Wicked Nights (Angels of the Dark #1), by Gena Showalter

wickednightscoverfinal[1]Heavenly Match between  Human and Angel

Wicked Nights is the first book in Gena Showalter’s Angels of the Dark, a spin off series from her fantastic Lords of the Underworld series. Gena writes hot paranormal romances with uber alpha heroes, snarky heroines and passionate and toe curling lovemaking scenes. The scorching cover of this novel certainly lives up to its promise!

In Wicked Nights, the brutal and emotionless angel, Zacharel, whom we met briefly in her LOTU series, is put in charge of a ragtag army of warrior angels. Zacharel’s deity  is frustrated with his lack of compassion and both he and his army have to work together as a team and above all refrain from killing humans in their war against the demons, or risk falling and losing their wings – not easy when you meet the less than angelic warrior recruits who all have mega issues! As part of their duties, Zacharel’s army are given the task of destroying demons attacking an institution for the criminally insane in the human realm.

The human Annabelle has been incarcerated there since being wrongly convicted of slaughtering her parents, her claim that they were murdered by a demon being dismissed. Since the attack, Annabelle has been tormented by other demons and is often heavily sedated to minimise her violent outbursts, in which she defends herself against demon attacks unseen by others. She has also suffered physical abuse from other inmates and wardens and  sexual abuse from one warden in particular.

During the attack, Zacharel is drawn to Annabelle. He becomes intrigued by her and takes her to his cloud, despite realising that she is in fact a demon’s consort. Things then get complicated as Zacharel’s frozen heart begins to melt and he starts to feel strong emotions for Annabelle, wanting to protect her. Annabelle in turn is attracted to her captor and decides to use the opportunity to learn from him how to fight demons.  However, it is not long before demons attack Zacharel’s cloud and Annabelle is put in danger. Yet what will happen when the demon high lord who has marked Annabelle as his consort decides to claim her? Will Zacharel and Annabelle consummate their relationship, when Annabelle struggles with deep seated fears of intimacy and trust? What long term future do they have when angels live for thousands of years, yet a human life is over in the blink of an eye? As usual Gena Showalter has plenty of tricks up her sleeve before the action packed plot concludes.

Zacharel, a truly tortured hero,  is a complex character, despising demons with a passion and for very good reasons. He is not only an alpha, but a VIRGIN to boot and has locked away his emotions since a personal tragedy devastated him and gave him major guilt issues. Annabelle is a strong heroine. She has somehow kept hold of her sanity, but is also deeply vulnerable due to the horrors she has endured. She will fight the demons and the demon high lord who wishes to claim her, even if it leads to her own demise.  She finds Zacharel attractive from the off, but is fearful due to her prior experiences.

I loved the developing romance between the couple in this book, which I felt was truly a match made in Heaven. The banter was both poignant and amusing and I enjoyed the fact that the hero, once his emotions had come to the fore, would do anything for his woman. I particularly enjoyed the fact that Zacharel finds himself wanting to bond with a woman who has been marked by a demon, a race he despises. The lovemaking scenes are both sweet and hot, as Zacharel strives to overcome Annabelle’s fears and assert his new found sexuality. Fortunately for a virgin he is a fast learner!

I enjoyed meeting the other angels of Zacharel’s army, who no doubt will each have their own story. I also welcomed the appearance of some of the characters from her Lords of the Underworld series. The demon foes are truly hideous and there are plenty of violent, gut spilling scenes full of blood and gore to keep readers entertained and to contrast with the romance. The author has done a great job of balancing the main story with the world building and the introduction of major characters to feature in subsequent books, which can be difficult in the first book in a series.

I am looking forward to reading the next book, Beauty Awakened, which tells the story of Koldo, one of Zacharel’s men, whom we are introduced to in this book. I recommend the series to lovers of steamy paranormal romance which is also full of humour, passion and action.

Reviewed by Tina

Gena Showalter’s website

Goodreads link to Wicked Nights reviews

Publisher Harlequin’s website

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