Desert Isle Keeper
Wow. Just, wow. Crave left me almost speechless and pondering the intricacies of the characters and situations. Since I haven’t read Covet yet – something I will shortly correct – I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, I can say that if you go into this one expecting or wanting traditional romance or something similar to the BDB series, you’re going to either be disappointed or taken completely by surprise.
Jim Herron and his trusty band of fallen angels, Eddie and Adrian, are key players and pawns in a battle between good and evil. Guided by four archangels and battling the demon Devina, Jim and his crew are out to save the second of seven souls who serve as prizes in the contest to see which side will dominate eternity. This battle, however, hits a little too close to home for Jim and he desperately wants to keep the soul of a former colleague safe from Devina’s clutches.
For the past five years Isaac Rothe has played the role of a hired gun for the most covert elements of the U.S, government working under the infamous Matthias. However, the violence has taken its toll and he wants nothing more than escape, even though escape will likely only come with death. To earn quick cash to keep on the move, the highly trained assassin engages in illegal cage fights. His luck changes when the promoter puts his picture on a flyer and he knows it’s only a matter of time before he’s found and eliminated. Just as luck would have it, a fight lands him in jail where he’s a sitting duck for Matthias.
Since her brother’s death of a drug overdose two years prior, Grier Childe is compelled to make up for her loss by saving lost soles from their own destructiveness. When the posh Boston attorney finds herself appointed as public defender for Isaac, she is instantly aware of the desolation that surrounds him and is determined to help even though she knows he will most likely bail on her. Though Isaac wants to quietly disappear, he’s indebted to Grier and he won’t leave until the debt is paid. When Jim and his boys show up, he thinks he might have a fighting chance against Matthias and the agency, but as things get even dicer, he can only hope that Grier makes it out unscathed.
Though I enjoyed the almost secondary romance elements within the story, there is far more going on here in the form of multiple triangular relationships that added to the intricacies of the plot and where you find its true richness. Eddie and Adrian support Jim in his new role as an angel and are there to teach him the tricks of the trade, as well as get his back when needed. Plus, you see small glimpses of each of their histories with Devina which are described in graphic, violent detail. Another group of three includes Jim, Isaac, and Matthias and their prior working relationship in the desert of Iraq, which helps to give the plot depth. Finally you have the relationship between Grier, her father, and her brother, the most poignant and troubling of the secondary stories.
Though the story is based in fantasy, not everything works out Pollyanna perfect. There are few things more ironic than a demon who seeks help for her compulsive hording from a human therapist – one of th highlights of the story for me. Also, the good guys aren’t always good as they engage in their vices, and make some huge mistakes. Things aren’t tied up neatly at the end of the story for either the good guys or the hero and heroine.I found it refreshing.
The setting is mostly Boston with familiar Caldwell in between, but there is a dark, almost gritty feel to the entire story. I was able to vividly picture Isaac’s cage fighting, feel Grier’s sadness, and cringe at the moments within the story that were hard to read because of the graphic torture.
The book is not perfect and there are little things that bothered me. The hero’s position seems almost hopeless at times – even after the resolution I don’t feel completely content that all will eventually be well. Also, the heroine is older than he, has the wealth, career, and home and the dynamics feel unequal – completely opposite from most historicals. Finally, I just wanted more resolution for Grier, her brother, and her father because its resolution felt like an afterthought.
For me, Crave was a completely unexpected, intense, and rich reading experience – something I’ve wanted for a while and just a little different from my usual fare. I can’t wait for the next installment in the author’s Fallen Angels series.