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Thursday, January 7, 2010

'Covet: A novel of the Fallen Angels #1' by J.R. WARD


From the BLURB:

Redemption isn't a word Jim Heron knows much about-his specialty is revenge, and to him, sin is all relative. But everything changes when he becomes a fallen angel and is charge with saving the souls of seven people from the seven deadly sins. And failure is not an option. Vin DiPietro long ago sold his soul to his business, and he's good with that-until fate intervenes in the form of a tough- talking, Harley-riding, self-professed savior. But then he meets a woman who will make him question his destiny, his sanity, and his heart-and he has to work with a fallen angel to win her over and redeem his own soul.

I waited a while to read this one. I had to wait a couple weeks after the release date for Amazon to ship me my copy – and in that interim I read a *lot* of negative reviews. So, I was put off – and decided to wait a while before reading and reviewing.

Okay – so, truthfully it’s not good.

I think Ward’s biggest mistake lies in point of view. Jim Heron is apparently going to be this series’ main protagonist – and his mission from God is to guide potential sinners onto the path of righteousness (or something like that). The people he meets and tries to ‘save’ will act as secondary characters in the books – and in ‘Covet’ that secondary character is Vin diPietro. That’s all well and good – but it doesn’t really work in the first book of the series because Ward has devoted so much of the story to Vin. So it feels like Jim is actually the secondary character… and since he’s our leading man (the one character readers are supposed to be rooting for throughout the books) it doesn’t really work in the series debut that we don’t get much of a sense of who he is. I mean, is Vin even going to appear in subsequent novels?

I understand that Ward wouldn’t want to show all her cards up front – she wants Jim to retain an air of mystery, so she remains allusive about his work history, childhood etc - but as readers we really don’t get much sense of his personality. He doesn’t come across as particularly charismatic or memorable. Jim was just a little too flat for me. I wish Ward had imbued him with a wicked sense of humor or a weird hobby (i.e.: Vishous and his love of R&B/Rap music). He was so boring to me – and his background didn’t really match with his actions in the book. From what little information he reveals about himself, we know that Jim is a trained assassin. Yet when he is recruited for this Heaven VS. Hell ball game he just passively takes on the job. For a nanosecond he considers that he might be losing his marbles – but then he’s pretty quick to jump onboard the Savior-express. I just didn’t buy it.

And another thing – I hated Ward’s interpretation of Heaven (well, the outskirts at least). Four British dudes playing croquet? Seriously? I think the demons could win this whole Good/Bad ballgame just by telling peoples that’s what they had to look forward to – snobby angels and mallets.

Another thing I didn’t really like about this new series – the characters too closely resembled the ‘Brotherhood’ gang. I thought ‘Fallen Angels’ would have been J.R. Ward’s chance to step outside ‘Blackdagger’ and stretch her literary wings; shake things up and play around with new characters and storylines. But the male protagonists so closely resemble the Brothers – right down to the lingo. Even though Vin is human he refers to Marie-Terese as ‘his woman’ – that is *such* a vampire expression! Vin may be an Italian stallion, but c’mon! And I don’t know if it’s because ‘Lover Avenged’ was the last ‘Brotherhood’ book I read (and freshest in my mind) but Vin came across as a Rehvenge cardboard cut-out. He was all Alpha male toughness on the outside, marshmallow on the inside. Vin & Marie-Terese had a relationship that reminded me of Ehlena & Rehv. Except instead of Ehlena having to accept Rehv’s dubious past exploits, it was Vin coming to terms with Marie-Terese’s prostitution. Really the only difference was that I actually liked the Ehlena/Rehv pairing. With Vin and Marie-Terese, Ward has chosen a romance route I *despise* - the two lock eyes across a crowded room and feel a certain ‘pull’ to one another. Cue dry heaving.

I didn’t like Marie-Terese (even her hyphenated name pissed me off). I wasn’t too keen on having a prostitute as a character’s HEA, but then I thought maybe J.R. Ward would do interesting things with her character – tell a story of a strong female who wasn’t ashamed of her red-light profession, or a sob story about being sold into prostitution? Nope. Marie-Terese’s ‘sob story’ is pretty convoluted and has plenty of holes. Turns out prostitution wasn’t really her last resort, just the most convenient money-making option. I might have been sympathetic to M-T’s plight, but she was so self-pitying and ‘woe is me’ – I could have had more patience for her if she had been a strong female who wasn’t mortified by her profession (à la Belle in ‘Secret Diary of a Call Girl’), or if she was actively looking for a way out.
I also could have mustered up more sympathy for M-T’s hooking if J.R. Ward had written more of her home life. The whole reason M-T is in the job is to provide for her seven-year-old son, Robbie. But we get only a handful of very brief scenes with her and Robbie, so there’s no sense of family and maternal devotion – in fact, Robbie reminded me a little of Haley Joel Osment in ‘Artificial Intelligence: A.I’ (2001) – and by that I mean the kid was creepy as all get out.
The only thing I appreciated about Marie-Terese is that she appears in the ‘Fallen Angels’ series, and not the ‘Blackdagger Brotherhood’ – which means she hasn’t ended up being Shellan to one of my beloved Brother’s (if she’d been Qhuinn’s HEA for example, I would have been shattered!).

Even though ‘Covet’ is the first book in the ‘Fallen Angels’ series – there aren’t actually that many fallen angels in a good chunk of the book. They kind of pop in at random toward the end and are never really fleshed out – even though they’re supposedly going to be permanent characters.
I did like the demon villain in ‘Covet’ – she is a mean b*tch. I think I liked her so much because her evil under-handed tactics were pretty much just female head-fucks and it was kind of funny to see how easily she put one over on all the men.

One positive about this book is that Trez (of ‘Trez & iAm’ fame in the ‘Blackdagger’ books) makes a big cameo. I love Trez & iAm. They’re so mysterious and sexy. Reading Trez in ‘Covet’ makes me really hope that he and his brother get their own books and/or storylines in the ‘Blackdagger’ series.

So, to recap, I am glad the Warden relegated Marie-Terese to the ‘Fallen Angels’ series and left her out of BDB (one Brother clearly dodged a bullet). That was pretty much the only silver lining I got out of ‘Covet’. Well, that and Trez. Trez was cool.

I kind of resent the fact that J.R. Ward has set the ‘Fallen Angels’ books in the same universe as the ‘Blackdagger Brotherhood’. There is clearly going to be crossovers – and I feel like it’s a mean ploy to ensure fans of BDB read this new series.
But, having said that, I have an inkling that the second book, ‘Crave’ will be an improvement over ‘Covet’.
I personally didn’t like ‘Dark Lover’. I thought it was kind of boring, and there were a lot of characters to keep track of. I thought that both Beth and Wrath were boring characters and I wasn’t looking forward to continuing the series. But I am so glad I did! Maybe J.R. Ward is just one of those authors who has a shaky start?

So, even waiting months to let the bad reviews settle didn’t change my opinion of ‘Covet’. I will continue with this series, but only because I feel that as a BDB fan I kind of have to – lest I miss out on big crossover plot developments (or more Trez cameos. I really like Trez).

2/5

5 comments:

  1. i LOVED zsadist's book and i was eagerly anticipating butch's. alas, butch's book (i didn't even read the whole thing) wasn't like zsadist's. i tried picking up after butch but i couldn't keep up with the gazillion characters, the language felt silly to me & it's too urban & not enough romance. i gave up on the brotherhood series. it sounds like the fallen angel series is going to be like the brotherhood series... i think i'll skip this one too. thanks for the review!

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  2. I so loved your review and I totally agree with it... you had me LMAO =)

    amen to M-T not being a shellan LOL

    I agree, I will give a chance to this series just because Im such a BDB fan =)

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  3. "I am glad the Warden relegated Marie-Terese to the ‘Fallen Angels’ series and left her out of BDB (one Brother clearly dodged a bullet)" Best quote I've heard about this book evah! It was a DNF for me - I didn't care for either of the main characters and decided if I had to make myself read it then it wasn't the book for me. I think I read less than half of the book.

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  4. See - I thought Jim was the only interesting character in it - because like you said, everyone else is very reminiscent of the BDB world. But Jim is different..(to me)

    M--------T pissed me off. Vin was stupid. I liked the angels but I wanted more of the too.

    Snort @ your heaven comment :)

    AND - are the good guys really going to LOSE three times, so there is room for a seventh book?? What up with that.

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