March 22, 2011

Review: Surrender the Dark by L.A. Banks

Surrender the Dark
Author: L.A. Banks
Publisher: Pocket Books
Series: Angels Series, Book 1
ISBN: 1451607784
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Pre-Order Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Novel provided by the publish for a honest review

For more information please visit L.A. Banks' website.
Celeste Jackson has fought all her life against a fog of hallucination and substance abuse, but it's not until she meets her protector, Azrael, an angel who has left the safety of the Light, that she learns of the evil forces that have been trying to ruin her, and why.

A fierce battle for control of the mortal realm is brewing, and only Celeste—with the help of the Remnant, her half-human, half-angel brethren—can stand in the way. Together, Celeste and Azrael must gather an army of sensitives to defeat the dark powers that have ruled humanity for centuries, but time is running out.

If Azrael surrenders to his growing desire for Celeste, he risks being trapped among humanity forever. But the longer he stays, the harder she is to resist. To save the world, Celeste must draw on her own dark experiences with addiction to help Azrael overcome the one temptation that could possibly make him an eternal prisoner-his obsession with her.

Best selling author L.A. Banks' newest novel Surrender the Dark is the enthralling beginning to an angelic series with great themes focusing on good vs. evil and light versus dark. With characters that must rally themselves through blind faith, hope and selflessness this novel was both heart warming and thought evoking with never ending action and a smoldering romance that had me captivated late into the night.

The characters of this story are unique and amazingly well developed complete with flaws and regrets that are easily relatable to readers. Dealing with things such as substance abuse, physical abuse, plight and self worth issues the main character Celeste is the epitome of hopelessness. And yet, despite her situation and in large part due to the appearance of a sexy warrior angel named Azrael, she manages to pull herself from the brink of suicide to accept her frightening and impossible destiny. Suffering from a potential mental illness, she often questions her own sanity about the situation she comes to find herself in and instead finds it necessary to rely on her belief in the Light and her heart, feeling the truth behind the insane story of Azrael's claim to be an Angel. Azreal himself is no less complex as his fall from the Light causes him to question his own faith as well as his convictions that conquering the Darkness is worth the potential of collateral damage. After becoming attached to Celeste, he comes to feel human emotions and realizes that the loss of even a single human life is tragic. Growing from an almost naive mindset, he comes to become a true warrior of the Light, his hope and faith tethered to Celeste's unflinching acceptance of her role as a Remnant, someone who will help influence the battle in favor of the Light. Yet, while the individually they are interesting and complex with an amazingly deep evolution arising from their journey, it is the growing romance between them that was the clincher for me.

From the beginning the potential for their romance is a simmering background noise, subtle yet the tension is unbelievably alluring. The almost instantaneous trust that grows between them, despite the impossibility of the truth, was instantly endearing. As the story progress the tension grows and the questioning nature of the characters makes for an interesting and intense build up as Azreal accepts the cost of falling to be with Celeste. Yet, Celeste's guilt over such an action was marvelously written, tinting every action and thought with unthinkable love and tenderness. As the pace becomes more immediate, so too does the connection between these two characters and the journey they take together is one that is impossible not to be drawn into.

And I also feel the need to mention the secondary characters within the novel. All have a nicely developed history with individual histories full of pain, loss, regrets and flaws. Each of them serves to play a part in the on going war between the Light and the Darkness and yet they all suffer from flagging faith and a severe lack of faith making most of these rogue angels a hairs breadth from being Fallen. The amazing stories that these characters have make you crave to get to know them better, and even in their brief stints, I came to care quite a bit for them and look forward to seeing what happens to them in future novels.

The world this novel takes place in was also quite enthralling. Nicely developed with lush details and vivid atmospheres, Banks' has an unprecedented knack of drawing you into the story making you see the world through the eyes of her intuitive characters. With a great sense of spirituality that is practical and touching, the thought evoking messages within the novel definitely make one consider the benefits of simple random acts of kindness and their effect on those around us. Putting a lot of her own heart felt beliefs about Light and Darkness and their effects on economical and sociological issues, Banks' definitely creates a novel that speaks to its readers encouraging love, faith and hope within one's life.

Like other novels written by Banks' the writing is superb, perfectly catching the pitch and slang of the regions in which she sets the novel. Flowing writing makes it easily accessible and highly engaging creating an amazing emotional and spiritual quality that makes reading this novel not only a journey but an experience.

In fact, the only thing that I found 'wrong' in this novel was the climax. Wonderfully written and masterful, the epic battle lives up to everything readers have come to expect from an L.A. Banks novel. However, in this particular case it felt a bit rushed with chaos erupting all over the place. Subsequently, we are propelled from one scene to the next with a mind boggling lack of transition and fluidity. It was like seeing a highlight reel of the battle that after the amazing journey felt completely at odds with the rest of the novel, but it was only a slight disappointment considering the rest of this wonderful book.

In the end, this novel was touching, heart warming, deep, thought evoking and awe inspiring with a great romance and journey that draws you into the world and the characters that reside within it. This is definitely one novel that I highly recommend to fans of Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy. I can't wait for the next wonderful installment!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Some Sexual Content

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