Saturday, November 12, 2011

Review of Heather Killough-Walden’s Avenger’s Angel

Title: Avenger’s Angel (The Lost Angels #1)
Author: Heather Killough-Walden
Publisher: Signet
Format: Mass Market Paperback & eBook
Source: NetGalley
Publication Date: November 1, 2011
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

I’ve long been a fan of Heather Killough-Walden’s self published books. Most are priced at only $ 0.99, and she has a strong authorial voice with plots that tend to feature intriguing twists. So I was thrilled when I learned that Signet would be publishing her newest series, The Lost Angels. The first book in the series, Avenger’s Angel, just came out last week and is a paranormal romance featuring Angels, a trend that’s becoming more popular these days. While I’m disappointed that the book doesn’t add much new to the current flock of Angel-themed PNRs, overall it’s a solid first book in the series and an enjoyable read.
The premise of the book is that over 4,000 years ago four archangels were promised mates, or archesses, but when the females were sent to Earth for their protection, the archangels elected to fall to Earth to search for them. Uriel, the archangel of vengeance, is the first to find his archess in the person of Eleanore Granger, a woman hunted by a mysterious organization for her ability to heal others.
I like that this book sets up the series well while keeping our interest in the main couple. The other archangels, Gabriel, Azrael, and Michael are also searching for their archesses, though after 4,000 years they have nearly given up hope. There are a few hints that Gabriel’s archess has been discovered, setting up the next book in the series, but the archangels’ enemy, Samael, is overwhelmingly my favorite character in the novel. He’s an enigmatic villain, as he attempts to secure Eleanore’s interest and tells her half-truths in an effort to undermine Uriel. However, his friendship with Lilith and the archangels’ guardian Max’s interest in Lilith create interesting secondary stories that I’m looking forward to seeing developed in future books.
The book moves along well, but the second half definitely picks up the pace, as there’s a great deal more action taking place. True to Ms. Killough-Walden’s style in her self-published books, there are several unexpected twists that I really enjoyed. The final battle will keep you turning the pages, and I love that Eleanore is the one who saves the day, rather than the male characters. This is all the better because Eleanore really isn’t the kick-arse kind of female protagonist we’re used to seeing in PNR and UF, but she manages to surprise the males.
The romance between Uriel and Eleanore didn’t blow me away, to be honest. I’ve written elsewhere that I’m not a huge fan of the “fated mates” trope, and this series relies heavily upon that idea. At times the so-called good guys seemed more interested in trapping Eleanore into her “fated” relationship than in Uriel making a sincere effort to woo her. In fact, I felt that Samael set off more sparks with Eleanore than Uriel did (perhaps because he’s the forbidden bad boy?). So while I liked the couple together, the romance aspect of the novel felt a bit forced.
A minor complaint about the book is that it really doesn’t feel all that original. I’m not sure if that’s because there are so many angel related PNR/UF novels out at the moment or not, but despite that, the premise is strong and the characters intriguing enough to keep my interest. I’ll definitely read the next book in the series.
I was, however, very disappointed that Ms. Killough-Walden’s voice was so subdued in this novel. One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed her self-published books so much is how strong her authorial voice is. You could open any of her self-published books and know immediately that she was the author, which is a huge selling point. I’m not sure I could say the same for Avenger’s Angel.
All of my criticism of the novel can easily be resolved in future books, so I have high hopes for this series. Ms. Killough-Walden remains a favorite of mine, and I’m looking forward to seeing the other archangels find their archesses.

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