the gifted oneRating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links:  Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novel

Tragedy seems to find Matthew Westlake way too easily, especially on his birthday.  His parents were killed on his tenth birthday and he came close to suffering the same fate.  And this year once again he narrowly escapes death more than once.  Matthew is also plagued by horrible nightmares that are so terrifying he is seeing a therapist to help him root out the cause.  But despite the trauma that Michael deals with, he is an incredibly happy and optimistic guy.  Rather than take the bad things that happen to him and turn bitter or depressed, Matthew has managed to channel his  misfortune into a desire to help others and a commitment to living life to the fullest with those he loves.

It turns out that Matthew has more than luck on his side.  For as the seventh son of a seventh son, Matthew has a larger destiny as the Gifted One.  So not only is he being threatened by evil, but also protected by good in the form of his own guardian angel, Gabriel.  Even though Gabriel is supposed to stay in the shadows, circumstances force him to reveal his presence to Matthew.  Gabriel and Matthew form an instant bond, falling for one another despite the fact that Gabriel is not allowed to be with a human, especially one he is charged with protecting.  While Gabriel is determined to stay away from Matthew and do his duty, Matthew also meets police officer Craig Belton.  Craig and Matthew find a strong connection between them as well, falling for one another hard and each recognizing that the other might be exactly the perfect partner for him. Soon Matthew finds himself caught between his feelings for both Craig and Gabriel and trying to sort out what his heart wants.

At the same time, demonic forces continue to try to harm him.  As Matthew gets closer to fulfilling his destiny, those who seek to sway him towards evil get stronger and more determined.  Soon Matthew faces near constant risk, not just to him, but to the family and friends he loves as well.  With the help of both Craig and Gabriel, as well as his own renewed inner strength, Matthew must find a way to fight for his life and defeat the evil once and for all.

Oh, so you could have guessed I would want to read this book just from the gorgeous cover, right? I mean, I am sucker for a hot pair of angel wings!  And I am happy to report that this book totally lived up to the beauty on the cover by providing an exciting and heartwarming story that I just loved.

First off, you just can’t help but love Matthew. He is just so warm and loving and kind.  So much tragedy and misfortune have struck him, and yet it never leads him to darkness or anger. Each blow just makes him stronger and more determined to live his life in a positive way.  Matthew has great inner strength, and we see it grow throughout the story.  The more adversity and danger, the more Matthew is able to call from inside himself, showing incredible bravery and determination, as well as love for those who care about him.  You really can’t help but root for him, for both his happiness and his safety.

My favorite part of the book is the way Flores manages to take so many different plot elements and weave them all together as the story develops.  Although Matthew is the center of the story, there are many things happening that slowly begin to converge.  We see scenes from his past, what is happening with the demons, and what is going on with the angels and their reaction to Gabriel.  We also see Matthew with both Craig and Gabriel, as well as with his best friends and grandmother.  I just loved the way as the book develops, we don’t quite know how all these pieces will intersect and how they will blend together to create the story.  I especially enjoyed how we don’t even know which man Matthew really belongs with until the end of the book.  In the hands of a lesser author this could have been a muddled mess of plot threads and chaos, but Flores does a wonderful job of pulling everything together until suddenly you see how all the pieces fit.  I found it fascinating and really couldn’t put the book down.

Which leads me to my biggest issue, which is that this book is really long at 350 pages.  Now, I will tell you I was totally captivated, so it is not like I found myself bored.  But there is a lot of story here and at times I just felt a little overwhelmed with so much happening.  By halfway through I felt like I had read a full novel and still had half to go.  Again, things never felt dull to me. I couldn’t put the book down and if I had the time to read straight through from start to finish I would have done it in a heartbeat. Really the only part I could have done with less of was the internal politics of the angels.  But it was just a lot of story here.  I also will point out that there is a little too much instant love and attraction here and some occasional slips into prose a little more purple and dramatic than I usually like, especially during the sex scenes.  But I also think a lot of that works here because we are talking about divine beings and angelic love and the sorts of things that lend themselves to a bit of drama.

So I really liked this one and it is a story that I know will stick with me. Flores manages to take traditional themes of good and evil and elevate them into a really creative and interesting story.  I was totally caught up in Matthew’s life and just couldn’t put this one down.  It is romantic and sweet, but at the same time incredibly hot and sexy (oh my word, Craig and Matthew’s sex scene!), as well as thrilling and exciting.  So a great package here and one I definitely recommend.


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