The Seven Sins of Ruby Love
Full disclosure, I’ve always been a bit biased towards the Beyond series since the setting is practically in my backyard. The idea that a portal to the afterlife has opened somewhere in Tempe, Arizona just starts me on all sorts jokes about Hell being a summer day here in the desert. Don’t worry though, eternal damnation is just a dry heat. In all seriousness, author Erin Quinn may have some fun in setting her dark paranormal series in a town known for the party school down the street, but she covers some fairly serious ground in the story. The Seven Sins of Ruby Love takes readers down a path that includes demons, ghosts and the idea that there’s a very thin line between biblical salvation and destruction.
There is nothing normal about the Love family. Twenty-something twins Roxanne and Reece were known for their ability to cheat death until the reaper literally came to town to claim their souls and instead decided to stay with Roxanne. Older brother Ryan fell in love with a woman born in the realm known as the Beyond, where God’s other creations live separately from his chosen creation, Humans. Middle sister Ruby Love always considered herself the most average of the siblings since she had no special abilities. That changed after a powerful demon tried to open a portal to the Beyond and it cost her baby brother Reece his life to close it. Ever since, Ruby has been plagued with visions of ghosts that haven’t crossed over to the next plane after dying. For the most part she has learned to ignore the ghosts until the spirt of Reece Love appears to her. Ruby is horrified to think her brother hasn’t found peace in the afterlife and when he asks for her help it shatters her.
Unfortunately, demons have followed Reece’s ghost to Ruby and they try to corner her on a busy street. Running away, she falls straight into the arms of John Cassian who manages to calm her. John knows who Ruby is and can see what was chasing after her as he has been fighting demons his whole life. The events of six month prior led John and his associate to Arizona out of fear that the area is a weak point in the walls that separate the two realms and the demons are slipping through the cracks. Meeting Ruby seems to John like fate has taken control of his mission and she is destined to play a part in whatever course it takes to destroy the threat. John lets Ruby leave the safety of his arms but he never lets her get too far from him. He uses his wealth to have her tracked down and he meets her a second time to get a better understanding of her knowledge of the Beyond and why the demons want her.
The truth for John and Ruby becomes clear when powerful beings start converging on Tempe. A doorway directly to heaven has been discovered and some of those who were cast out believe that Ruby is the key to opening the door so they might forcibly return. These fallen angels know that the key to Ruby’s cooperation is Reece’s soul. If she opens the door then her brother will be welcomed into heaven rather than the purgatory to which his death led him. The risk to the human realm and the Beyond is immeasurable if the doorway is opened. John will not allow Ruby to be sacrificed to this plan and he becomes her protector against the demons trying to capture her. Keeping her close is a risk to John as his ties to the Beyond run deeper than just his mission to keep the demons out of the human world. Ruby and John work together to find a way to save Reece without sending him back to purgatory, but there are other interested parties who haven’t picked a side that stand in their way. As the danger increases it becomes clear that their desire for each other might be the key to everyone’s salvation.
I’ve been waiting two years for Ms. Quinn to publish Ruby’s story and for the most part it was worth the wait. The Seven Sins of Ruby Love does open with the expectation that readers have read – and remember – details from the first book in the series. After a brief chapter or two of reacquainting readers with the rules of the Beyond and the creatures that live there, the story remains clearly focused on Ruby and her part in the Love family’s ties to the supernatural world. It surprised me how removed Ruby was from some of the awful things her siblings had experienced in their own stories; she’s almost like an ostrich hiding her head from the truth that demons are real and that her brother died to protect humans from them. The scales are violently ripped from her eyes when she becomes the linchpin to a new possible apocalypse. Ruby serves as the reader’s view into the events but she should have been more aware that her family was special and she most likely still had a role to play.
John, by contrast, is hyperaware of everything at stake. He is a child of two worlds, with a human mother and a father who is one of the fallen angels scheming to return to heaven. John has been fighting the demons but his ultimate goal is to confront and stop his father from using humanity for his own selfish purposes. John is constantly battling his own guilt about what he’s done in the past to reach a stage where he could fight back against the demons. It’s a very interesting idea to have the hero of a book being morally gray. The more Ruby’s life is threatened, the more John is pulled out of his emotional morass and his priorities come full circle. His human side and all the feelings it brings to the table override any part of John that lingers in the darkness of his supernatural side.
I would have loved to see more closure for the other Love siblings, perhaps in an epilogue that takes place several months after all the battles with demons and beings from the Beyond, but the ending for Ruby and John is a satisfying one. It’s always sad to see a series come to a close; however The Seven Sins of Ruby Love was just enough to satisfy this long time fan.