I generally review romance, paranormal and urban fantasy. I tend to pick review books that I want to read, so generally my reviews will be positive. I always give my honest opinion: good, bad, and indifferent.
Note: on my blog I use a letter grading system. I've listed the ratings below. For sites with stars, I have listed the equivalent rating. If I didn't finish the book, I will not rate it with stars.
A+ Personal Favorite (5 stars)
A Loved It (4.5 or 5 stars)
A- Enjoyed A Lot (4 or 4.5 stars)
B+ Liked It A Lot (4 stars)
B Liked It -- Recommend (4 stars)
B- Liked It -- But I had a few small issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C+ Liked It -- But I had issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C Finished It -- Liked some, didn't like some (3 stars)
C- Finished It -- Liked a little, didn't like a lot (2 or 2.5 stars)
D Not A Big Fan (2 stars)
E Don’t Waste Your Time (1 star)
TW: Reading this book was like watching a Train Wreck
DNF: Did Not Finish
updated July 9, 2015
My Rating: A, Loved It
Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About
Review copy provided by publisher.
Burning Dawn is the latest title from Gena Showalter’s Angels of the Dark series which follows a group of desperate and dangerous angel-like “Sent Ones,” each whose status within the heavenly plane is in serious jeopardy. This “Army of Disgrace” is in need of some redemption or they will be permanently kicked out of the heavens. The book picks up shortly after the closing events from the previous story, Beauty Awakened, and I recommend a quick refresher before you dive into this one. Thane, a warrior Sent One, was captured and enslaved by his ex, Kendra, the phoenix princess of Clan Firebird. The book opens with Thane heavily drugged and out of his mind with lust for Kendra. Realizing that Thane is probably her only hope of escaping, another captive, Elin Vale (outwardly human, but half-phoenix), decides to help Thane break from the addictive poison Kendra is feeding him.
The story quickly shifts back to a more “heavenly plane” setting once the pair gain their freedom, and Thane is reunited with his besties: Xerxes and Bjorn. In addition, the reader is introduced to a healthy cast of characters (I took notes to help keep me straight.) From this moment on, I was thoroughly and completely hooked.
Burning Dawn stands out as a bit different than the first two books in the series. While the previous books focused heavily on the necessary redemption aspect of Army of Disgrace, Burning Dawn hardly mentioned this need at all. In addition, the female lead is not human and she is well aware of paranormal life, unlike the prior books. Finally, the book stayed almost completely focused on the main couple - sharing the story only from either Thane’s or Elin’s POV. I feel that all of these points, especially the last one, made for a more streamlined and engrossing story. Other than some confusion in the opening of the book, about what was going on while the pair was still at the phoenix camp, the overall story flowed well--blending humor, action, and romance in near perfect balance.
One of the best things about Burning Dawn is the easy camaraderie Thane shares with his closest friends, and Elin creates with her new coworkers and roommates. There is a lot of easy banter and outright humor that left me laughing out loud more than once. Here is just one of the many examples I could pull for you. When Elin is told to go help clean up the special room Thane used to “entertain” his many woman, Elin thought to herself “Love nest mop-up wasn't what Elin had signed up for. It wouldn't even look good on her resume.”
On the whole, I completely adored both Elin and Thane as both individuals and as a couple. Elin's mix of innocence contrasting with her knowledge of how rough life really is makes her sweet and sassy. She is a series of contradictions. She's part phoenix but abhors violence to the point it makes her ill. She is very literal, which makes her child-like. For example, the staff girls warn Elin not to harm Thane, and she frets because in order to save Thane, she cut his arm with glass to wake him from his drug-induced captivity. Every time Elin was on the page, I grew to love her more.
Thane is a very alpha-male with a soft spot only for Elin. This makes him so endearing and swoon-worthy. He can’t explain why, but life is different when she’s around, and he sees the good surrounding him. He can’t seem to get out of Elin’s intense draw, and luckily for the reader, he doesn’t fight it for long. And although he makes some big mistakes, I appreciate that he quickly recognizes his blunders and works hard to make amends. It was refreshing to have an alpha hero who is quick to figure things out, and have conflicts resolved almost immediately, rather than let issues fester until the end of the book.
Together the pair share some intense chemistry and sexual tension. *fans self*. I like how Elin and Thane had similar life paths, just different results... She won't forgive herself for the death of her mortal husband, so she remains abstinent. Meanwhile, he won't forgive himself for what happened to Xerxes and Bjorn when they were all held captive (long ago), so he tortures himself and his lovers, using them to try and fill a big void. Generally, the pair are very open and honest, which I found enhanced their relationship.
The primary conflict for the duration of the book involves the attempts to locate one of the demons that murdered the Sent One’s leader, Germanus (in a previous book). It is during this time that we learn more about the overall going-ons of the Sent Ones and the heavens. Several characters from earlier books make appearances, but are not crucial to any part of the book. In addition, there are some hints and indications about what is going on with Bjorn and a possible HEA introduction for Xerxes. Even with mention of characters and events from the earlier titles, one could probably read the book as a stand alone without issue.
The final battle was just how I like them: swift, brutal, but not too gruesome. The level of action and detail provided were perfect - emotionally draining at times, but immensely satisfying in the end. There is just one minor (super tiny) issue that I had, which I won’t reveal due to spoilers. It has to do with a panacea of sorts, which didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the story, and in the end, I didn’t have a big issue with it. However, this wasn’t the first time it was part of a book, and if it is something that is used over and over in the future, it will become problematic for me.
All in all, Burning Dawn is a wonderful story with just the perfect amount of romance, sexual tension, action, and humor. I fell hard for both Elin and Thane, connecting with each, and I enjoyed everything about them. I loved their no-nonsense attitude and open demeanor. They are perfect together. I felt the storytelling this time around was sharp and focused. We only had two POVs - the hero and heroine. And although we had glimpses and forward movement with both Xerxes and Bjorn's stories, it was viewed from Thane's perspective. This helped created a cohesive tale that kept me engrossed from beginning to end.