Meljean Brook – "Demon Angel"

20 Apr

GENRE: Romance / Paranormal
PUBLISHED: Berkley Sensation, 2007

The back blurb:
“For two thousand years, Lilith wrought vengeance upon the evil and the damned, gathering souls for her father’s armies Below and proving her fealty to her Underworld liege. Half-demon, half-human, bound by a bargain with the devil, and forbidden to feel pleasure, she draws upon her dark powers and serpentine grace to lead men into temptation. That is, until she faces her greatest temptation – Heaven’s own Sir Hugh Castleford…
Once a knight and now a Guardian, Hugh spent the centuries battling demons and the cursed, blood-drinking nosferatu. His purpose has always been to thwart the demon Lilith, even as he battles his treacherous hunger for her. But when a deadly alliance unleashes a threat to both humans and Guardians in modern-day San Francisco, angel and demon must fight together against unholy evil – and against a desire that has been too long denied…”

I was tempted to call this novel a fantasy novel because of the amount of world building going on. Demon Angel definitively delivers more in this regard than the average paranormal romance. But I went with what is said on the spine of the book. After all, I’m happy to see more complex worlds in the paranormal romance world and it would be a disservice to romance novels to call a novel a fantasy novel just because the world building is more refined.

Ironically, in the end it was the scope of the world building going on that kept this novel from being really, really good. It’s not because I thought it lacking, far from it. Actually, I admire Meljean Brook for the vision of it and think the world she created in Demon Angel is well thought-out, interesting and epic in scope. It’s the meshing of this intricate world building with the romance that made this novel more a 4 than a 4 1/2 or 5. At times, that is in the second part, the world building and the plotting overshadowed the romance and it’s the reason I was tempted to call it a fantasy.

It doesn’t help the romance part that the reader doesn’t get to see how Hugh and Lilith fall in love. The first part is roughly 100 pages long and spans a time of 800 years. It covers their first meeting and then shows glimpses of them through the years. They tease each other, bargain with each other, battle with each other, and have quite challenging conversations because neither Hugh nor Lilith is stupid. It’s interesting and fun to follow them along and somewhere there they fall in love. The second and larger part of the novel is set in present day San Francisco. Hugh and Lilith know each other already really well (what would you expect after 800 years?) and, IMO, they already love each other. It’s more a question of “when will they finally admit it?” than anything else for the romance part. Somehow amidst all those intriguing glimpses of their past, the falling-in-love went missing (at least for me). I didn’t see as much of it as I like and that’s a bummer because it’s one of the main reasons I like to read romance.

But there is more than enough in this novel to make up for that. There are
– complex and interesting characters, who reflect the questions the novel poses,
– a layered, intricate plot
– which asks and contemplates some interesting questions: ruling and serving, good and evil,
– good writing (although sometimes it’s a bit heavy on explanation, things are explained several times).

Looking back on the paranormal romances I read recently, Demon Angel is one of the best. So it’s especially important for this novel to remember that the grade reflects only the novel itself, it’s by no means to be understood as a comparative grade to other (similar) novels. Because then it would have to be 5 / 5.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? For its romance, maybe; for its scope, yes.

Grade: 4 (+) / 5


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