Well, I made the mistake of starting this book this past weekend. And well, I had to finish it. Simple as that. So, rather than working on my family law outline that I vowed to have finished by Friday, I read and read until I finished the dang thing. Wow. Loved it. :) Guess it's time to work on homework after this. LOL.
Brief Synopsis: Gabriel is six months away from taking his place as the Archangel, the highest amongst the angels and the one who serves as an intermediary between the people of Samaria and Jovah, their God. In order to secure his position, he must sing with his angelica at the Gloria. Should he fail in this task, Jovah will smite the world with his wrath. Only problem is that Rachel, the one chosen to marry Gabriel, his angelica, isn't what you would call cooperative. In addition, the current Archangel, Raphael, isn't ready to step down and is attempting to thwart Gabriel's ascension.
Gah...as always...that sucked. LOL. However, I did manage to work in the word "smite" which has always been a personal goal of mine. ;)
Okay, where to begin. First of all, I LOVED this book. Wait, I said that already -- but heck, it bears repeating. I've never read a book about angels (well, other than a couple of Frank Peretti's books) and I really didn't know what to expect. I want to preface this review by saying I know nothing about angels and whatever mythology/etc. surrounds them. Therefore, I'm completely unable to judge whether anything in this book would be offensive to certain religions, etc. However, as one friend pointed out, the angels in this book do get married and engage in *cough*sex*cough* and aren't exactly champions of monogamy or marital vows. So, be forewarned.
One of the things I loved most about this book is the world Shinn created. It was just so...vivid. I had no problem imagining myself walking through the stone buildings atop Eyrie or the crowded marketplaces of Velora... I could almost feel cool wind through my hair as I flew high above Samaria with Gabriel. If I closed my eyes, I could hear angelic voices raised in harmony... Man, it gave me goosebumps. If anything can be said about Shinn, it's that she knows how to turn a phrase--knows how to make you feel things in the marrow of your bones.
Rachel was a great character and her flaws made her real. The tragedies in her life made me empathize and care for her. Even so, at various times throughout the book, I found I wanted to shake, hug, comfort, throttle, or just plain murder the girl...All at once. (g) But man, she was definitely someone I could get behind. Shinn, I've found, often takes a long time to reveal her characters' true motivations. Rachel was no exception, and in the end I really felt like I understood her. Not that this made me want to hurt her any less during certain parts of the book. (g)
Gabriel... oh man. First of all, y'all know I'm partial to that name. And yes, my mind sing-songed "Gabe the babe" many a times during the book. (g) I can't help it. I thought he was wonderful -- and I'm not just saying that because of the fetching leather briefs he ran about in. He had his surly moments--moments when I would think, "What a jerk!" But by the end, he had blossomed like a flower. (VBG) Nah, really -- he was tough, but fair. Stubborn, but flexible when it mattered... There was never a moment I doubted his character.
The two of them together -- Le sigh. At times I wanted to send them to their corners to think about what they'd done or said to the other -- at other times, I wanted to smack them upside their heads and say, "Don't you know you love one another!!" Yeah, true to Shinn form -- their relationship started out a bit rocky and grew throughout the book... man, it was GOOD.
Now, I must admit that the whole "we must sing together on the Gloria" or Jovah will smite the world was a bit...well....sketchy to me. It seemed so...well, silly. (g) But once I allowed myself to sink into and accept the rules of this world, it was a wonderful ride.
I'm not sure I really understood Raphael's agenda in trying to stop Gabriel. Overall, his character was a little weak -- a bad guy who's being bad...for the sake of being bad. He was a bit undefined and my biggest complaint about this book is that she didn't take more time to flesh out why he chose the path he took. But obviously it wasn't a deal breaker for me.
Overall, man....a great book.
Buy or Rent? BUY. NOW.