More Mephisto!!! That’s all I can think right now. It is driving me bananas that I need to write this (and finish the appropriate page recap) before diving head first into the next installment. And, I just about squealed when I saw on goodreads that there is an expected 4th book! Yippeeeeee!
I adored the first book. I gushed about it. I re-read it right away because I didn’t want to leave the world that was built or the characters behind. I would probably do the same here but I have the next one to read instead. And I am so glad.
This series is set up much more akin to the way many adult PNR series are done. It is a book for each of the male protagonists and there is a girl and one saves the other/they save each other. So, if you are more of the twilight/shiver series type this will seem like they are companion books and not a series. However, the world is the same, the mythology guiding the over all story arc is expanded on and used the same, and there is an over all story arc – beating a bad guy.
The short version of the story: Key is the leader of the Mephisto (sons of Hell, because they are sons of the fallen angel Mephistopheles), a group of “young” men who were born from a fallen angel and are lost to Heaven. The Mephisto are responsible for battling Eryx, a brother of theirs, who has turned evil. He is lost to Heaven and Hell, however, and is looking for a way to take over Hell so he will belong somewhere. To do this, he creates lost souls and Skia who pledge themselves to him and reject God. The Mephisto take the lost souls and skia to hell on earth. Jordan, the US President’s daughter is kidnapped as part of Eryx’s plan to take over the US government but he discovers she is Anabo – a rare person born without original sin and one of the few who can love a son of Hell. The Mephisto rescue Jordan, who is meant for Key. The love story between Key and Jordan is what we watch.
The mythology stayed interesting and fresh. This is sort of an EOW scenario in that if the bad guy wins and he battles Lucifer, it will be very bad for all the humans. But we aren’t there (yet) so it’s a story about the group of guys battling one bad guy to keep him in line at the moment. There is definitely a Christian undertone but it is so nice that the characters can be religious and the author isn’t preaching or trying to convert readers to her particular brand of religion. You could be from any walk of life and appreciate that being good is a good thing and being bad isn’t – that’s what this really seems to feel like. The wonderful messages I see in this series: when you are good, you have a light that helps the world; when you are a good person, others like you for who you are; putting others first sometimes and being a good person will be good for everyone; loving someone unselfishly is the best feeling; and unconditional love means loving every part of a person, not just the parts you agree with or like. Those are messages that transcend the boundaries of organized modern religion and are commonalities that today, too many people don’t see across religions.
Now, before my review turns preachy…. We learn more about the mythology and the world we are living in. We get more back story of the characters. We get to see a fair amour of Jax and Sasha and the other guys. We get real emotion and reactions from characters. In short, we get so much great stuff from the author, it is a treat to read!
One of the signs to me that this was a wonderful book was when I hit a scene, and I knew what was coming, and I couldn’t bear to read it. I felt so invested in the characters, I felt so much for them and was rooting for our guy/gal coupling that I had to force myself to read through it. You might ask ‘how is that a good sign?’ It’s like when you are watching a move that you really love and there is a part that makes you cringe – you don’t want to watch or hear the dialogue because it will upset you – because you are so into it. When I have those moments watching, I turn the volume down or change the channel briefly. Best example for me, when watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Umbridge punishes Harry in her office, I am so frustrated and pissed off at her because of how invested in Harry I feel, that I can’t watch it happen. It’s a testament to how good the actors are because I can totally believe it happening and I can’t bear it. It’s similar with this book, I struggled to watch Eryx and Jordan’s conversation after the winter ball [spoiler ahead -highlight to read] and watch Eryx trick her into kissing him. It was a good thing that this was near the end of the book or I might have had a panic attack, waiting for it to be resolved!
It was wonderful to read a story that stayed true to its mythology without throwing in a twist that made me feel like the author didn’t know what to do so they took the easy way out. Here, we see resolution to the love story that is consistent with the characters and the mythology and it totally feels organic. It doesn’t feel like the cheap and easy way out. And yet we still get sufficient set up for the next book. This book is truly a work of beautiful art!
I will note that while the first installment was a little steamier than I had expected when I read that one, this one wasn’t steamy at all. There were discussions of sex and Jordan loosing her virginity, but we don’t have that happen here. It was also so very well done, how that played out, in the beginning where Jordan is with her boyfriend Matthew and later with Key. There were honest conversations, Jordan’s thoughts felt genuine and it was nice to see things handled so tastefully.
I will end with two small criticisms. I think there was one small hiccup with the mythology. What I remember from the first book, and what I wrote about it too, suggest that the first book presented the change to Mephisto as something that only occurred with sex. Even here, we are told that the mark is gotten through sex and once it’s gotten it is permanent if the Anabo is immortal. Jordan gets marked from kissing only, which explains [another spoiler ahead -highlight to read] why when she kisses Eryx his mark takes over, but we see Jordan’s birthmark change and her personality and abilities change as if she has been totally marked. So, there is a teeny tiny inconsistency there. But this is nothing to take away from the five stars I would give this book if I gave stars on this site! Second and only other criticism (which isn’t a criticism of the book itself or the author or writing: I think the author’s publisher is doing a dis-service to this series by not having better cover art. I still pick up a lot of books based on the fact that the cover art caught my attention. Especially when in book stores and looking for things other than e-books. But even on amazon and goodreads, if a cover catches my attention I am more likely to read it. I know that can be deceiving and can lead to being let down, but sometimes that is what I need to distinguish a future member of my “to read pile” from something I skip right over. And so here, I really wish that we had more striking cover art. I think there is potential for a graphic artist to do something wonderful. We are dealing with fallen angels after all. Archon for example has beautiful cover art with a crappy story behind it. Here, if there was better cover art, there might be more readers. Just my humble opinion, but I would love to see this entire series get a bump up in the quality of the cover art so that the cover is as striking and wonderful as the words behind it!