Elle, a human hunter of demons, is driven by revenge. Then she’s forced to work with Patrick, an angel who refuses to take part in any holy wars. Patrick is so determined to live an ordinary human life that he won’t use his powers against a demon who has a personal connection to both him and Elle.16
I thought this plot had potential, but I think that way about a lot of stories. What made me check out Dark Deliverance was the story’s length, or lack thereof. I wondered how characters, plot, sexual tension, action, and worldbuilding would all fit into 49 pages.
Short answer : they don’t.
Long answer… let’s start with the heroine Elle, who wears stiletto heels to hunt. She can sense when a portal to Hell opens, but otherwise she has nothing going for her. Even her kills occur because the demons don’t fight back. The one time a demon actually does so, it slaps her face, and she’s knocked semiconscious.
Patrick prefers humanity to his angelic nature, so he won’t use his holy light, a power available to angels. This leads to an interesting problem when he discovers the demon Pyro has been tapping the light instead. Unfortunately the story lacks space to develop or escalate this twist. As for Pyro, he’s a generic, sneering villain who targets numerous nameless women for slaughter.
The characters would have made no impact on me if not for Patrick’s sexism. His idea of insulting a demon is to say, “If I had a sister, she would hit like you”, and he reflects on Elle’s “mouthy opinions” (but decides he likes that trait of hers anyway). Then he asks how many lovers she’s had :
“I imagine there can’t be many because there’s nothing slutty about you.”
Novellas tend to rush relationships, but this one proceeds at light speed. Elle and Patrick meet after a demon has beaten him up, and within ten minutes, her angelic boss makes him move in with her to hunt Pyro. Patrick’s plan is to go on dates with Elle, making the demon think they’re vulnerable, so he’ll attack. Elle agrees :
“You’re a good strategist. I think your plan may work, after all.”
Two weeks of nothing later, they’re driving around to make it easier for Pyro to find them. I won’t spoil the rest, but suffice to say, Elle never loses her conviction that Patrick is amazing. If you’d like a story where the heroine admires the hero’s “superior wisdom”, look no further.
The sex scenes are unevenly written. From time to time, they’re hot (despite many references to Elle’s “core”), and I felt the characters’ emotions. Then the talking would start. Whether he’s about to penetrate her or save her, Patrick and Elle speak in paragraphs, explaining everything. What they feel, why they’re about to do what they’re about to do, etc.
I have never read about a couple who talk so much. They confide their deepest secrets after knowing each other a few hours, and their conversations aren’t fun to read. Everything is on the surface, without subtlety. “Surely you and I can end Pyro’s reign of terror,” Elle says seriously, which sums up the dialogue.
That said, Dark Deliverance is an easy and lightning-fast read, and I liked the part about the demon secretly tapping Patrick’s power. Readers who are already fans of the author’s Hell on Heels series might enjoy this book, but if I try another angel story, it will be a novel where there’s space for the romance to start and deepen. Sometimes, size really does matter.