Demon Angel by Meljean Brook
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I put off reading this book for years. Let's just say, when I thought the heroine was the Lilith (of Biblical infamy), I wasn't sure I could wrap my mind around her being a heroine in a romance novel. Well, I'm glad that I finally did read this book. It was a very good story. And, by the way, she isn't that Lilith.
I think Ms. Brook did a great job of writing this story about a love affair over eight hundred years in the making. Two people who should have been mortal enemies, who ended up falling in love and finding their soulmates in each other. The die-hard romantic in me couldn't help but be enthralled with this concept. And that pull between Lilith and Hugh kept me reading, although this is a story that requires the ability to wait for delayed gratification. That, in itself is not a bad thing. Instead, it was appealing to see the back and forth between Hugh and Lilith through the years. Watching their verbal foreplay, and the fact that although they often went head to head as opponents on opposite sides of a war, but didn't treat each other as the mortal adversaries that they were.
This is a very character-driven book. The good thing about it, is the character are very interesting. Although Lilith is correctly thought of as a 'bad girl,' she has aspects that show that she really isn't all bad. In contrast, Hugh is definitely the white knight type of character. But he has some gray areas too. I loved that they were each other's weaknesses. Hugh was a very chaste, righteous man, but Lilith was the one woman who had the power to utterly seduce him, and he had to work hard not to show it. Hugh made Lilith want to defy her father, Lucifer, even though it was a great personal cost to her. Ms. Brook did such a great job at laying the groundwork for this great love story, and the execution was very good.
Now, this is one of those books that I had trouble rating. The reason why is, well it's a very good book. However, it had a tendency to be quite slow-moving. It was character-driven, which is good, but I think the action sequences needed to be more vivid. There was great potential for rip-roaring, intense battle sequences, and that didn't come to fruition. I think there needed to be more showing and not telling in that arena. Since this is the first full book in the series, I suspect that the further books have expanded in this area, because this story has all kinds of potential. Another issue I had, was sometimes I got lost with some of the aspects of the worldbuilding. I didn't always get what the objective was of everything, with the nosferatu, and the inscribing of symbols, and the drinking of blood with the murders of Hugh's students. I will probably need to reread this book to gain a better understanding of all that.
On the positive, I was really impressed with this story: the guardians versus the demons. The eternal struggle between the forces of light and dark. The worldbuilding had a uniqueness that spoke to me. The scenes describing Hell sent shivers down my spine. I loved Sir Pup, Lilith's pet hellhound. I thought it was awesome how the guardians, nosferatu, and demons could store weapons and other items (even bodies and evidence) in what's called a 'cache,' which I interpreted to be a psychic storage area. That was very cool. What made me uneasy was the parts where Lilith called Lucifer father, and talked about obeying and serving him. I'm a devout Christian, which means he's the bad guy to me, so it was just really odd to have the main character in allegiance to him. But, I liked the interesting dynamic of it all; after all, Lilith knew she was playing for the wrong team.
The best thing about this story was the love story. Hugh and Lilith were made for each other. They had sizzling chemistry that made the slow-moving story worthwhile for staying tuned into. I really wanted things to work out for them. I loved all the love scenes, because they were sizzling hot, and the passion between them really burned. You definitely got the feeling that this was a fire that had been stoking for almost a millenium. Hugh is a sigh-worthy hero. I loved that he was such a good guy, a virgin, with strong principles. Yet, he was not a supercilious, self-righteous plaster saint. He was very much a man, with a man's flaws. He was determined to save Lilith, even when she didn't seem to want saving. He was even willing to sacrifice himself to do so. And Lilith was a great character. I love a complex heroine. She's dark, but has a strong sense of doing what is right to her. She put herself in jeopardy several times, out of love for Hugh, and didn't take the many opportunities she had to destroy him, and make a mockery of his principles. I liked her, and I wanted her to get her man, and for things to work out for her. Because of their strong bond, that made them both stronger and complete as people, and a powerful unit together, I was seriously rooting for their happy ending. And I liked how Ms. Brook pulled it off.
Demon Angel is a book that I was pleasantly surprised with. It has a fresh spin on the ancient battle between heaven and hell. It gave me something to ponder, but I didn't feel like I was compromising my personal beliefs in reading this book. The love story was rich and involving. I definitely want to continue this series, and see how this war between the Guardians, the nosferatu, and the demons unfolds.
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