Before I jump into my review, I wanted to say how much I really love this cover. I have a paper copy and the detail down to the gold sparkling through the angel’s feather wings is superb. And well the angel and his lady? More than superb.
Okay, on to my review! I have been salivating for Zacharel’s story or at least more pieces of his story since he appeared in Amun’s LOU story. I was pleased as punch when this spin-off series was announced so it almost goes without saying that I was getting this book.
Speaking of the Lords of the Underworld (LOU) series, its not absolutely necessary that it is read first, but personally I recommend it since there are references to the Lords, the war with the Titans and the there are brief crossover appearances of several characters from the other series written in such a way that there is an assumption that the other series was read first. Wicked Nights does act as an introductory book in which the author narrows down her world building to focus specifically on the goings on of angels and demons.
In this first book, the story is introduced by the plight of a human woman who has been exposed to a powerful demon. The demon slaughters her parents, covers her in his gooey residue and leaves her to be blamed for a double murder and incarcerated as a criminally insane patient. The story then flips to Zacharel who has disappointed his superiors once too often with his cold-hearted disdain to avoid the collateral damage of taking human life when in the pursuit of demons. He has been given his last chance warning with a near impossible assignment. Zacharel will now lead an independent army of misfit angels who are all on their last chance and have similar if not worse issues to his own. His fate is tied to theirs and theirs to him and each other based on how well they do in their missions.
Zacharel’s leadership gets challenged at every turn and he is punished for the other’s mistakes. Now they are on yet another mission to take out the demons that are surrounding some human correction agency which is a location they have returned to time and again to do this very thing. He is mystified by the demon’s behavior and decides that this time he will nose out what they’re up to.
Annabelle has been in the institution for 4 long years. They have been hard years of misery, drugs, and abuse, but that’s just what she receives from her human guards. Ever since the night that her parents were killed, she has been able to see monsters like the one that killed her parents and she is the only one who can see them. Not only do they come to the facility, they come to attack her. Annabelle has gotten to be quite a fighter as a result. She fights the human tyranny too. On the night when her perverted caseworker comes to do things to her while she is strapped down and helpless, she is finally given a glimmer of hope.
But release from one prison by the hand of the cold emotionless angel who comes to find her fighting off a demon and then her caseworker is only the beginning. It is Zacharel’s beginning too. The adventure these two share is pretty exciting stuff so I’ll avoid the spoiler details.
The plot was handled so well I thought. So many details need to be given because its an intro to a new series, but I enjoyed how the information was spread out and not just dumped in huge lumps. There is a lot of action and the romantic tension is well paced. It kept me on the edge hoping for the two to come together even while it took quite a while in coming. It needed to be that way because of the past experiences of the hero and heroine. The setbacks are even expected in a way. Waiting for their romance to take flight was so worth it in the long run.
Not only is the romance handled well, the intriguing story behind Annabelle’s situation and the demonic activity was fascinating. I had my suspicions and I was right, but truthfully knowing the who and the why didn’t change the fact that the ending climactic scene was a real page-turner to the very last. This writer excels at boxing her characters into a corner and making me figuratively bite my nails in suspense until she reveals the answer.
The characters were so awesome. The depth to them was just above and beyond. These were two very hurting souls who hadn’t caught a break in life. When I discovered that this new spin-off series would feature Zacharel’s story, I was terribly curious who would be his heroine and what her story would be to match up with such a strong and powerfully intimidating angel. He is thousands of years old, but Annabelle’s years of pain and his years of feeling nothing act as a great leveler in their experience. These two work so well together because they are written in such a way as to show they are two parts to a whole and responsible for the healing they both do during the book.
The new angels in this one are all equally flawed as Zacharel or Winged Wonder as Anna calls him. Several of them get quite a bit of face time in this book with brief sketches of their trouble. I look forward to getting each and everyone of their stories.
And yes, for those who are Lords of the Underworld fans, several Lords, a few female characters and Lysander reprise their roles and flit in and out of the story a few times. I loved these crossover scenes
Great start to this new series and I heartily recommend it to paranormal romance fans.