Warrior by Kristina Douglas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I probably would have rated this higher if I hadn't been so strung out from sleep deprivation and just feeling so tired and worn out this past weekend. I feel bad about that, because that's the reason why I hoard my favorite authors' books for when I am in a good/receptive mood. Even with my beloved books, I can set the bar high and being moody can interfere with my reading experience. I guess it seems silly to qualify a four star rating. But Anne Stuart/Kristina Douglas is probably one of the authors I will have near my dying bedside, other than the Bible. That's how much I love her books. Anyhoo, let's get to the review.
I was looking forward to Michael's story because he seemed more light-hearted and jocular than the other Fallen. Lo and behold, he is a moody grump in his book. I can sort of get why. He's forced to get married for a prophecy to a woman who will die after he mates with her. He's chosen celibacy and the warrior life over sex, love and marriage (the Fallen variant). It's not that he didn't like sex. He gorged himself on it shortly after falling, and it was just empty for him after a while. He decided he likes his monastic warrior lifestyle better. Plus, he's repelled by the fact that Fallen are blood-eaters. Because of their curse for falling, they must ingest the blood of human women to sustain their lives. Fortunately, Michael can take just enough blood from the Source, the wife of the Alpha of the Fallen, to sustain his bodily needs. Other than that, he's not tempted in the least by women, neither for sex nor for blood. Until Victoria Bellona.
Now I thought the concept of Tory being a goddess was kind of weird. This story is based on Judeo-Christian legends of the fallen angels, although Douglas takes an extreme right turn with some of her theology. I can't say I love some aspects of that, which I have mentioned in my reviews of the first two books in this series. At any rate, throwing in the Roman pantheon just felt weird. She had a good explanation for it, and since it's her book, oh well. Having accepted who Tory was, I got over that, and just experienced her character. I liked Tory a lot. She's feisty and independent, especially considering the way she was raised. She could hold her own against Michael, and often kept him off balance. I loved seeing how she conquered her warrior angel with her personality and just being herself. He had no chance against her! I loved her silly names for him, like "Your Impeccable Angelic Magnificence." I mean, how does a stoic warrior angel confront that? He just has to give in.
While the world-building isn't award-winning (fairly basic), I love the interactions between the characters. How Douglas shows hate turn into love so well. She writes love scenes that evolve as the relationship between the characters evolves, which is the way it should be. You see these hardened heroes turn to slush before they even realize it. You smirk and say, "I knew it!", and enjoy the ride. I also love the description of the angels with their wings unfolded and their majestic beauty. I just love angels! Although Douglas is not a wordy writer, she conveys the heavenly beauty of even the fallen angels with words that say so much and paints such a vivid picture.
In the end, I didn't think much of the suspense elements. I don't care for the idea of Uriel being both the ruler of heaven and the big bad. Nor did I like the concept of Dark City and Beloch. But I did love the angelic romance on display. The interactions between the Michael and Tory, as well as catching up with the other Fallen make up for any world-building/suspense shortcomings. Had I been in a better mood, I would probably have been more forgiving. But four stars isn't bad at all.
Despite the things I don't like about this series, I do love the angels, the snarky heroines, and the romance, dark, although love always wins out, and I am excited for Rebel, because Cain looks to be a very bad boy indeed! Since I know who his love interest is, this should be very interesting!
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