1: Wicked Nights

Main Characters:

Annabelle Miller – accused of killing her parents and sent to a mental institution for the criminally insane, she really sees demons.  Because apparently, she is a demon consort.

Zacharel – we met him briefly in Darkest Secret.  He has been tasked with leading an army of disgraced angels and trying to teach them the error of their ways.

Thane – Zacharel’s second in command.  He, Xerxes and Bjorn were tortured in Hell by demons and now are sort of a 3 musketeers kinda group.

Koldo – an angel who had his wings ripped off while young, too young for them to regenerate.

Axel – another of the band of disgraced angels.

Unforgiveness – the Demon who murdered Annabelle’s parents and who had claimed Annabelle.

Jamila – one  of the female angels in Zachrel’s army.

Locations: Colorado, the Heavens

Main Premise: Zach is given a year to reform his band of angels. The upcoming war between the titans and Greek gods and the Diety will require the services of all. Zach is out in charge but he is very unfeelingmet is repeaditly punished for killing humans and not valuing why humans are important. So he is punished any time he or one of his army kills a human, even if it iI done to kill a demon. He is summoned to a mental hospital where there is a lot of demon activity. That is where he meets Annabelle. Annabelle is there because she was convicted of killing her parents, even though it was a demon who did it. The entire time in the institution, she is tortured by other demons and a bunch of evil and perverted staff. But she fights back and is rescued by Zach. Over time, she and Zach fall in love. Zach reveals that he killed his brother and why. Koldo ends up in a position to have to save Zacharel and he does so, on the condition that Annabelle keep Zach from the heavens for 30 day.  Turns out he needs that time to find the angel who cut his wings off, even though everyone thinks a demon cut his wings off. 

A few battles later, we learn that the demon who took Annabelle as consort is actually Zach’s dead brother (and it was her brother who in a drug induced haze summoned the demon in the first place).   And when given the choice by the Diety to save one, but not both, Zach chooses Annabelle.  So Unforgiveness is killed and the rest get away.

Other Important Things to remember for Later:  Koldo’s angel, the ones who cut his wings off, is his mother.  Jamila was captured by Unforgiveness but was rescued.  Unforgiveness is gone. Zach was promoted to status of Elite but is still in charge of his army of misfits. He has a year to turn them all around. Annabelle is bound to Zach for his lifespan and has Zach’s brother’s love inside her too. 

Review:

I nearly squealed like a fan girl when I realized that Wicked Nights is the first in a series which is a spinoff from the Lords of the Underworld!   I have loved the Lords since picking up the first book.  Getting an opportunity to continue to read about them and their world is awesome.  And Ms. Showalter doesn’t disappoint with the first installment in this in the spinoff.

Wicked Nights is not about demons, but angels.  I guess that’s why this is a spinoff – after all, after all those demon possessed how could we continue a series shifting to be about angels?  Well, in my mind it’s easy.  But, I guess that publishers know what they are doing (although I almost missed this one, since I haven’t been able to get into Ms. Showalter’s other series and had I not caught a blurb on goodreads, I might have skipped this.  I personally think they should be linked better….)

The series has been set up so that these angles are part of the same world as the Lords, and the battle that is going on between the greek gods and the titans also has implications to the “Diety” – the “modern religion’s” version of god.  The angels are going to assist in the upcoming battle between all the godly like beings.

Not breaking from the formula, here we meet a central pair who are destined to fall in love: Annabel and Zacharel.   Annabelle was convicted of murdering her parents and sent to live in a mental institution for the criminally insane.  The problem?  She didn’t do it.  We are introduced in the prologue to what will turn out to be a demon and the big bad guy in the story but we don’t really know much about him until much much later on.  Turns out this interaction lead to Annabelle unknowingly becoming the demon’s consort.  So, when she is rescued by Zach and his band of dysfunctional misfit angels it is clear that she has been targeted and is fighting constantly to maintain her sanity and save her life.

Annabelle ends up with Zack around and they get to spend time together and like all books in this genre it’s not really a spoiler to say they fall in love and figure out a way to be together.  I will note however that this book did have a handful of interesting twists and turns that while not all of them were entirely shocking many were definitely unexpected.   How the demon was summoned, how the demons ended up in Annabelle’s life, and even who the demon turned out to be are all wonderful little twists that weren’t as predictable as many of the things that happen in this genre repeatedly.  We are also introduced to an entire new band of folks whom I expect books will be dedicated to overtime thereby extending the life of the series.

Of course, let us not forget that it was an excellent and awesome surprise to see a handful of the Lords on more than one occasion make appearances here in this book.  I only hope that that continues.  I liken this series (at least in potential) to Laryssa Ione’s Demonica and Riders of the Apocalypse series – they really are not so much an original and spinoff as much as an extension of a good series that takes a slightly different direction at some point to focus on a new set of characters.  It would be wonderful to see this series take after the Demonica – because the Riders don’t leave the Underworld General staff off in some corner.  Instead, we get to see quite a bit of them in that spinoff.  **Fingers crossed** I so hope the same happens here.

I will say, in what was a surprising move however was the softening of all of the steaminess versus the Lords books.  Don’t get me wrong there were some lovely moments but they were sweet and tender and less steam and that’s not something this genre embraces as easily as the very very steamy scenes.  It’s understandable, especially once you have the history of our handsome angel leader you understand why things take this type of stance.  And, this books also seems to have the characters build a much more solid foundation in a relationship leading up to these two falling in love then is typical.  It’s not unwelcome, just a little different than most of the PNR pace.  It does not all seem to be based on just a bunch of good looks and some good sex – there is a much more well developed relationship by these characters then I’ve seen recently in books of this type.

Annabelle is also a unique heroine in this type of book in that she is far from helpless.  She may be in a mental institution but she stands up for herself, she fights back and she doesn’t take crap from anyone.  She is not the typical damsel in distress who is useless on their own that we see in so many books like this one.  She also doesn’t instantly fall for his good looks and doesn’t let that completely change who she is or her personality.  She also isn’t the super-butch female who blends in with the guys so much that she struggles with getting people to remember she isn’t just one of the boys (seems that most of the females in these books fit the damsel in distress stereotype or the disguised as one of the boys stereotype).  Instead, she is very much a female who is just tough and she is much easier to respect as a result.   It’s refreshing to see an arrogant egotistical male learn his place in a relationship and allow the heroin to still have her freedom and her independence and to look at the future books knowing that the two of them will very much fight side-by-side and it’s not just him playing lips service.  Anyone who has read more then a book or two in this genre knows that always comes back in later books to be an issue.

I am so looking forward to the next book to see what happens to these great warrior angels that we have been introduced too!  I hope we don’t have to wait too long!

 

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