Reviewed: October 11, 2009
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Fallen Angels, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 474 Pages
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Kindle, Nook
As a rabid fan of Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) series in particular and with a deep respect (see also: worship) for Ward's writing style in general, I was very much looking forward to the new Fallen Angels series when I first heard of it. After finishing Covet, I'm in some ways utterly satisfied and in others vaguely discontented. It's a bit of a conundrum, really.
There are several strong, important things about Covet that I very much enjoyed. Ward's "voice" as an author is very distinct and appealing to me. Much like the "twelfth man" on the field, it's Ward's "voice" - that unique mix of phrasing, slang and idiom alike, as well as the tone and character of her stories - that sets BDB so far above the plethora of similar series on the market right now. If you were to hand me a random page from a Ward book, any page, any book, I could identify her work by style alone, it's that distinctive. And it works spectacularly in the BDB world. Maybe too well, because while a part of me...much like Pavlov's dog...salivates whenever I come in contact with it, I also kept expecting a Brother - or some other familiar aspect of the BDB world (i.e. vampires or lessers) - to pop out of Covet's woodwork (the Fallen Angels series exists in the same world that we're familiar with from BDB). Other than a couple of unnamed and/or brief cameos (blink-and-you-miss-them sorts), however, that didn't really happen. Yes, we'd been introduced to Trez and Maire-Therese in BDB, but the characters in Covet aren't aware of Trez's skills or identity beyond being club owner to the new Iron Mask, and that place wasn't hopping with drugs and Brothers like ZeroSum. That we saw, anyway. In that regard, Ward's voice was almost distracting at times. I kept expecting to see things that weren't intended to be there. I'm not criticizing that, really, as the fault is in the way my brain's wired, not in the author, but it is a factor in my feelings on Covet.
Now, as to what Covet actually contains story-wise, I had a more qualitative reaction. It's a deceptively sly (in a good way) and a bit more subtle a book than the BDB's, and as the first in a new series, there is a lot that's yet unexplained or clearly defined - and I like that to a point. I like not knowing quite yet what the scope of a series will be, when the book teases me enough to keep me interested...and Covet did. From what I understand, the Fallen Angel series isn't a traditional paranormal romance series a la BDB (though I would argue that BDB is in no way "traditional" either, but you know what I mean), and the plot of Covet is many-layered and ripe with sub-plots that aren't romantic. There is, however, a romance included therein, and I didn't think Vin and Marie-Therese were the best romantic coupling I've seen from Ward - not because of how they fit (they fit very well together) or who they are as individuals (though Marie-Therese is a teeny bit unoriginal a character as the hooker with a heart of...not gold, really, but still remarkably untainted in a lot of ways that didn't quite ring true to me) - but because they got together very quickly once they met and didn't have any significant internal struggles to triumph over, despite their varied and assorted damages, to get to their HEA - the conflict to their relationship was primarily external in the form of the mysterious...and deadly Devina. That being said, they weren't my least favorite pairing, either, and I liked them individually quite a lot, especially Vin. I thought his back story was solid and revealed in a nicely paced manner and his total about-face personality-wise when he met Marie-Therese was at times cute, sometimes amusing, and always endearing. I didn't feel Marie-Therese in quite the same way, but I did like her. I liked Jim a lot - not at first, but by halfway in he was growing on me - and I loved Adrian and Eddie. And I adored Dog. All in all, I think Ward has a genuine gift for writing believable, realistically flawed and courageous characters, especially men.
I will say that I don't think Covet is anywhere near as streamlined and tightly plotted as any of the BDB books, and the first twenty percent of the book was muddled and lacking clear purpose and direction. The characters weren't at all likable at that point, and there was almost a sense of desperation in all of them that I found off-putting. That may have been the point, though, as the book starts to pick up once Jim and Vin have some face time together, and by the end it races along nicely and the characters have solidified and manned up. There's a lot of story left to tell with this series, as Jim's mission has six souls left, and I'm very intrigued as to what's coming next. He has to win best out of seven...so does that mean there will be times he fails? That's a hell of an interesting concept for me and I look forward to seeing how this unfolds. One thing I know I can bank on, Ward will continue to develop these characters and flesh out the stories of Jim, Adrian, Eddie, and hopefully Dog. And it's going to be a hell...er...heaven?...of a hog ride.
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