#2: The Mephisto Kiss

Main Characters:

Sasha – Jax’s Anabo.  Now a Mephisto too.  She fights but finds it difficult to not just kill the lost souls (which is a win for Eryx) when they push her buttons in fights.

Jax – a Mephisto, charged with sending Lost Souls to Hell on Earth to keep them from Eryx’s grasp.

Eryx – another one of Jax’s brothers.  But, he is evil to the core.  He tries to steal souls while the other brothers try to prevent him from getting them.  If he steals enough he can take over Hell and beat Lucifer and steal free will from all humans.

Jax’s brothers:  Kyros (aka Key; more below), Titus (aka Ty), Xenos (aka Zee), Phoenix, and Denys.  All other Mephisto.  Phoenix met his Anabo (Jane) but lost her to Eryx over 100 years ago.

NEW CHARACTERS:

Key isn’t really new, but since he is the main focus of this story, I am listing him here to give more info.  He is the oldest brother, next to Eryx.  But since Eryx is now evil, he has lead the brothers in their quest to beat Eryx.  He keeps to himself and doesn’t show a lot of emotion.  He is very serious and a good leader.  He has a greenhouse that he loves through and that helps him work out his anger and frustrations and stay in check.  He thinks that his brothers don’t know that he still, despite everything, loves Eryx because he remembers what Eryx was like before he turned evil.  (They do know though we discover).  But, he knows he can’t let Eryx succeed.  He also does everything Lucifer tells him – exactly – because he doesn’t want his father punished.  One of the things is that he keeps his hair long.  He meets Jordan and realizes she is meant for him and he tries to save her from Eryx.

Jordan Ellis – the adopted daughter of the President of the United States.  She is kidnapped by Eryx in his plan to infiltrate the US government in his quest to take over Hell.  He discovers early into the kidnapping that Jordan is Anabo so he decides not to kill her.  Instead, he wants her to have his babies.  Jordan is strong and feisty.  She helps with a teen-suicide hotline.  She always puts others first (this is possibly because of being Anabo).

Tessa – Jordan’s best friend.  She ends up dating Eryx when Jordan comes back to school and Eryx and a few others join her in school.  At the winter ball Tessa realizes that Eryx only has eyes for Jordan.

Matthew – Jordan’s boyfriend in the beginning.  He is shot when Jordan is kidnapped.  He ends up paralyzed because of his injuries.

Mariah – Jordan’s real sister.  (Jordan’s birth name was Viorica).  She was six when she took Viorica away from an abusive relationship with their mother’s cousin’s husband.  When Key discovers who she is, he takes her to Colorado, intending to recruit her to be Lumina.  But as soon as she arrives, Phoenix smells heather (a Mephisto, who is destined to be with a particular Anabo, will smell the Anabo’s unique scent that only he can smell).

Brody – one of the Lumina who comes to DC to help Key while he is attending Jordan’s school.

Main Premise: Jordan is kidnapped by Eryx.  He discovers she is anabo and instead of killing her like he planned, he wants to use her.  Key rescues her, but in the process, she is killed.  She sees an angel who briefly explains the basics to her and she is given the choice between Heaven and immortality fighting Eryx.  She chooses to stay and fight.  Key is then injured and almost dies because he pours so much of his humanity into her to being her back.  In turn, she kisses him, starting the process to turn into Mephisto and the process of becoming Key’s anabo.  The plan is then for the group to take down all the guys in DC who have pledged themselves at a memorial for Jordan but she is spotted by a friend while watching how a take down occurs and that plan is spoiled.  So, she returns to DC and the new plan will be that the skia and lost souls will be dealt with at her birthday, a month later.  She returns to school and Key and Brody join as new students.  Unfortunately Eryx does too; he starts to date Tessa and he converts a bunch of students in the month wait.  Key ends up finding Jordan’s birth sister and brings her to Colorado.

Eryx seems to have something planned; he heals Matthew for Jordan even though Jordan tells him not to.  Eryx recruits some of the students including this girl Courtney who is super religious.  Jordan and Key can’t figure out exactly what Eryx is up to.  Jordan and Key go to the ball where she is crowned Queen and Matthew, who walks in on his own after the miracle of being healed, is crowned King.  Jordan freaks out at Eryx and punches him.  When she goes home, she is supposed to meet Key after discussing the nights events with her father.  But Eryx shows up and he tricks Jordan into kissing him.  Which replaces her progress towards Mephisto (I think this is because while she was turning, she and Key still hadn’t had sex so the mark wasn’t permanent yet).  And so Jordan leaves her family and Key.  Eryx is able to trick her by convincing her that he may have a chance to get turned back into what Key and his other brothers are like if she does, and because of her love for Key (because she knows how much Key loves Eryx despite everything) she kisses him.  As soon as she does, she realizes she’s been ricked and her mark is being replaced.  She leaves her family and goes with Eryx.  Mephisto sends the email that Jordan wrote to Key but didn’t send explaining it all.  Key and his brothers decide to show Eryx that he’s not ready to take on Lucifer and Key is going to sacrifice himself to save Jordan – since as long as she hasn’t been with Eryx to create a lost should she can still go to heaven.  So, when they attack, Key grabs her and brings her to a church in England.  When they walk in the church, they immediately begin to burn.  But, in the moment where they are dying, Key is visited by his mother and she explains that because he loved her so much he was willing to die for her, to save her, he has fulfilled the covenant.  And he has the choice to go back to the world to continue to fight or to go to heaven.  He asks about Jordan and because of why Jordan kissed Eryx she earned the same choice.  So, Key and Jordan rejoin everyone on Mephisto Mountain.  It ends with discussion of the planned take down in DC and hoe Key and Jordan will be happy together.

Locations: Washington DC and Tellerude CO.  There are a few other short scenes with other locations such as London and Bucharest.

Other Important Things to Remember for Later:   If a Mephisto can fall in love with an Anabo and love her selflessly, he can be redeemed and have a chance at Heaven.  She will become Mephisto too, but still mostly Anabo and she will join the boys in their quest to send the Lost Souls to Hell on Earth.    All Anabo have a small birthmark – an “A” with what looks like rays of sunshine and they have a glow that other Anabo and the Mephisto can see as well as a scent that only the Mephisto meant for her can smell.  The Mephisto have certain powers like the ability to freeze humans and teleport.  Once an Anabo has sex with the Mephisto destined for her, she is marked and the others Including Eryx can sense her.  Eryx is one of the Mephisto’s brothers; he killed their mother and now doesn’t belong to Heaven or Hell and he wants to take over Hell by capturing as many followers as possible.  He does not know that the Anabo can redeem the Mephisto.  This fact was depicted in a 500 year old painting that he wanted (but hadn’t seen) and he did not get it or see it.  The Mephisto got a fake to him, but it seemed unclear to this reader as to whether or not Sasha’s mom knew and therefore now Eryx knows.  Phoenix lost his Anabo when Eryx raped then killed her many years ago and now his is (Sasha’s words) a martyr.   But he has a little cabin on the property in Colorado with all of Jane’s things that he visits from time to time because he still mourns her.  There are beings called Skia who are immortal Lost Souls who are supposed to recruit for Eryx; both Skia and Lost Souls pledge their souls to Eryx in exchange for what they want most dearly and they don’t learn until it is too late that they won’t get what they have been promised.  And there are ghosts that are destined for purgatory (called Purgs) because they haven’t forgiven God for what ever reason and the Mephisto help them too.  Often, they give them jobs in their complex in Colorado.  Children of a Mephisto and an Anabo will be born to join the fight against Eryx.  All of Tim, Melanie, Mr. Bruno (the Skia who was recruiting in Tellerude), Chris, Brett and the other followers from Tellerude were captured by the Mephisto.  There are a few Purgs we’ve met: Decon (a medieval Moor and butler to the guys), Margaret and others.    The Ravens is a school “group” which is all about getting recruits to Eryx.  They take an oath and become Eryx.  All of Erxy’s followers have a dark shadow by their eyes.

It’s against the rules for an Anabo or Mephisto to cure a human unless they are the cause of the harm.

Mary, the Anabo angel is the boys’ mother.

Key thinks Mephisto went behind Lucifer’s back and asked God for more Anabo.

Now we have two of the Mephisto who have fulfilled the covenant and earned their chance at heaven.  Key was told by his mother that as long as he never speaks of his encounter with her (at the end), he will keep the memory of the encounter.

Important things about Mariah:  she was physically and sexually abused as a child and her light is all but gone as a result.  She allowed the man doing it to die – she didn’t cause the fire he burned in but she did nothing to help either.  She loved Jordan so much, and she wanted to protect her, that at 6 years old she gave Jordan to an orphanage but went back to the abusive situation to make sure that Jordan wasn’t found.  She was living in Bucharest, making her living as a waitress, when Key found her and brought her to Mephisto Mountain.  She knew nothing of the Anabo.  she is told very little even upon first arrival.  She knows Phoenix seems to hate her.  Key called her broken, and that seems to be an apt description.  But she has kept tabs on Jordan all their lives to know that Jordan is ok.  Eryx might know she is Anabo and who she is because of the guy who attacked them when Jordan popped them to her apartment briefly and a lost soul attacked them.  It was clear that he had been texting with Eryx and Eryx didn’t want them killed.  But exactly what Eryx now knows is a little unclear.

Review:

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 should 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 groups 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 where 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 the paragraphs.  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 so – 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 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 found the easy way out.   Here, we see resolution to the love story that is consistent with the characters and the mythology and 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 didn’t.  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 tasteful 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!  Last criticism: 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.  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!

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