Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wicked Nights by Gena Showalter

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?

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This story has a lot of potential on the surface, but never quite delivers in many ways. While the beginning and ending are strong, much of the middle part of it suffers from writing that is just a bit shallow, in my opinion, including actions, dialogue, and plot points that are rather too cliched and predictable to the point it all verges on being a bit too cheesy.

Annabelle is a strong character, a fighter, who even after being forced to spend 4 years confined to an institution for the criminally insane, heavily drugged and often abused by her doctors and guards, her spirit has remained unbroken, and she still lashes out and fights back at every opportunity in whatever way she can. Once rescued, she refuses to sit back and be taken care of and protected, but insists on remaining in the thick of things, challenging Zacharel at every point, always standing up for herself and never allowing him to rule her completely. Her main fault lies in her frequent inability to control her emotions, which often leads to her acting rashly in the heat of fury or out of fear. This really just serves to make her a believable character, however, a characterization that is one of the novel's strong points.

Zacharel is an angel on the verge of falling, largely because at the outset he is completely lacking in any sense of compassion or caring. He fights demons, but often slays humans as well along the way, unconcerned by such "collateral damage", particularly if the humans in question had been possessed or in league with the demons in some fashion. The only reason he initially takes any interest in Annabelle is because he has decided to try to get to the root of the problem of the near constant demon attacks on the institution where she's confined, and in the course of investigating it he discovers that she seems to be the one that is drawing them there. He nearly leaves her there, but in the end decides to free her, an act of mercy that is the beginning of the thawing of his emotions. Over the course of the novel, he grows and evolves, becoming increasingly multi-faceted and complex, and yet at the same time his characterization remains a bit too stereotyped in some ways.

Overall, the story is OK, though much of it I found to be rather silly or simply annoying with its cliches and stereotypes. A large portion of it really only rates a 2 at most in my mind, though the relatively clever ending and several other points along the way redeemed it enough to push it close enough to a 3. Still probably only a 2.5 though really, or 2.75, but good enough that I'll likely give others in the series a chance then they're released, as well as the related Lords of the Underworld series.

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