Gabriel has fought to stay alive his entire life. He is a half-blood, born to an angelic mother and a demonic father, and has been hunted for most of his life. Both Tenebris (demonic warriors) and Bellator (warriors of light) want him dead, rarely giving him a moment’s peace. At the will of the Creator, Gabriel has been given teachers who will help him learn to control his light side and his dark urges: the angel Michael and the demon Barabbas. Unfortunately for them both, Gabriel wants nothing to do with either of them.
Now, however, the Creator has a new mission. Gabriel has been tasked with finding his parents, but he won’t be doing it alone. Helping him will be a force of Bellator fighters, including his fated mate, Evander, who wants nothing more than to see him dead.
I found it hard to finish reading this book. The writing is decent, the pace and the plot twists are skilled enough, but the characters and the world building left me feeling utterly disinterested in finishing this story which, I should warn you, ends on a cliffhanger. Since most of the book involves Gabriel bonding with Evander’s group of holy warriors, with brief moments set aside for the story, the characterization is important. Unfortunately, I so disliked Gabriel and was so uninterested in the other characters that I found it hard to care when the plot did show up, and with the world building so confused and weak, I struggled to make myself keep reading to the end.
Gabriel is a Gary Stu (aka a male Mary Sue). He’s amazing, he’s wonderful, he’s Linda Evangelista. He’s a powerful warrior, healer, mage, and computer wiz. He’s somehow rich enough to have a half dozen or more bolt holes around the city stocked with weapons, computers, food, and personal gyms. He’s so strong that even full demons are in awe of him, he can take more pain than a thousand angels, and he’s powerful enough he’s able to keep his dark side in control, a dark side that, if unleashed, could destroy a city. He knows every hybrid, is friends with every hybrid, fights in an underground fight club for hybrids, and even conducts his own underground railroad, saving young men from being brutalized and killed by evil Tenebris and corrupt Bellators. If it weren’t for his pesky demon blood, Gabriel might well be a saint.
Everyone likes him, except his fated made, Evander, and Evander’s fighting group. Evander and his guys have been trying to kill Gabriel for years, maybe even as long as twenty years. However, due to their orders, this group of Bellators are now going to be working alongside this half demon they have tried to murder on a regular basis. Gabriel has no problem commanding them or fighting with them, even though they spent years trying to kill him. Evander, his mate, who has also been trying to kill him for years, now gets sick to his stomach when he has to see Gabriel in danger.
I mention this, over and over, because it seems to get overlooked in the story. It’s mentioned briefly in the beginning that these men — most notably the man who is destined to be Gabriel’s true love — try to kill him. Not just beat him up… they try to kill him. Again and again. But you’d never know this from the story because it’s never brought up again. It’s as if Gabriel, Evander, and everyone else conveniently forgot that Evander and his men hunted and tried to kill Gabriel for most of his life.
Evander comes across as rather weak. He’s emotionally unstable, he sulks, and he has no idea what he’s doing. Nevermind he’s been a Bellator for nearly sixty years, he’s absolutely useless in any situation involving people skills. His men follow his orders in combat, but argue with him, bitch and moan at him, and yell at him as soon as they’re out of it. They contradict him, insult him, and ignore him. Evander has to ask other angels for help in punishing one of his men because they won’t obey him.
Part of it is, I think, that in order to make Gabriel the best thing since sliced bread, the author takes anything and everything good away from other characters for comparison. However, this ends up leaving Evander big, surly, whiny, and weak. He’s boring, a poor friend, and absolutely passive in his relationship with Gabe. Gabriel even manages to befriend Evander’s team out from under him. Again, even though these are men who, not a week ago, were actively trying to kill him. Speaking of the other men, while one of them has the personality of “angry,” the others are just names and bodies.
As far as world building, I felt nothing in this world makes any actual sense and none of it is dealt with or explained. Much of the world building, like Gabriel’s past with the Belaltors, is simply ignored when it’s inconvenient. For example, there are demi-gods in this story. Did the Creator make them? Did It not? The author adds in vampires, werewolves, fairies, and everything else with seemingly no thought for how they all fit together in a world of demons, angels, and an all-powerful Creator. It just feels sloppy.
Again, the writing isn’t bad. It’s just everything else. Gary Stu’s are boring to read about, for me. They never have any depth because they’re too perfect and giving them a tragic past for dramatic effect doesn’t help the problem. The way the author put every pain in the world on Gabriel, while making him a saint, didn’t make me feel sorry for him. It just felt predictable. Then there’s the scene where Gabriel is harming himself with a razor. There’s no real impact to the scene, for me. It feels like it was shoehorned in just to try to make me weep for Gabriel. It irked me to see a serious issue handled in such a simplistic way.
The sex scenes between Evander and Gabriel have the usual “instant boner” magic. Gabriel didn’t seem to want Evander as a person, and didn’t treat him as a person. It felt more, to me, like Gabriel was just letting off some stress with his “fated mate,” and if his mate had been a blow up doll or some random pickup from a bar, it would have read much the same. I despised the characters, I didn’t care about the world, and the plot was okay. The writing deserved better than this book, and maybe future works will be worth a read.