Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Perfect Ten: FALLEN by Erin McCarthy

FALLEN – Erin McCarthy
A Perfect 10
Seven Deadly Sins Series, Book 2
ISBN: 978-0-515-14462-8
May 2008
Paranormal Romance
New Orleans, Louisiana – 1849

They said that John Thiroux (nee Gabriel St. John) killed her. In addition to his debilitating addiction to opium, absinthe, and liquor, what was one more sin, after all? Lady Macbeth’s famous line, “Out, out, damned spot” never seemed so palpable. As an immortal fallen angel, John has seen a lot and paid dearly for his transgressions. A Watcher, one who guards and protects mortals, John had a weakness for many things, and the soul of an artist. But on this night in 1849, he cannot remember if it was by his hands that the prostitute, Anne Donovan, died a tragic, painful death. The absinthe took his mind to its ultimate high and, mixed with the opium and liquor, time had faded into nothing. The next day he woke to find Anne slashed to death, the murder weapon, a Bowie knife, at the bedside.

Throughout the trial, and even after it, women swarmed to John’s side. Though it was punishment enough to walk the earth for eternity, it seems that whatever woman he touched, whether intimately or not, would become addicted to him. How ironic, to become addicted to an addict…

New Orleans, Louisiana – Present Day

Crime scene analyst Sara Michaels came to New Orleans hoping to get a new lease on life. During her brief stay in the Crescent City, she’ll be working with Gabriel St. John (nee John Thiroux), a crime writer, to investigate the 159-year-old murder of Anne Donovan. Sara did little more than escape from life since the murder of her own mother, Jessie Michaels. While Jessie’s thirty-year-old lover, also Sara’s friend Dr. Rafe Marino, was accused, tried and acquitted of Jessie’s death, Sara turned to prescription drugs in order to cope. Quickly realizing she was getting in over her head, she got the help she needed and left Naples, Florida for New Orleans.

A murderer may still be at large, but right now it’s all Sara can do to get through the day. She sincerely hopes that working with Gabriel will result in two things: solving Anne Donovan’s murder, and possibly her own mother’s as well since the two cases may be related. What Gabriel doesn’t know is that Sara is a direct descendant of Anne, and every generation since, one woman has been killed. Could Sara be next?

Gabriel has never left New Orleans, even after the grueling trial for Anne’s murder. It was an easy thing back then to disappear, adopting once again his real name of St. John. Since then, the trail has gone cold, and Anne’s death has never been solved. Gabriel would give his very life for assurance that he wasn’t responsible for the heinous murder of a woman he very possibly cared for. It was difficult back then to discern real emotion from those brought on by the drugs. But now that he’s straight and clean (seventy-five years and counting), Gabriel works hard at keeping his addiction under control. He controls it, it doesn’t own him anymore. Seeing the loss and emptiness in Sara’s eyes is like looking in a mirror of his past.

How ironic it is that two people from two very different backgrounds share a common pain and loneliness, and have been brought back to the root of both of their problems. FALLEN is both a journey and a description of just what Sara and Gabriel have done, lived through, and strive for in both of their lives. Gabriel would like to think he isn’t capable of hurting a human being, but what other explanation is there for Anne’s murder? Especially when he’d blacked out after imbibing too much absinthe only to wake up and find her dead? Gabriel plays Sherlock Holmes to Sara’s Gil Grissom in order to find Jessie Michael’s killer.

Normally I don’t slobber, gloss, and gush over books, but ….well, ok, yeah, I do. Sometimes. FALLEN is definitely one of those books worthy of some drool. Erin McCarthy captures the Gothic feel in modern day New Orleans and uses the setting to her benefit to characterize Gabriel. It’s hard to picture this tormented, yet sexy-as-hell fallen angel anywhere else. With the majority of the book focused on Sara and the oh-so-delicious Gabriel, the pace is ratcheted up even more when it becomes apparent that someone other than close friends knows where she is. Now it’s Gabriel’s turn to play hero and protect a woman he could very easily…fall for.

FALLEN is second in Erin McCarthy’s Seven Deadly Sins series and is truly an emotionally-driven novel layered with enough suspense to keep you flipping the pages. I fell in love with Damien in book one, MY IMMORTAL, and anxiously await the upcoming third installment, THE TAKING, of which there is a sneak peak in FALLEN. But right now I think my previous infatuation with Damien has been replaced with a healthy lust for Gabriel. Decisions, decisions, decisions…

In the meantime -- absolutely a Perfect 10 once again in my book; make sure FALLEN tops your list of early summer reads.

Amy Cunningham

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