RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Envy by JR Ward

C

Title: Envy
Author: JR Ward
Publication Info: Penguin 2011
ISBN: 978-0451229458
Genre: Paranormal

Envy This review was written by Michelle B. This story was nominated in the Best Paranormal Romance category.

The summary:     

As the son of a serial killer, homicide detective Thomas “Veck” DelVecchio, Jr., grew up in the shadow of evil. Now, on the knife-edge between civic duty and blind retribution, he atones for the sins of his father- while fighting his inner demons.

Assigned to monitor Veck is Internal Affairs officer Sophia Reilly, whose interest in him is both professional and arousingly personal. And Veck and Sophia have another link: Jim Heron, a mysterious stranger with too many answers… to questions that are deadly.

When Veck and Sophia are drawn into the ultimate battle between good and evil, their fallen angel savior is the only thing that stands between them and eternal damnation.

And here is Michelle's review:

Envy, by JR Ward, is the 3rd installment of the Fallen Angels series featuring Jim Heron and his fallen angel wingmen as they once again go up against evil, aka Devina, in a battle of souls.

I should probably preface this review with a disclaimer that I’m not a huge JR Ward fan.  I was initially a fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, but stopped reading after the 5th or 6th book because I was just so over the dippy language and my general “meh” feelings about where the series was going.

Envy along with Covet  (A | BN | K | S) and Crave ( A | BN | K | S) are the first three installments of the Fallen Angel series by JR Ward.  Readers who adore JR Ward and her Black Dagger Brotherhood books will undoubtedly enjoy this series as well.  What struck me about this series, though, is the way I can easily hook each book in this series to a Joss Whedon TV series or two and a couple of movie plots and call it a day. What do I mean?  Let’s have a run down:

Essentially, the Fallen Angel series by JR Ward is really a blend of the television show “Angel” (or “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” take your pick).

Jim Heron is essentially the character of Angel.  He used to be a killer (like Angelus), but choose to work for good instead of a potentially evil government agency.  Jim has been tasked to be the intermediary in this showdown between good and evil by “The Creator” and two archangels (The Powers That Be).  Jim has sidekicks, Adrian, Eddie and Dog (Wesley, Gunn, Cordelia).  Finally, each book has a person or persons who need saving, as in most “Angel” episodes, who Jim (Angel) works with his crew (like the Scooby Gang) to help them choose the good side or the dark side.  Meanwhile, there is a nemesis, Devina, who is a demon of the dark side (the Big Bad) who both desires Jim but wants to win the overall battle of the seven souls.  Devina also resembles Wolfram Hart, the law firm for demons on “Angel,” who desired Angel to work on their side and always wanted evil to win over good.

The Fallen Angel books each feature angels or guardians who bring Jim or his cohorts to a heaven-like area for conversations about the contest or the rules, a wall or area of a swirling mass of eternally-damned souls captured by Devina, and a demon who can impersonate or infiltrate anyone she wants. This series is both familiar and formulaic as far as good vs evil stories go – these themes have been repeated in many different movies about good vs. evil, for example. Again, as with the Angel television series, each book features a soul at risk or a good person about to be sucked into evil, and Jim and his cronies are there to try to help.  They don’t always succeed, and they have their own personal motivations for being there.  It feels like “Archetypes 101” to me, but fans of JR Ward and the BDB will probably enjoy it and wait with anticipation for book 4, which is available for pre-order now and comes out in September.

To get to the nitty gritty of “Envy,” the premise of the Fallen Angels series is convoluted so I don’t recommend reading this 3rd installment as a stand-alone book. As with the BDB series, Ward once again employs the same brand name dropping and colloquialisms that pepper the POV of the characters.  I’ll admit that nothing takes me out of a story more than typos in books, and this series is riddled with bizarre abbreviations, which are undoubtedly supposed to be cool, but instead make my inner editor cringe.   Examples of this include “compy,” “bene,” “abso,” and the hyper-annoying “invisi.” Also noteworthy to the inner editor is the incorrect punctuation on numerous tag questions throughout all three books in the series.  I can’t be sure if this is a literary device or poor editing, but a sentence like “Am I so predictable.” is noticeable and makes me grind my teeth every time. My dentist won’t be thrilled.

As noted in my parallel to Angel above, Jim Heron is our hero, and in each book of the series he is given a person to help guide to the “right” way, because in this battle of good vs evil, for good to win, four of the seven souls need to choose to go to the good side of their own free will.  In “Envy,” Jim bargains with the evil yet outwardly beautiful demon Devina to learn that the soul at hand is Thomas DelVecchio Jr, a cop and the son of one of the nation’s most notorious serial killers. 

At the start of Envy, “Veck,” as he is called, is at the scene of a stakeout in which he has seemingly caught a serial killer who has been terrorizing young women.  Unfortunately, Veck can’t remember what happened, and Kroner, the serial killer, appears to have been savaged by animals.  Veck calls 9-1-1 and his partner to come and help him, as Veck has a terrible headache and no memory of what happened. He is worried that he tried to murder Kroner in a fit of rage that he can’t recall.   Also called to the scene is Sophia Reilly, a beautiful internal affairs officer who’s headed to the scene to investigate Veck’s possible police involvement in the attack on serial-killer Kroner.

What follows is an intricate story of a young serial killer caught by the son of an old and imprisoned serial killer, and the search for the body of one of Kroner’s potential victims.  Jim and his crew of fallen angels arrive impersonating federal officers, and they begin to help Veck deal with his dark side.  As with the previous books in the series, Veck and female love-interest Reilly are immediately hot for each other, and both have difficult pasts to deal with.  Veck has been trying to deal with his “dark” nature for many years, mostly by avoiding it, but the arrival of Jim and crew make that impossible. 

Interesting details about Veck include his avoidance of mirrors or reflective surfaces, and that he appears to have two shadows instead of one. Jim and the other fallen angels are there to both remove the darkness from Veck, and help him towards his final decision between good and evil.  Additionally, in a continuing plot thread for Jim, the body of the Kroner victim is also a young woman who Jim has vowed to save from Devina, as the young woman’s soul has been captured by the demon and is suffering in Devina’s realm.

As always, Devina is there is wreak havoc. As a demon, she can be anyone she wants, impersonating and infiltrating the minds of any and all.  She also continues to break the rules of the souls showdown, rules that were set forth by “The Creator” and overseen by the Archangels, Colin and Nigel. 

The romantic characters of this book, Veck and Reilly, go through many trials as they fight, then act on, then fight once again their attraction to one another.  Jim also goes through a number of trials, including a significant loss, and his continuing quest to save souls from Devina.  Woven throughout the storyline are minor characters to advance the story, and some nods to the BDB series, including a cameo appearance of a black Cadillac SUV that passes Veck and Reilly in the night.

Overall there is a feel that the Fallen Angels series is just a lesser (heh) version of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.  BDB encompasses centuries of mythology and history, because the vamps have been around a long time and are intertwined with each other in a significant way.  So far, this doesn’t feel true about the Fallen Angels series.  Each book has a new romantic couple, one of whom has the soul in question, and they, along with Jim and his cronies, face down personal demons and real evil.  I fully expect that each book will continue in this same, established pattern until the series has played out.  My final verdict on Envy is a C grade.


This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    LeighAnna Thomas says:

    Sarah,
    I’m kind of in the same boat as you regarding the JR Ward books. I luuuuurved the first few BDBs but after book 6, sort of lost interest as well.  There just wasn’t enough “umph” to get me to buy more.  However, when they came out on audio, and I had enough credits (just this year), I bought all 11 audio books for $34.  Yepper.  I listened to them all, back to back…..and let me tell ya, Jim Frangione rocked it for me.  All the way to the end. 
    Well, before the whole audio experience, I did start to read her new Fallen Angel series.  I was sorely disappointed, thinking to myself ‘yep, I’m not a Ward fan, I guess’.  I read, no, forced myself to read three-quarters of the book, and closed it.  I loved the premise, fallen angel making atonement, hot guy, damsel in distress…it hooked me, but the story just didn’t grab me, hold me, draw me in.  I did buy the second book, just in case. I’ve never opened it.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one.  But I do recommend you give Jim Frangione’s reading a try……mmmmm, Vicious (Jim’s deep voice), with Jane up against the bathroom wall, “ask me what I’m going to do to you?”  Excuse me while I change my panties again.

  2. 2
    LeighAnna Thomas says:

    Sarah,
    I’m kind of in the same boat as you regarding the JR Ward books. I luuuuurved the first few BDBs but after book 6, sort of lost interest as well.  There just wasn’t enough “umph” to get me to buy more.  However, when they came out on audio, and I had enough credits (just this year), I bought all 11 audio books for $34.  Yepper.  I listened to them all, back to back…..and let me tell ya, Jim Frangione rocked it for me.  All the way to the end. 
    Well, before the whole audio experience, I did start to read her new Fallen Angel series.  I was sorely disappointed, thinking to myself ‘yep, I’m not a Ward fan, I guess’.  I read, no, forced myself to read three-quarters of the book, and closed it.  I loved the premise, fallen angel making atonement, hot guy, damsel in distress…it hooked me, but the story just didn’t grab me, hold me, draw me in.  I did buy the second book, just in case. I’ve never opened it.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one.  But I do recommend you give Jim Frangione’s reading a try……mmmmm, Vicious (Jim’s deep voice), with Jane up against the bathroom wall, “ask me what I’m going to do to you?”  Excuse me while I change my panties again.

  3. 3
    DonnaMarie says:

    Michelle you are so much kinder than I would have been. I think Ward has become entirely too self indulgent as a writer, as evidenced by the cutesy language. There is so much more I could say, but I got my rant in earlier this week.

  4. 4
    DonnaMarie says:

    Michelle you are so much kinder than I would have been. I think Ward has become entirely too self indulgent as a writer, as evidenced by the cutesy language. There is so much more I could say, but I got my rant in earlier this week.

  5. 5

    I was so happy when I first discovered J R Ward’s BDB Series. Seriously, I couldn’t stop gushing about it to my friends. But as I devoured her books one by one, my enthusiasm waned. I had a bloody headache trying decipher the atrocious way in which the characters were speaking in. The way Ward was also adding a random h to any word to made it seem different just made me more and more irritated (It seems like a child’s failed attempt to build up a unique world).

    The part that broke it for me was how the book kept giving me useless peaks into the twisted thinkings a psychopathic lesser (can’t remember who was it) just when the story got exciting. I was left hanging again and again, feeling frustrated and having a burning urge to throw the book across the room. I just feel so cheated.

    I completely agree with Donna above. You are much too kind.

  6. 6

    I was so happy when I first discovered J R Ward’s BDB Series. Seriously, I couldn’t stop gushing about it to my friends. But as I devoured her books one by one, my enthusiasm waned. I had a bloody headache trying decipher the atrocious way in which the characters were speaking in. The way Ward was also adding a random h to any word to made it seem different just made me more and more irritated (It seems like a child’s failed attempt to build up a unique world).

    The part that broke it for me was how the book kept giving me useless peaks into the twisted thinkings a psychopathic lesser (can’t remember who was it) just when the story got exciting. I was left hanging again and again, feeling frustrated and having a burning urge to throw the book across the room. I just feel so cheated.

    I completely agree with Donna above. You are much too kind.

  7. 7
    kkw says:

    I think the key to enjoying the BDB books is to skip anything written in italics, as those are the lesser parts, pun intended.  And as with any series, force yourself to space them out, otherwise the formula and the idiosyncrasies become overwhelming (and with Ward they’re overwhelming enough in a single book, however cracktastic).
    This Fallen Angel series, it’s not that good, but it’s not that bad, either.  I think a C is totally fair, although comparing it to Joss Whedon isn’t.  Angel had a lot of mediocre moments, and some almost entirely unwatchable seasons, as well as some truly brilliant episodes (but you really have to endure all the bad parts to appreciate the good ones, so I don’t exactly recommend the series unless you luv all things Whedon).  But Whedon at his worst (Angel? Dollhouse?) is still better than this.  I mean, come on.  Cordelia as analogous to Dog?  Am I missing some hot, snarky Dog humour?

  8. 8
    kkw says:

    I think the key to enjoying the BDB books is to skip anything written in italics, as those are the lesser parts, pun intended.  And as with any series, force yourself to space them out, otherwise the formula and the idiosyncrasies become overwhelming (and with Ward they’re overwhelming enough in a single book, however cracktastic).
    This Fallen Angel series, it’s not that good, but it’s not that bad, either.  I think a C is totally fair, although comparing it to Joss Whedon isn’t.  Angel had a lot of mediocre moments, and some almost entirely unwatchable seasons, as well as some truly brilliant episodes (but you really have to endure all the bad parts to appreciate the good ones, so I don’t exactly recommend the series unless you luv all things Whedon).  But Whedon at his worst (Angel? Dollhouse?) is still better than this.  I mean, come on.  Cordelia as analogous to Dog?  Am I missing some hot, snarky Dog humour?

  9. 9
    MaddBookish says:

    All the Angel referencing really put me off the review. The Jim Heron and Angle characters don’t jive together in my head and it all seems kind of an over-reach. Yes, loads of good versus evil stories share similar themes. If we were just going with that, I’d be on board, but specifically comparing it to Angel was just a bit much for me.

    The series is ok. I’ll probably … okay, maybe … read the next book. The whole Jim/Devina dynamic is really off-putting. I want to like Jim, but his dealings with Devina are just a bit too squick inducing for me and really make me think less of him as a hero. So far my favorite character has been Veck and, considering he intended murder to begin with, that ain’t sayin’ much.

  10. 10
    MaddBookish says:

    All the Angel referencing really put me off the review. The Jim Heron and Angle characters don’t jive together in my head and it all seems kind of an over-reach. Yes, loads of good versus evil stories share similar themes. If we were just going with that, I’d be on board, but specifically comparing it to Angel was just a bit much for me.

    The series is ok. I’ll probably … okay, maybe … read the next book. The whole Jim/Devina dynamic is really off-putting. I want to like Jim, but his dealings with Devina are just a bit too squick inducing for me and really make me think less of him as a hero. So far my favorite character has been Veck and, considering he intended murder to begin with, that ain’t sayin’ much.

  11. 11
    infinitieh says:

    Hey, I just have this series because the covers are of Paul Marron by Don Sipley.  I couldn’t get all that excited about BDB series; I just read two books (including LOVER AVENGED, with Paul Marron on the cover by Craig White – what a cover!) and that was enough.

  12. 12
    infinitieh says:

    Hey, I just have this series because the covers are of Paul Marron by Don Sipley.  I couldn’t get all that excited about BDB series; I just read two books (including LOVER AVENGED, with Paul Marron on the cover by Craig White – what a cover!) and that was enough.

  13. 13
    Tanya Sheppard says:

    What really did JR Ward in for me with the BDB was the-god-awful slang. I wanted to scratch my eyes out and smack every one of them..with the solitary exception of Zadist, who will forever be the apex of tortured hero redeemed by love..I prefer to think that the whole thing ended with his story (and the following novella)  even though I dragged myself through a few more of her books. Never started on her fallen angels series. And your review only confirms why I didnt. thanks!

  14. 14
    Tanya Sheppard says:

    What really did JR Ward in for me with the BDB was the-god-awful slang. I wanted to scratch my eyes out and smack every one of them..with the solitary exception of Zadist, who will forever be the apex of tortured hero redeemed by love..I prefer to think that the whole thing ended with his story (and the following novella)  even though I dragged myself through a few more of her books. Never started on her fallen angels series. And your review only confirms why I didnt. thanks!

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