This is only my second foray into angel-related lit, and I haven't particularly enjoyed either time. My first encounter was with Melissa de la Cruz's Blue Bloods series, which I was drawn to because it was supposedly about vampires - but they turned out to be more fallen angels who happened to drink blood. This time 'round, I was curious to read about the forbidden romance between an angel and a demon in Where Demons Fear To Tread. While it kept me turning the pages and I liked the characters and their romance overall, I found that I didn't really love it. I've been trying to figure out why that is, and I think that it comes down to the plot, and the angel aspect in particular.
Although Serena St. Clair is a "non-denominational" angel, the story by its very nature has religious overtones. Serena, the inherently good guardian angel, spends a lot of time fearing "falling" and being sent to hell, while Julian, an archdemon, muses over his own sins and contemplates the (im)possibility of redemption. Not being particularly religious myself (I'm agnostic, if anything), I found the focus on the "sinfulness" of one's actions (as opposed to just differentiating between right and wrong), and the threat of hell as the main deterrent for those actions, a little exasperating. This was especially the case with Serena and her concern that being with Julian would cost her Heaven (literally). I guess for me, personally, I don't buy into the whole sex is sinful thing. While this is addressed to some extent in the book, the majority of it is spent agonising over the fate of one soul or another, and it got quite tiresome.
As for the characters, I liked Serena and Julian well enough (though I felt Julian was the stronger of the two in terms of character development), but the secondary cast (and, by extension, the secondary plot) were rather weak. Nick, Serena's superstar assignee, seemed to have good looks going for him and not much else, making me wonder why he was even worthy of a guardian angel. Meanwhile, Luciana, the demon responsible for Julian's corruption, was hellbent (
no pun intended) on revenge on him for reasons that were never explained. Really, it should have been Julian who was after revenge, not Luciana, and so the whole driving force behind all the action made little sense.
Chong's writing was fine for the most part, but there were a few steamy scenes containing words (and one or two actions) that were a bit off-putting. Y'know, the kind of words that just make you go "ew", or "well, that's awkward", instead of "oooh yeah!". There was one scene in particular, that happened quite early on, where Julian sneaks into Serena's room while she's sleeping, and it almost made me stop reading. I mean, it was creepy when Edward Cullen did it, and all he did was sit there and watch Bella sleep. Julian is not one who just sits backs and watches, if you know what I mean. So it was a little too... well, rapey for my liking. Now, nothing major happens and maybe I'm being oversensitive, but touching somebody's body, without their consent, WHILE THEY'RE UNCONSCIOUS, is just not cool (or hot) in my books. That aside, I did enjoy Julian - and the book - but I don't think I'll be continuing with the series.
Spoilery Talking Points
- I felt Julian's turnaround from archdemon to angel happened way too quickly. I know the whole book is leading up to it, but it was almost like a switch was flicked and all of a sudden he was ready to be all divine instead of devilish without having to struggle at all. It made the ending overly sweet and a bit unbelievable.
- I have a theory that Arielle, Julian's first guardian angel, is actually his mother. I could be wrong, but the fact that she spent so much time trying to "save him", combined with the passing mention that his mother had been watching over him the whole time, makes me think Arielle had more invested in him than was explored in this book.
This is probably a sign that I watch way too much Chuck, but I pictured Yvonne Strahovski as Serena and Matt Bomer as Julian.
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Mira Books
Get It: Fishpond