In a J.R. Ward book we’ve come to expect the pinnacle in world building, character development, emotion, compassion, excitement, and romance. In Crave, the second book of her Fallen Angels series, Ms. Ward continues to do what she does best—build a complex world with an overarching long-range plot and characters that are not only multi-dimensional but also struggle with moral ambiguities and questions that have no easy answers. The Fallen Angel series is "a story as old as time." It’s the story of good vs. evil, where one man, Jim Heron, is charged with saving the souls of seven people. His failure to complete this mission would mean the world would go to hell—literally.
In Crave, Jim Heron comes face to face with his past as he tries to save the soul of Issac Rothe, a man who was part of his former XOps team, a secret government agency that killed "for the good of the country." The only way to opt out of the team is in a body bag. Issac did opt out, only he’s not in a body bag, he’s on the run hoping that his old team, and particularly his boss, Mathais, won’t find him. But that’s a bit of a problem since Issac’s in jail, and he’s got a demon who wants his soul. Grier Childe, a lawyer from the Beacon Hill side of Boston has never met the likes of Issac, and they couldn’t be more opposite. But something about him pulls her in his direction and she finds herself wanting to help him, to understand him, to save him. Romantic complications he doesn’t need. What he needs, what he wants, is a clean break from the XOps team and a chance to live his life on his own terms. It’s good to want things. Too bad we don’t always get what we want.
Crave is the type of book that I love, the kind of book that is becoming a major part of the vocabulary and landscape of romance novels. More and more, we’re reading books that are part of a larger series. Series where each book not only tells the story about the hero and heroine, but where each book contributes to the series by answering questions about the major theme and moral issues of the larger story arc—the reason the series exists, if you will. With this kind of book it becomes imperative that readers pay attention. These kinds of books are not for lazy readers. And that’s a good thing, because most romance readers are not only voracious in their appetites for well-written romance, they’re also intelligent and diligent and demand much from the authors they read. I think that’s why these long-standing, multifaceted, and intricate series are so popular. We’re part of the generation that spent six years watching the TV show Lost, and we want more to hang our hat on—more to wonder about, more to ponder. We’re intrigued by the mysterious, by the unknown and excited about finding answers that don’t necessarily come easy. Don’t get me wrong, we still love our single titles and category romances, but with a long-standing series you get the added bonus of considering each new disclosure and deciphering little clues that begin to paint the picture of the larger world. Along with the anticipation of finding out what happens next, there’s a certain satisfaction in getting to know particular characters over several books and watching them grow. You also have the ability to spend hours online or around the water cooler debating, discussing, and analyzing what the heck happened with other readers who share your love for a specific series.
Until next Monday, remember there’s a book waiting to be read.
I’m curious, what long-standing series has you waiting in line for the next book?
Marisa O'Neill is an avid reader and television producer.
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