When an angel must assemble a team of fighters for the side of good in a battle between good versus evil, she does not choose the good guys. Instead, she picks those cut from a more morally ambiguous cloth. And so begins a new series starring The Baddest Boys in History.
Erik, also known as “Vike,” is part of angel Sela‘s elite team along with several other characters from the ages whose goodness might be described as “dubious” at best. When Vike spies Lacy being targeted by life force sucking creatures of evil one evening, he can’t help but intervene. His intervention has tragic consequences, however, and he discovers that Lacy is in constant peril from the forces of evil.
Lacy is a good girl who works hard and cares for her chronically ill sister. When she’s attacked outside the diner where she waits tables, she sees more than she should when Vike steps in to rescue her. With the realization of Lacy’s divine bloodline dawning on him, he must make a choice: Protect her or take her life and coveted soul.
I was hooked from the beginning of the story, intrigued by this band of unlikely fighters for peace. The author draws from multiple cultures to populate the chosen group, so while this is Vike’s story, it’s still very much an ensemble cast. A large part of the fun for me was guessing which character might be whom from the annals of history. The truth is revealed late in the story. I was utterly off-base on several of my guesses and gasped more than once when I learned each fellow’s true identity.
The personalities of the males and Sela combined with the worldbuilding and action are great. The downside is that Lacey’s personality tends to be overwhelmed a bit, but she holds her own, particularly later in the book. She’s able to handle the rough-around-the-edges guys, providing balance to their living situation and proving her worth as a companion. She provided a nice counterpoint to Vike’s intensity.
The world-building is tight and the dialogue fast and fun. While the book is fairly long at 511 pages, a good portion is necessarily spent setting up the world and general conflict. The bad guys here really are skin-crawlingly bad. Our group of dudes may have committed various crimes and sins in the past, but now they are solidly on the side of good. The guys banter, give each other a hard way to go, and nearly come to blows upon occasion, very much like groups of men in real life. I adore characters who are morally ambiguous and this group fits the bill nicely
The Bastard is a promising start to a new series. It’s rich and layered, detailed but never bogging down with minutiae. With a strong cast of characters, including some super bad villains, I am looking forward to the next book and can’t wait to see which direction the series takes.