A Fine Work of Art was my first book by Shelby Reed, a beautifully written character study embedded in a romantic storyline. So when I saw the author had a new book coming out, I hoped for a similarly absorbing story. Seraphim is a well-written spiritual love story (the hero is an angel) focusing on the development and exploration of the main characters. But I also found it to be slow-paced and the external action to be not very interesting.
Gia Rossi seems to have it all: she is 26, beautiful, and the wife of a rich husband who provides her with financial security and affection, the very things she craves after a lonely childhood of neglect and abuse. However, when Gia is abducted by a bunch of intimidating strangers, her suppressed fears and suspicions in regard to her husband’s dubious business activities reluctantly float to the surface. But she would never have guessed the whole truth about Vincent Rossi.
Joachim is one of the Archangel Michael’s best seraph warriors, a seasoned leader of several missions to Earth to fight evil. This time his mission is to rescue Gia Rossi from a demon’s clutches and to help her relocate a medallion that at one time was in her possession. Both Gia and the medallion are destined to play a crucial role in rescuing the world from the evil. However, Joachim never expected to fall in love with his protégée.
Initially Gia seems to be a superficial person obsessed with material security. But, as the story unfolds and we learn more and more about her background and motivation, she develops as a character begins to question herself and her previous choices in life. Her falling for Joachim, her attractive, remote captor, first screamed of Stockholm Syndrome to me, but like Gia, Joachim’s complexity is also slowly revealed and the character comes alive.
Although Joachim has been sent to Earth on countless missions throughout the centuries, this mission is different. Elusive memories of a dead, charismatic criminal whose body he “borrowed,” and his charge Gia stir unknown feelings in him. He is distressed by his physical affection and the increasing, forbidden bond with Gia. The emotional and sexual chemistry between Joachim and Gia is tangible and sizzling hot, additionally fuelled by their awareness of the forbidden nature of their relationship. Gia’s, and especially Joachim’s, character growth is interesting to follow. Once I got to know Gia and Joachim better I rooted for them and wholehearted wished them a HEA. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen until well into the book, and the unhurried external plot only picked up pace at the last third.
Until then, it wasn’t hard for me to put Seraphim down whenever real life intruded, because the spiritual aspect of the book didn’t overly interest me, though I also willingly picked up the book again because of Gia and Joachim. Even while appreciating Shelby Reed’s beautiful writing, I idly wondered when something interesting was finally going to happen. I found the build up of the storyline and the main characters took too long and would have preferred a more balanced ratio of internal and external action. The overall slow-motion pace put a damper on my enthusiasm. I also thought the story’s conclusion, albeit satisfying for any romance lover, was too romanticized to be memorable. It came across as too easy and made me think of the saying “having your cake…”
All in all, Seraphim was a reasonably enjoyable read; the “pay-off” more than compensated me for what I didn’t like. I wasn’t too crazy about the book’s spiritual aspect and the rescue-the-world storyline, but I found it ultimately well worth the journey due to the vivid characterizations of Gia and Joachim. I loved to watch these two very different people struggle with their inner conflicts and grow and fall in love. Moreover, I relished the conflict of forbidden love and Shelby Reed’s rich writing style.