Whilst Crave and Envy; the second and third books in the Fallen Angels are fabulous books, Rapture has surpassed them and is as brilliant as Covet; the series opener for three reasons.
The hero of this piece is none other than Matthias which was a surprise in itself. Without trying to spoil anything, he is Jim Heron’s old boss when they were both in the shadow-y XOps organisation and was established back in Covet as a slime ball replete with Jim’s nickname for him; Matthias the Fucker. During Crave, he was thoroughly loathed and definitely the villain of the piece even if what happened to him, whilst deserved, meant that that round went to hell. Literally.
And given what happened to Matthias in Crave, he’s returned in Rapture. So not only do we have an unexpected return but we also witness the journey of perhaps one of the most evil men into a hero and worthy of a woman’s love. And do you know what? J.R. Ward pulls it off amazingly well and without sacrificing his character, either. Granted, there is a large and literal deus ex machina but given that this series is about the war between heaven and hell, it’s entirely appropriate.
The second reason is the devil in the blue dress; Devina. The difference between an antagonist who just needs to be dealt with and a villain who you actually care about is in their character makeup. Going back to Matthias, he was just a bad guy to be hated and nothing more. Devina, however, a devil, if not the devil herself is seeing a human therapist to combat her OCD issues. She loves Jim Heron, her opponent in this war. She’s not just evil, she’s flawed and whilst it would be hell on earth if she won, you still can’t help but route for her and perhaps have her own HEA. Or perhaps that’s just me.
Finally, we come to the heroine; Mels Carmichael. None of the women in this series, or indeed, J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, have been shrinking violets but given that she is a black bet, has a licence to carry a concealed weapon and threatens to break Matthias’ legs should he try anything, she’s certainly a woman of steel. And given that she and Matthias are fated, she would have to be.
Another surprise about the series so far as a whole is that it has apparently taken place in a matter of weeks since the events started in Crave. Given what’s happened so far, it feels more like lifetimes have passed and even the characters reflect on what has happened in such a short space of time.
The only downside? With the war on an even footing with two all (yet another surprise), it’s going to be a long wait until we get to the next round.