Review: Burning Dawn by Gena Showalter

Review: Burning Dawn by Gena ShowalterBurning Dawn by Gena Showalter

Series: #3 Angels of the Dark
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Published by Harlequin on April 29, 2014
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
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four-stars  

The continuing story of the dark angel, Thane, offers an opposites attract romance paranormal-style.  There is a range of tone, strong character development and engaging ongoing story of the misfit group of warrior angels and their battle against demons with earth in the middle.  I enjoyed the story as I always do when it comes to this author’s writing, but I was left wanting more too.

This book could be read as a standalone in a pinch, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  The overall story line about the group of last chance angels and Thane’s story in particular both begin with the first book and continue through to this one.

With that in mind, the story opens with Thane being kept as a mindless sex slave by Kendra who used her phoenix poison to entrap him so that he forgets everything including his name and former life all in her act of vengeance because he dumped her out of his bed and back with her people.  Another slave, Elin, is a half-breed who is reviled by the others and she can only look forward to being treated as less than a dog and abusively used for the rest of her life.  In the big warrior Sent One, she sees her chance.  The plan works only too well.  Thane remembers, he decimates the camp and takes the phoenix prisoners to daily torture them.  Elin is brought along to keep her safe from being recaptured by other phoenix.  She will work in Thane’s club up in the clouds, save her money and head back to the human world to continue her husband’s dream of running a bakery and honor his memory by living out her life in loneliness.

Thane will exact his revenge against Kendra and the others for what she did to him, he will continue his duties as the second in command to Zacharel in the hunt for the demons who assassinated their leader, he will deal with his darker sado-masochistic nature by taking a new woman each night, he will support similar dark struggles by his two closest friends, but what he will not do is give in to the strong attraction he feels for the human female he rescued at the camp.  Only that promise to himself is tough to keep when seeing her working his bar and interacting with the male customers and seeing the way she holds him at arm’s length because she is still in love with her dead husband and has survivor’s guilt makes him crazy.  And for all her timidity toward blood and violence, Elin has a sassy tongue and a strong backbone.  She makes him question his ways and tears through the pain in him to make him feel hope for something else that only she could bring if she would let him in.

Thane has learned disturbing things about his friend, Bjorn, and sets in motion the plan to rescue him from his horrifying entrapment.  Elin is now terrified that Thane will discover her mixed ancestry and is conflicted about her desires for the messed up male.  Things do come to a head and some pay the ultimate sacrifice as the dark demonic forces are pushing forward with their end game.  It will take all the warriors of the Seventh Group under Zacharel to fight, but in the end Elin must find her courage and strength and Thane must let go of his past.

The general storyline on this was exciting, spunky and passionate.  It elicited and engaged most of my emotions with its blend of dark and light.  Loved that it brings back the band of angel warriors particularly Thane and his best buds Xerxes and Bjorn as well as the lively cast of the workers at Thane’s club.  And yes, we do have a few Lords sightings.  It delves deeper into Thane’s life and being right there with him was just as good as I expected it would be from the moment he was introduced and I wanted his story.  This guy was seriously messed up and he had a long way to go to heal.  He was angry and needed revenge.  He needed an outlet for the dark anger thus the bedchamber of tortures.  His sense of duty to his friends and fellow warriors was all that was keeping him this side of becoming a fallen.  All that changes with the arrival of Elin.  She was a ray of sunshine and hope in his life.  Not that he made an instant about face and all.  He had some ugliness to work out, but he did it with her help.   The action scenes against the demons and vengeful phoenix were all good too.  They are a side line to Thane’s personal struggles and the romance, but they are nicely sprinkled throughout the story.  But I was only slightly into Elin, the heroine.

I just could barely work up a liking for her.  I hated that she had to go through all that she did and I respect the fact that stuff like that will traumatize a person which is exactly what the problem was.  I wasn’t convinced that she was really broken by that stuff though I kept getting told that she was.  Her issues didn’t ring true for me.  She didn’t come across as traumatized as much as a ditz.  Like the freakouts over blood left me rolling my eyes and the hot and cold treatment with Thane made me lose respect fast.  I know this last bit is sort of ironic since that is exactly what Thane did to all his women, but the fundamental difference is that they knew the score whereas with little miss wishy-washy it was always a crapshoot if even she knew what she was doing.  She couldn’t be honest with herself or with Thane.  She repeatedly hurt him, but had the attitude that it was okay because he was a manwhore that hurt people still not seeing that those others volunteered to be used and to use Thane while Thane wanted something more with her and said so.  It’s always tough for me to picture these ancient warrior angels with a person of human age, but I really couldn’t buy that someone who went through what Thane did could see Elin as more than a passing amusement particularly the way she was acting.

Now usually, I don’t notice the tone of the story so much other than to admire when it’s really well done, but there was an imbalance so that it stuck out for me.  One of the strong traits in the author’s books is the humor which I know is tricky to get just right.  The witty dialogue and mental thoughts have me laughing and wishing I could be that snappy.  However, in this particular story, it didn’t work as much for me.  Lesser would have been better.  This is a darker story because of the characters’ pasts and they are messed up and broken to start and by helping each other they start to heal and grow happy.  This is visible to me as the reader, but then the tone is distorted by the addition of the quirks and snark that is nearly a running commentary between Elin’s words and thoughts.  Because of this, her character took a hit.  She comes across as insensitive, shallow and selfish.  Thane has the right balance of dark and occasional wit.  I won’t deny that I laughed and was amused, but I was also disappointed to not get the depth that the story promised.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and I will most definitely be continuing with the series.  While I couldn’t overlook what bugged me, it didn’t make me want to quit reading either.  All the strong points balanced it out for me.  I love the angel brotherhood, their individual redemption stories that involve their special soul mate to heal them and the blend of passion and humor.  Lovers of paranormal romance should try these books.

About Gena Showalter

Gena Showalter is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author whose books have appeared in Cosmopolitan and Seventeen magazines, as well as Entertainment Weekly. Her novel Red Handed has been optioned by Sony Television. Critics have called her books “sizzling page-turners” and “utterly spellbinding stories,” while Showalter herself has been called “a star on the rise.” Her mix of humor, danger and wickedly hot sex provides wildly sensual page-turners sure to enthrall.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • I like the sound of this and the series and I can even overlook the heroine. But sex slave? Is this like Styxx or Acheron?

    • I’m not sure since I haven’t read those. It lasted all of 3 pages and didn’t really detail out before he got free with the heroine’s help and destroyed the camp.

  • Not looking, not looking, not looking–okay looking a little but not a lot–because I’ve got it on my review docket. ::snort:: I really enjoyed the first book in this series but missed book two. So hard keeping up with all the series I wanna read. Glad you enjoyed it Sophia 🙂

    • Haha! I do that too when I have a book up for review. I so want to see what you all think, but I have to wait before I can read the details of the review. You shouldn’t be lost if you jump into this one after book one, but it would be even better if you snagged two first since there’s a Thane storyline there that explains how he gets into the predicament he’s in at the beginning of this one.

      • Yes exactly! lol It’s a tiny spot of torture. heh.

        Good to know. I don’t think I ever picked book two up. Sometimes I auto buy so at least they’re around but I think I really did miss that one entirely. smh. Ahhh the horrors…a trip to the bookstore might just be in order 😀

        • I know how that happens. There are so many books that catch the eye that sometimes one gets lost in the rush.

          And oh the horror of a bookstore trip indeed. Haha!

  • love G. Showalter, but I haven’t read this series as of yet. I think I have the first book….not sure though, lols. Gotta look thru my NOOk and see. always liked her balance of humor in her stories, but her females and males can be a little hard to like at times. Great review Sophia