is killed, the demons are dropping like flies. Well, of course sometimes neither our heroes walking away without scars from a fight.

The world building was not too extravagant, there are angels, demons and humans. Heaven, Earth and Hell. In short, the usual lineup. There wasn't any extraordinary changes about the demon race and their world, but the Angels are a completely different story. I really liked their world. The living clouds, the hierarchy, loved that there are a variety of additional classes (joybringers, warriors, etc ...) and the appearance of angels/weapons as well. I know it is not unique in their mythology, however it's fair to say that in the PNR genre, authors often tend to re-create the Angels's world and they tend to make it less complicated and with that a bit boring, too. And that is what became common. So I always love to see when a book brings back the traditional concept (flaming swords, different angel classes, etc) and the author adds some of her own imagination. Gena did that.

Zacharel's character, of the majority of the time, I loved. Cold, anti-social, ambitious, ruthless. And of course since this is a PNR, he has scars on his soul. He lost the one person he loved. He defys the rules and spares no human lives when it comes to destroying demons. Until his King entrust an army of just as ruthless as Zach, autonomous Angels to Zacharel to lead and he has to pay for their deeds. Zacharel thinks this is a punishment, but he's soon to relize that maybe it's their only chance to prove they are worthy of their wings and to save themselves. Zacharel, however can not get a grip on his men and he does really not do everything in his power to keep them at bay. They don't respect him.  So it was an interesting twist that the small change in the group came with Annabelle. A human. The one character I was most concerned about. I thought she was going to be the usual weak, whiny, unable to help herself, endangering everyone around her type of character. Well, I was wrong. Okay, She pretty much threatens our Angels with her mere presence, but she can't help about that. But She is not at all helpless and speaks her mind if the situation requires it, and she has a good sense of humor, and I loved her sarcasm.  Annabelle was a pleasant surprise to me. She is not a superhero, but considering she is human and the thing she's been through, she is really kick-ass girl. The importance of protecting her brings the Angels together and ignites the spark of hope that maybe they are not so incorrigible after all. But with her not only positive, but unfortunately, the negative change is coming too, and therefore I give the book "only" 4 stars.

Thanks to Annabelle, Zacharel changes at about three-quarters of the book and his personality quite often takes a 180 degree turn... in a bad way. So much that it made me nuts. Sometimes I thought that maybe the poor guy has some kind of personality disorder, or that he's possessed by something. Or maybe in one scene Cupido popped in, and shot all of his ammo into our Angel's ass and I somehow missed that, I don't know. But seriously, Annabelle and his love for her took over his mind so much that I was waiting for the pages to flow out of the book. I do not really get why Gena had to turn inside out his character, in addition from one line to another. Okay, maybe the fact that I didn't really feel this big romance these two had between them has cranked up my issue with this. The attraction between them had been there from the beginning, that's okay, but Gena didn't really let them get together, and then all of a sudden I blink once and they're so madly in love that the rest of the world can go screw itself. Really?? Not feeling at all!

About the side characters, every now and then the reader can admire the members of Zach's army as they too get some chapters on their own, which sometimes I enjoyed more than our two lovebirds. Especially when a mysterious character showed up, about whom we absolutely know nothing but she knows three angels's best kept secrets. And since I could not find anything about this chick, she's not in the second book either, I'm so curious I could die... WHO IS SHE???  In addition, who are worth mentioning are the Lords of the Underworld and their mates. Surely they show up once or twice and causes a few funny moments, and they convinced me that I should finally continue their series.

Anyway, the book's great mysticism, in principle, is that we do not know who is the Demon Lord who's after Annabelle, right? I say in principle, because - although not at the beginning of the book, but not much later the reader can have a pretty good guess on who this John Doe really is, and it is confirmed at the end. This could pull of my rating from 4stars to 3,5 stars, however I liked this twist. It was predictable, yes, but the idea was great. I liked it. I liked the way the Lord's name (Unforgiveness) fits into the story.  Besides, the final twist, which can be linked to Annabell (let's just say, she's kinda lost her humanity) I think deserves a big fat gold star. I was expecting the reverse result all along, but I liked it anyway.

Favorite character(s): Zach, Annabelle, Thane, Koldo
Favorite scene(s): Zach and Anna's first meeting at the Institute,  Demons vs Angels battle scenes, Annabelle's battle with the Demon Lord.

Favorite quote(s):

“You are beyond frustrating,” she grumbled. “Why can’t you do what I ask you to do without issuing a million questions first?”
“I could say the same to you.”
“I don’t- Argh.” She raised a fist at him. “So maybe I do ask a lot of questions. So what. Anyone in my position would do the same. Besides, I’m a girl and that’s my job. You’re a boy. You’re supposed to pound your chest with your fists and grunt, then do everything in your power to please me.”
“Hardly. The man you just described is more likely to knock you over the head with a club and drag you away by the hair.”

„I'm not crazy, and we're not alone. I told them, but the only two people who ever believed me were the schizophrenic abducted by aliens and his invisible friend. I told them!”

“There are a thousand different ways to hurt someone, Zacharel.”
That, he knew well. “There are also a thousand different ways to heal."
"… the truth might hurt but when used properly, it’s never purposely cruel."

Overall: Sufficiently fast-paced, full of likable (though sometimes annoying) characters, great book. I recommend to every angel, and pnr book lover.

DhesiX Web Developer

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