Harley-riding tough guy, Jim Heron, is a man with a shady past who knows more about revenge than redemption, but suddenly finds himself with a divine mission to save seven souls who have committed the seven deadly sins. First on his list is businessman, Vin diPietro.
Vin never had much of a childhood to speak of. When his parents weren't in an alcohol induced stupor, they were beating up on each other or him, until they finally met their demise when he was only seventeen. In an attempt to rid himself of a psychic gift that he saw as a curse, Vin unknowingly made a deal with the devil. Since then, he has been phenomenally successful in business and no longer plagued by the visions. Vin is about to get engaged, but strangely having second thoughts, especially after meeting a beautiful prostitute at a club. He feels an odd connection to her from the moment his eyes meet hers across the room, and after defending her from a couple of bullying clients, Vin experiences a resurgence of the visions he thought were gone for good.
Marie-Terese Boudreau is on the run from her abusive ex-husband who kidnapped her son. She was able to locate her little boy and get him back, but doing so put her deeply in debt. Ever since, she's been working as a prostitute to earn some fast money, but lately, Marie-Terese has been feeling so emotionally drained, she doesn't know how much longer she can keep it up. Then she meets Vin, and her whole world turns upside down. Not only are his predictions frightening, but he knows things about her that she has tried to keep secret. Marie-Terese finds herself inexplicably attracted to him from the moment she first sees him, but in many ways he is just like her ex which scares her too. Little does Marie-Terese know that she is exactly what Vin needs at this penultimate moment in his life, but when the supernatural world invades the natural will she have the strength to stand by him in his hour of need?
Just when I thought that paranormal romance had little to offer outside of vampires and werewolves, along comes the Fallen Angels series. Don't get me wrong, I love vamps and weres, but sometimes it's nice to mix it up and the Fallen Angels definitely does that. Covet has a little bit of everything. The overarching plot is that of a man who has been chosen to save seven souls from the seven deadly sins, and if he fails, the world as we know it will come to an end. (No pressure.;-)) The paranormal creatures here are angels and demons, but there is also plenty of other supernatural activity in the form of black magic, possessions and psychic visions. There is also a fairly strong mystery/thriller element with brutal murders and a few scenes from the viewpoint of the killer which was reminiscent of a supernatural version of a Karen Rose novel. Then, of course, there is the romance which was sweet and heartfelt while also being very hot. To top it all off this series takes place in the same world as J. R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood, so there is some overlap in characters. There are parts of it that reminded me of the BDB, and I really enjoyed watching for all the little BDB references and tidbits that were peppered throughout the story. Caldwell is certainly a hotbed of paranormal activity. Apparently, it is to New York what Sunnydale is to California.:-)
Our heroine, Marie-Terese was first introduced as a secondary character in the 7th book of the BDB series, Lover Avenged where she worked at Rehvenge's club, ZeroSum, as a prostitute. When Covet opens, she is still a working girl, but now employed by one of Rehv's former bodyguards at a new club and starting to become soul-weary of her job. During Lover Avenged, I had gotten the feeling that there was more story to come for Marie-Terese, so I was happy to find out that she was a main protagonist in this book. I've read very few prostitute heroines, but Marie-Terese was very sympathetic. On the run from an abusive, obsessed ex-husband, and deeply in debt with a little boy to raise, she felt she had few other options. Marie-Terese is a loving, caring mother who never gave up trying to find her son when his father kidnapped him. Now she is living in hiding and everything she does is to keep him safe. Underneath the outer veneer of her hooker costume, Marie-Terese is a gentle, caring soul and a truly good person which is why I think Vin was drawn to her. She definitely isn't your run of the mill prostitute. She regularly attends church, confession and a prayer group not only because she is a woman of faith, but also as a way to keep herself grounded in some kind of normalcy in her otherwise chaotic life. Marie-Terese never really believed in the paranormal until she met Vin, and then it all became much more than mere fantasy for her. I really liked that she was so accepting of Vin just as he was, all his weirdness included, and in some ways her goodness also helped to save him.
Vin begins the story as a cold, calculating businessman who isn't particularly emotional or romantic, but the Warden is a master at redeeming guys who seem irredeemable. Once she warmed him up and used Marie-Terese to melt his icy heart, Vin became almost irresistible. He definitely has a tortured past, not unlike that of the Brotherhood. Both his parents were alcoholics who regularly beat up on each other and him, until they finally killed one another when he was only seventeen. Vin grew up poor in a bad area of town, so it's not too surprising that as a self-made man, he now enjoys living "the good life" in a luxury apartment at the Commodore which I think is even more lavish than Vishous and Manny's (BDB) condos there. All his life, Vin has dealt with psychic visions which branded him an outcast among his peers. He thought that he had purged them from his system until he meets Marie-Terese and then they come back full-force. I thought that Vin's gift added a fascinating new dimension to the story. Best of all, I loved how he is so gentle and protective of Marie-Terese, always putting her safety above his own. He sees her as a beautiful woman who is worthy of his love and not just a body to be used for his pleasure. Vin was equally accepting of her as she was of him, always treating her with the utmost respect in spite of her profession.
Together, Vin and Marie-Terese made a great couple. I loved how when they first saw each other they locked eyes across the club. The electricity between them virtually sparks off the pages. Normally, I don't go for the instant attraction or love at first sight, but J.R. Ward had a way of getting me to believe that these two really saw something special in each other. I loved how the first thing Vin did with Marie-Terese after she left her job was reveal the deepest, darkest part of himself by taking her to his childhood home. It was as intimate a scene as I've read in recent memory and perfect for the situation, because she needed to know that she could trust this man and that he wasn't like the other men she's known all her life. Marie-Terese was perhaps a little slower opening up to Vin, but given her background and the fact that she was on the run from her crazed ex, that's pretty understandable. Most of J. R. Ward's couples have great chemistry, and Vin and Marie-Terese are no exception. Although not quite as erotic as the BDB usually is, their love scenes are still classic J. R. Ward hotness.
Vin may have been the romantic lead, but this story has another hero in the form of Jim Heron. Jim is a military guy with a shady past, apparently as a government assassin, and the powers that be still seem to have a hold over him. He's currently hiding out and working construction for Vin. Much like Vin, he has also had a difficult life. His mother was murdered when he was just a kid and he was the one to find her as she lay dying. In spite of his outward tough guy persona though, inside he has a heart of gold. When a scruffy stray dog decides Jim is his new master, Jim protests, but only weakly. Ultimately, he ends up becoming quite attached to the little guy in very short order. He also seems to care about people in general, and is especially respectful of women, probably because he has very fond memories of his mom. Jim unexpectedly receives a divine mission to save Vin's soul, and the way it all comes down was not what I was expecting. When it came to Jim, there were lots of surprises, and since he'll be the common character throughout the entire series, I'll be interested to see more of his backstory unfold and learn more about his mission.
There are some other secondary characters who I suspect will be following Jim throughout the series. First, was Vin's almost fiancée, Davina. I immediately started wondering what was up with her when she acted sweet and vulnerable for Jim, and then became a confident sex-goddess with Vin. All I can say without giving too much away is that I knew right from the start that she wasn't on the up and up. Then there are Jim's two "friends," Adrian and Eddie. Like Davina, they definitely knew too much and were acting a little strange, but it took a while before who's team (good or evil) they were playing on was revealed. There are also the Four Lads, as Jim calls them, a group of four well-dressed angels with British accents who give Jim his assignments. Then there was Dog. Every scene he was in I just wanted to say, "Awwww!" He was simply too cute for words, and made me want to jump into the story so I could scoop him up and give him some love. Although I'm sure he will only appear in Covet, I think Marie-Terese's son, Robbie, is the first child character I've seen in a J. R. Ward novel (at least those I've read so far). He's a cute kid with a few issues from his father kidnapping him and he and his mother having to live on the run, but Ms. Ward did a good job with making him act his age.
Covet was in some ways reminiscent of the Black Dagger Brotherhood with its tortured hero and heroine and unusual character types, and since the Fallen Angels are a spin-off of that series, there are some common characters as well. Trez, one of Rehvenge's former right-hand men, is the owner of the club where Marie-Terese works. Trez is a pretty good guy in spite of his shady business dealings. He's a lot like Rehv in that he's protective of Marie-Terese and takes good care of all his girls. Butch's former partner, Jose de la Cruz shows up to handle the murder investigation, and BDB fans should keep their eyes peeled for the cameos by Phury and Butch. Blink and you just might miss them.;-)
Overall, I thought Covet was an excellent start to the Fallen Angels series with a different sort of premise that will definitely keep me coming back for more. I'll be interested to see who Jim will be helping next. It all kind of reminds me of a dark, gritty, no-holds-barred version of Touched by an Angel. The story entertained me and kept my brain engaged, but at the same time could be pretty dark and creepy almost making me want to cringe at times. I really enjoyed the book and was usually eager to get back to it when I had to put it down, but for some reason, I didn't quite come away from it with that "Wow!" feeling which is why I didn't give it the full five stars. I'm not entirely sure why that was, but maybe it was because the romance isn't quite as front and center as I would prefer it to be and everything happened rather quickly. But in any case, it was still a great story. Anyone looking for a paranormal romance that breaks the mold, should look no further. In my opinion, J. R. Ward has yet another winner on her hands with the Fallen Angels.
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