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Monday, October 15, 2012

'Rapture' A Novel of the Fallen Angels #4 by J.R. Ward

 Received from the Publisher 

From the BLURB:

Mels Carmichael, reporter for the Caldwell Courier Journal, gets the shock of her life when a man stumbles in front of her car outside the local cemetery. After the accident, his amnesia is just the kind of mystery she likes to solve, but she soon discovers they're over their heads with his past. Over their heads with passion, too...

As shadows walk the line between reality and another realm and her lover's memory begins to come back, the two of them learn that nothing is truly dead and buried. Especially when you're trapped in a no-holds-barred war between angels and demons. With a soul on the line and Mels' heart at risk, what in heaven - or in hell - will it take to save them both?
** This review contains spoilers of all previous books in the ‘Fallen Angels’ series **

The odds are in their favour, but Jim Heron and his last remaining angelic aid, Adrian, are still fighting hard in the war against Good and Evil.

This time the soul in question belongs to Jim’s old XOps boss, the pathologically cruel Matthias who was a previously lost cause.

Matthias is back from hell and upon his return he’s involved in a car accident with Caldwell Courier journalist Mels Carmichael. Mels can’t forget about the John Doe she hit with her car and when the limping, scarred man admits to her that he has amnesia, he also asks for her help in finding who he is. Mels finds that she cannot refuse him, and it’s not just her guilty conscience pushing her to stay close to Matthias . . .

Meanwhile, evil beauty Devina is still rampaging mad that Jim duped her in the last souls round, and her payback will involve poking at the open-wound that is Jim’s little lost, virginal soul, Sissy. . .

‘Rapture’ is the fourth book in J.R. Ward’s ‘Fallen Angels’ series.

I swear, this fourth book in the ‘Fallen Angels’ series feels like a giant step back . . . which is such a shame after the four-star glory of third book, ‘Envy’. I have not been an easy fan of this series, but I will admit that the books had been getting progressively better from the lacklustre two-star first book ‘Covet’, each new book gaining a one-star improvement. But here we are with ‘Rapture’ and we’re backtracking. It was a mixture of slow plot, a too quick romance and the Warden yet again dragging her pen on the slow-as-molasses developing plot of Sissy and Jim that really put me off this book.

First of all, it felt like the Warden was not-so-subtly reminding fans of the ‘Fallen Angels’ timeline throughout this book. I marked the four odd times that characters alluded to the series timeline – from ‘Covet’ through to ‘Rapture’ – revealing that there has been only a span of about two weeks. A couple of weeks. That’s it. The Warden mentions it when Mels and Matthias investigate the electrocution/shooting death of Jim Heron – the fact that he has been dead for a little over two weeks. Now, I think part of the reason that the Warden made it a point to put a mark on the ‘Fallen Angels’ timeline is to reveal the real urgency in the Heaven vs Hell competition. This urgency is actually part of the reason I have never really enjoyed the romances in the ‘Fallen Angels’ series – because they are very quick; Jim and Devina are fighting tooth and nail for these lost souls, and that urgency translates to all of the romances in which the men need the love of a good woman to save their soul.

Luckily the Warden has shied away from out-right ‘love at first sight’ clichés, but it has been a close thing. With Matthias and Mels, for example, he feels a stirring for her when she comes to visit him in hospital – but it’s more seeing her head-strong journalist self that really turns him on. But, all in all, the quick-fire romances have never really worked for me and that’s again true with Matthias and Mels. Never mind that following the same tropes in every single book is growing a wee bit old – lost guy’s soul needs to find his one true love to get a win for heaven. Slight yawn. Bigger yawn in ‘Rapture’ because Matthias and Mels’s physical relationship has strong echoes of Rehvenge and Ehlena’s romance in ‘Lover Avenged’ – particularly because battle wounds have made Matthias impotent (and where Rehv was a bad-ass nightclub owner/drug dealer, Matthias was a bad-ass XOps leader). The scene in which Matthias and Mels find ways around sex without penetration read like déjà-vu for the same exchange in ‘Lover Avenged’.

Jim cleared his throat. Twice. “Ah, you’re back because we need you to make the right choice this time.”
“Choice?”
“At the crossroads.” Jim prayed he was going to make some sense. “You’re, ah, you’re going to come to a moment where you need to choose, and if you don’t want to go back where you were, you have to pick the righteous path, not . . .  what you’re used to.”
“So it’s true? About Heaven and Hell?”
“And you’ve got a second chance.”
“Why?”
“The devil cheats.”

Part of the reason I’m actually really impatient for Sissy to hurry the heck up and get a bigger role in this series is because I like the build-up for her and Heron. Whereas all the other romance focuses in the series have followed the lost soul’s romances, and have been very quick developments, Jim and Sissy’s potential romance is the only one that has roots going back to book one and a bit of history behind it. But we’re in book four now, and Jim’s occasional slip-ups of “his girl, Sissy” are quickly becoming not quite enough to keep me on the hooks with this romance. And I’m also becoming concerned that the Warden is writing Sissy into a Mary-Sue type of role, a girl who can do no wrong who, we are always reminded, was a beautiful blonde-virgin-smart girl before Devina killed her. Jim is building her up waaaaaay too much, and as a result Jim’s holier-than-thou thoughts of her are off-putting to the reader. It may have helped if the Warden had given us the occasional POV chapters from Sissy? – yes, she is stuck in a wall of souls, but maybe if we were there with her, experiencing the horror or reading how she’s keeping herself psychologically strong, then we’d be a bit more sympathetic towards her. As it is? I really feel like ‘Rapture’ should have been the book in which Sissy steps into the spotlight, because as of this book the romance I was looking forward to is rapidly losing my interest and patience.

Another reason I think the Warden mentioned the two-week timeline is to remind us that it wasn’t all that long ago that Jim Heron was getting down and dirty with Devina in ‘Covet’ . . . because there is quite a big focus in this book, on Devina’s growing infatuation with Jim. Actually, there’s also a growing focus on Devina as a multifaceted villain, complete with OCD quirks and job pressures. I’m not so sure how I feel about this; on the one hand, I always love a bad guy with shades of grey. But on the other hand, I have been enjoying Devina’s truly heinous self . . . and I’m not entirely certain that the Warden won’t continue to give Devina more emotional depth, and possibly push her towards Jim. I really, really hope not. Because that’s creepy. Although, I think it may help to throw a spanner in the Sissy/Jim romance if Devina is in a viable love triangle with them – and I'd be interested to see how it plays out, if Jim (the veritable balance in this whole game) has to choose between the evil Devina, and the innocent Sissy.

All in all, I think this series is going a little wonky. We’re four books in now, and Sissy is still being alluded to as the ultimate Mary-Sue, we’ve been reading the same guy-needs-true-love-to-make-a-win-for-heaven storyline and Devina has only just started to become more multifaceted. *Sigh*. I’m struggling with this series, I really am.

2/5

8 comments:

  1. Gosh I am so disappointed with this. I stopped like at 40% because it was so slow! I couldn't care less about Carmichael, I wish she just introduced someone else. / Braine

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    1. I think for lots of people this 4th book was 'do or die', the big decider for if people would keep on reading in what has been an epically so-so series. I don't think the Warden managed to convince any fence-sitters to stick with it.

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  2. What a shame, but a great honest review. I have heard a lot about Ward but am yet to read anything so far

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    1. I think she is great, but like with any author cannot produce all winning books...

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  3. I think it would be interesting if either Sissy comes out of the wall completely bat-shit crazy or proves to be not as mary-sue like as everybody in her life (Jim included) thought, but we all know that's unlikely... And, come on, we need a girl's soul to be saved next.

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    1. Oh, if Sissy comes out perfectly fine (and all 'Mary-Sue') I will be annoyed. That won't be interesting or believable. But it is high-time she came out of that dang wall already!

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  4. I was pretty disturbed and creeped out over Jim and Devina's sexual relationship in this book. I still cannot understand why he did it with her - twice! Was that plot necessary? It just ruined the whole thing for me.

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    1. Me too!!!! I hope that when Sissy hurries up and comes out of that wall she grills Jim about that (since she saw it happen!)

      It was a very disturbing moment - even more so because Devina seems to really love (*gag*) Jim now. It was crazines. I don't know if the Warden has quite explained that one yet...

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