Harry Youngblood has seen the worst life has to offer. He survived a brutal youth in the child sex trade and did all he could to keep his adoptive brothers safe. Edward and Francis suffered their own horrors, but all three were lucky enough to stumble across a witch, an angel, and a demon. Emma spread her considerable power among he boys, making them her familiars and giving them the ability to morph into cats. More importantly, she and her lover Leonard give them the family they’ve always wanted. Now, an adult, Harry and his brothers work to save others from sex slavery, though Harry tends to do so with a recklessness that threatens to get him killed.
Suriel has known that Harry was his future since the first time he laid eyes on the ragged, dying boy. But now Harry is a man and Suriel must make a choice. He is an angel of Heaven and his time with the Youngblood family is coming to an end. He can either return to Heaven or risk the decision to fall. There is no guarantee that he will survive or that he can remain with Harry. Harry must cease his reckless ways and put his faith in something greater than himself if he and Suriel have any chance at happiness.
Amy Lane is one of my favorite authors and I consider her an auto buy. So I was psyched to see this release, especially as it appeared to lean towards the angsty side, something Lane excels at. There is no doubt I enjoyed Familiar Angel. I just didn’t love it. The story does have a ton to recommend it, so let’s start there. Harry and his brothers are bound by something far deeper than blood and their unique bond is really at the core of the story. The nature of their banter and ease with one another is endearing and wonderfully sweet. Their adoptive parents, Emma and Leonard, are equally important and it’s easy to see how such a strong bond formed between this chosen family. Their crusade to help children and teens escape the horrors of the sex slave trade is admirable and at the heart of who they are as people. Harry as the eldest is something of the natural leader, but his self-destructive behaviors threaten the relationship he wants with Suriel. As an angel, Suriel’s job is to suffer. To suffer for humanity and for Harry specifically. The weight of this burden is made realistic and devastating in Lane’s deft hands. Her writing, as always, is superb and aside from a bit of purple prose, the moments that matter are written with depth and an amazing array of emotion.
So my biggest frustration with Familiar Angel came from feeling as though I’d been dropped into a story already in progress. I was always struggling to find my balance and grasp a hold of the narrative. Lane excels at immersive story telling, but rather than being a part of the story, with Familiar Angel I felt like I was merely a spectator and often a confused one. Because of this my connection to Harry and Suriel suffered a bit. While well drawn and constructed, I never felt that I knew them in the way I needed to in order to fully appreciate the story. Perhaps it’s simplest to say the story didn’t flow quite as smoothly as I expected and lacked a measure of cohesion that it needed to soften the edges.
Amy Lane remains one of the queens of storytelling. And while Familiar Angel didn’t hit quite as many of my happy buttons as her works usually do, it still has wonderfully complex characters and a deeply engaging plot. Given that I expect there to be other books in the series devoted to Edward and Francis, it may be that some of issues with the overall story fluidity and cohesion may resolve themselves. Consider this one recommended.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.