After growing up in a fundamentalist religious home, artist and children's book illustrator, Cait Douglass longs to break free of the critical voices in her head and make a radical change. Her desire to do so is also fueled by an ex who cheated on her and then went on to marry to the other woman. However, when she decides to take control of her life and lose her inhibitions, she never expected to meet even one, much less two, men at nearly the same time, who stir her interest and stoke her fantasies. Gordon Benjamin, a talented singer known to his fans as just G. B. wins her over with his charming personality from the moment she's introduced to him at one of his concerts. But immediately afterward in the parking lot, she also catches sight of Duke Phillips, a rough-around-the-edges club bouncer who has sex appeal in spades. As Cait continues to get to know these two men over the next week, she finds it increasingly difficult to figure out which one she should choose, and little does she know that her very life may depend upon making the right decision.
Meanwhile, Jim Heron was ahead in the war between himself and the demon, Devina, until he made a fateful bargain, offering her one of his wins in exchange for the soul of Sissy Barten, an innocent killed by Devina, something that has haunted Jim from the very start of their contest. When Devina agrees and Sissy is finally under Jim's protection, he finds himself deeply distracted by the girl who holds his affection but who he knows he can never have. As Jim works to help Sissy readjust to being on the mortal plane again, but not really alive, the war continues without him, and the life of yet another soul facing a crossroads hangs in the balance. As revelations come to light and twists of fate rock both Earth and the heavenly plane, the future of humanity comes down to whether Jim can get his head back in the game and find the will to keep going in his role as the savior.
Possession is the fifth and penultimate book in J. R. Ward's Fallen Angels series. This one has the action playing out on a lot of different fronts and from a number of different POVs. IMHO it feels a bit more like urban fantasy than paranormal romance. The romance is present and it does have an HEA ending for the "main" couple, but it's sometimes overshadowed by other events. The romantic entanglement involves a woman named Cait who meets and unexpectedly finds herself attracted to two men at the same time. It takes her quite a while to make up her mind who she truly wants to be with. Therefore, the reader is also in the dark until about two-thirds of the way into the story. While the romance plays out, Jim finally gets Sissy back and spends a large part of the book distracted by her and struggling to pay attention to the war, which leaves things wide open for Devina to pounce on the soul who is at the crossroads and in need of saving. There are also some other surprising occurrences which will likely have repercussions in the final book.
Cait is an artist, children's book illustrator, and college professor who knew Sissy in her mortal life. She was raised in a fundamentalist religious home and has been trying to escape her upbringing. Cait came close to marrying when she was in college, but her boyfriend ended up cheating on her and married the other woman. She hasn't really had a relationship since, and deciding that she needs a change in her life, she gets a new hairdo and then goes out with a good friend to a café where G. B., a local musician, is performing. The guy catches Cait's eye, but she has no intention of pursuing him until he comes over to their table after the show. He totally charms her and asks for her phone number, but as she's leaving the café, yet another gorgeous man makes an appearance, leaving her breathless and a bit rattled after they share a sexually charged moment. A couple of days later, Cait sees him again when she attends another concert G. B. is involved in and this time, she discovers his name is Duke and he leaves her an open invitation to visit him at the club where he works as a bouncer. Late that night, she takes him up on it, and ends up having the sex of her life which leads to even more, but she still can't quite forget G. B. Cait is a relatable heroine who is trying to break free from her bland life and live a little and is fortunate enough to find two gorgeous men interested in her. Even though it was a bit frustrating not knowing which man to root for, I understood why Cait had such a hard time making up her mind given that each one has something different to offer. Ultimately she does finally make a decision but not before it leads to a whole lot of mayhem.
The two men who catch Cait's eye are a study in contrasts. Gordon Benjamin, known as G. B. to his fans is a talented, up-and-coming musician who is well-loved by his devotees, most of whom are female. He can charm the socks - and other articles of clothing - off nearly any woman he meets and is a bit of a player. He goes after Cait with a great deal of enthusiasm, which was appealing at first until he seemed rather flakey when it came to following through on his promises. However, his magnetic personality helped to make up for some of his shortcomings. Then there's Duke who can be equally appealing but in a completely different way. He practically oozes sex appeal right off the page, but he has a lot of hard edges that at first made him a little difficult for me to like. He had a serious girlfriend years before in college but a cheating incident left him soured on life in general. So he left that part of his life behind and now works maintenance for the city by day and is a bouncer at the Iron Mask by night. During his first couple of encounters with Cait, he behaves in a rather arrogant manner that didn't entirely work for me, but he gradually softens as the story progresses. As I mentioned, it's not until about two-thirds of the way into the story that it finally become apparent which one is actually the hero. I can't say much more about these two men without giving away spoilers, but one of them is the soul at the crossroads.
The other part of the story involves Jim, Adrian, Sissy, and Devina and the ongoing battle for the souls of humans at a crossroads of life. At the end of the previous book, Jim had offered Devina a deal: one of his wins in exchange for her releasing Sissy from the Well of Souls. Needless to say, Devina accepts the offer, so we finally get to really meet Sissy. However, Jim is so burnt out on the war and so distracted by having Sissy back that he spends a large part of the book abdicating his responsibility as the Savior. Adrian tries to pick up the slack but isn't entirely successful. For her part, Sissy struggles with being back on the mortal plane after enduring hell, but she's still not really alive. She spends the better part of the story trying to figure out her place in everything that's happening. As it turns out, she's pretty much as sweet as we've been led to believe thus far, but she grows stronger every day, leaving me with the impression that she's probably going to play a key role in the finale. Then there's Devina, the demon readers love to hate. The void Jim leaves as he takes care of Sissy allows Devina to get a leg up in the game, but she still hasn't given up her obsession with wanting Jim all to herself. There are also some surprising developments on the heavenly plane that hopefully will be more fully explained in the final book.
Overall, Possession was a good addition to the series, albeit not my favorite. As I said before, the romance is somewhat subdued. I understand why Ms. Ward created the love triangle, but not knowing who to cheer for made it a bit difficult to become invested in the romance until that two-thirds mark. Also, while there's plenty of lustiness, the man Cait ends up with doesn't really open up to her emotionally until near the end of the book, leaving little room for building that all-important trust and a deep romantic connection. The parts about Jim, Sissy, and the others were good, and for the most part, I think they were a necessary lead-in to the final book, but it does take some time away from the romance. I always love the little connections with the Black Dagger Brotherhood that pop up in these stories, so seeing Xhex aka Alex Hess as Duke's boss was welcome, as was the brief sighting of John Matthew. Dog appears once, but doesn't play as much of a role in this one, although I'm pretty sure he showed up in a different form in another part of the story. Despite a few weaknesses, I enjoyed Possession and look forward to seeing how this all ends in Immortal, the last book of the series, while hoping that perhaps Jim and Sissy will finally get their HEA ending.
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