Reaver is a brave battle angel, who was once an Unfallen, but he earned his way back into Heaven. However, his past is littered with un-heavenly actions, most of which he doesn't remember. What he only recently discovered is that thousands of years ago, he impulsively slept with Lilith, a union which resulted in him fathering the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. He also recalls caring for a fellow angel named Verrine, who is now a now Fallen Angel, going by the name of Harvester, and to whom he feels he owes a debt for looking after his offspring for millennia. When Harvester is taken captive by Satan and sentenced to a fate worse than death, Reaver knows he has to do something to save her. Venturing into the deadly landscape of hell itself, he risks his life to bring her out alive, but even if he succeeds, he knows he'll face judgment at the hands of the archangels for defying their orders.
Harvester was once a heroic angel who always did the right thing. But after making a vow to protect the children of Yenreith, her only true love, she chose to become one of the Fallen, working undercover in Hell. Harvester eventually became the Horsemen's Sheoulic Watcher. But after her cover was blown, she was doomed to an eternity of torture at the hands of Satan himself, who also happens to be her father, until rescue comes from an unexpected source. Although she remembers her feelings for Yenreith, she no longer recalls his face, so when she discovers that Reaver is her former love, she's more than upset and still harbors a grudge over his actions all those years ago. However, facing the dangers of Hell with him brings them closer together until their love is reignited. But Reaver's actions in saving Harvester make it abundantly clear to the Sheoulic forces that their suspicions about Harvester being allied with Heaven are true, a revelation that will lead to all-out war between Heaven and Hell, resulting in mass casualties in the human realm as well... unless they can figure out a way to stop it from happening.
Reaver is the tenth full-length novel in Larissa Ione's combined Demonica/Lords of Deliverance series. This is Reaver and Harvester's story and one that I've really been looking forward to reading. We got a little of their history together as Yenreith and Verrine in the short story "Eternal Damnation" that was part of the Lords of Deliverance Compendium. When I read it, I became very excited by the prospect of them possibly becoming a couple, but at the time, I had no idea that they were Reaver and Harvester sporting different identities. That little tidbit of information was revealed in the previous book of the series, Rogue Rider, and I couldn't have been happier to learn that they were indeed going to get their own book. Thousands of years ago, Yenreith and Verrine were the best of friends and were starting to become more than that, but lacking confidence due to her inexperience, Verrine pulled back a little from their romantic relationship. Yenreith, instead, was seduced by Lilith and slept with her on a whim, but little did he know that their tryst had created the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Eventually Yenreith's memory was erased and many years later, he became the Unfallen Angel known as Reaver. Although heartbroken by his actions, when Verrine found out about the children, she vowed to always look after them and keep them safe, something that she accomplished by willingly becoming the Fallen Angel known as Harvester and working her way up through the ranks of Sheoul to become their Watcher.
Fast forward and this story begins with Harvester having been taken captive by her father, Satan, who has commanded that she be tortured for all eternity for helping the heavenly side. However, she's trying to convince him that she acted alone, for if he finds evidence that Heaven sanctioned her actions, it will lead to a war between Heaven and Hell. Reaver now knows that he's the father of the Horsemen and that he was the angel formerly known as Yenreith, but most of his memories are still missing. Believing that Harvester can help him fill in the blanks and also grateful to her for all she's done for his children, he decides to mount a rescue, but knowing that it's likely a suicide mission, he chooses to go alone except for three members of Sin's former assassin den who agree to act as his guides. After getting Harvester out and losing all his guides, they must continue by themselves on a dangerous "road trip" through Sheoul. Along the way, Reaver rediscovers some of his memories of Harvester, but when Harvester finds out that Reaver is actually her former love Yenreith, she's hopping mad at him for the way he treated her all those centuries ago. But throughout their journey, they slowly begin to rekindle their feelings for one another until they know that they truly want to be together again. That may not be possible, though, given that Reaver will have to face the wrath of the archangels for his actions. Not to mention, Reaver's rescue mission makes it abundantly clear to Satan that Heaven was indeed allied with Harvester in some way that will provoke all out war between good and evil. And then there's the archangel, Raphael, who double-crosses them both for his own selfish reasons, leaving our star-crossed lovers a lot of obstacles to overcome to find an HEA.
Reaver has been a part of this long-running series since day one, when he was an Unfallen Angel working as a doctor at Underworld General. He wanted nothing more than to earn his wings back and return to the heavenly realm, and he finally did that after a selfless act on his part helped to avert an apocalypse. Then he became the Horsemen's heavenly Watcher opposite Harvester, with whom he's had a contentious relationship (she actually kidnapped and tortured him at one point). But after finding out that he's the Horsemen's father, along with who Harvester really is and all that she's done for his kids, he doesn't hesitate to risk everything to save her, including death, or perhaps worse, eternal torture at Satan's hands. Together, they end up making a formidable pair as they venture through Sheoul, trying to find their way back to the human realm. Even when they're unable to use their full powers, they get by on the strength of their wits and physicality. And once they've succeeded, Reaver once again puts his life on the line to save humanity from the fallout of a war between Heaven and Hell. Reaver's character has been building throughout the series, and although he had no memory of who he was prior to the last thirty years of his life or why he was expelled from Heaven, I've always been curious to find out those answers right along with him. Although the restoration of those memories don't always paint a nice portrait of who he was as Yenreith, it's abundantly obvious that Reaver has changed and grown over time to become a much more admirable hero. Although he can still be a naughty boy, breaking the rules, he's usually doing it for a good reason. He's also put his life on the line many times, so I felt like he more than deserved not only Harvester, but also the other impressive developments that came his way in this story. Most of all, I like the way he is with Harvester, showcasing that generous side of himself, always patient and gentle with her, but being uncompromising in never allowing her to hide from her emotions. He might have just become my favorite hero of the series so far.
Even though she's harbored a grudge against Yenreith for eons and rightly so, Harvester, too, was extremely selfless in willingly becoming a Fallen Angel strictly for the purpose of watching over his children, even after the way he treated her and knowing that she'd never be able to return to Heaven. When Reaver lost all of his memories, everyone who'd known him lost theirs as well. However, Harvester had a loophole in that she could remember everything they'd ever done together, but simply couldn't recall his face, which is why she never knew that Reaver was her lost love. When she finds out, though, she tries to make him pay, but her feelings keep getting in the way. After spending so much time in Sheoul in her quest to become the Horsemen's Sheoulic Watcher, Harvester has an intriguing dynamic between being hard-edged and tough as nails, while still having a little softness left at her core. She's done many bad things she's not proud of, but somewhere deep inside, she's retained a kernel of goodness that flourishes as she spends more time with Reaver. Much like with Reaver, throughout the story, she demonstrates her selflessness by putting others first. Not only did she give up everything for his children but she also proves willing to give up a future with Reaver in order to save his life. Another thing I loved about her is that her word is her bond and she would never dream of breaking it, even if it costs her dearly. All of this made her a great match for Reaver and a very admirable heroine.
Many of the other series characters put in appearances, rounding out the cast. Of course, all the Horsemen are present, although only two of their mates, Arik and Cara, show up. Limos and Arik (Immortal Rider) are perhaps the stand-outs because of a dirty trick that gets played on them. I'm so glad that their part of the story had a happy ending as well. All the Seminus siblings except for Lore are present, too, but his mate Idess (Ecstasy Unveiled) is in a few scenes. Eidolon (Pleasure Unbound) is seen the most, helping Reaver and patching up all sorts of injuries, while trying to keep Underworld General from becoming a madhouse. We're introduced to Blaspheme (or at least I think this was her first appearance, though I'm not absolutely certain), a False Angel, who is working as a doctor at UGH. She's a feisty one, as evidenced by her banter with Revenant, the Horsemen's new Sheoulic Watcher, when he shows up at the hospital. Then there's a huge reveal regarding Revenant, which I'm sure will still be reverberating in his book, Revenant, which is the twelfth of the series. I'm rather sad that I got spoiled on this, because it would have been so much more fun to find out while reading the book, but oh well. Revenant is a hard-ass who maybe has a little goodness in him as evidenced in his desire to adhere to rules and his being repulsed by Satan. It's still going to take some work, though, to redeem him into hero material, but given what a good job Larissa Ione has done with redemption arcs in the past, I have every confidence that she can pull it off.
I have to admit that throughout the Lords of Deliverance part of the series, I've had my doubts about Reaver and Harvester as a future couple. They were always so at odds, I just couldn't entirely see it. There were glimmers of something when Harvester held Reaver captive, but at the same time, her actions always seemed so evil most of the time, I had a hard time seeing her as a viable heroine. When Harvester was taken captive and tortured by Gethel, I started to see some hope, but it wasn't until the big reveal at the end of Rogue Rider that I actually started cheering for their pairing. I'd been eagerly looking forward to Reaver for a while, and it absolutely didn't disappoint. I think it may now be my favorite book of the series so far. Reaver and Harvester as a couple had that perfect balance, still being just a little at odds, while slowly opening up to one another. In spite of past actions that weren't all that admirable, they both proved their love for each other through their actions, as well as their loyalty to the Heavenly realm, while still retaining a little of the edge that makes them who they are now. Their story kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering first how they were going to make it out of Sheoul alive and later how they were going to overcome all the other obstacles that were thrown in their way. Larissa Ione is masterful at plotting books that keep the stakes high, while also providing a hugely satisfying HEA ending. It's why she's long had a much-deserved spot on my favorite authors list. I can't begin say how much fun I had reading this book and as always I look forward to continuing the series soon.
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