Before we kick off our Best of the Best 2007 picks, I thought I'd squeeze in a dish. I haven't done a lot of those lately, and I sure do apologize, but things have not been smooth sailing in my neck of the woods lately, but they seem to be getting a bit better, and I should be around a lot more. Before I start in on the dish, let me just remind everyone that there is still time to enter our contest. Like last year, both dee and I have picked our Top Three Picks out of the books we've dished this year, and one lucky winner will receive a copy of each book. Most will probably even be signed by their author! So click here to enter, all you need to do is tell us your Top Books read in 2007 for your chance to win. There are ways to get extra entries, so be sure to read the entire post!
I also want to give a nod to AuthorIsland.com who sent me this book I'm getting ready to dish (along with a ton of other goodies - Thanks DeNita! You so rock!). Not only did they send me a copy, she sent it to me signed! How cool is that? If you're interested in contests, chats with authors, more cool contests, news, and (did I mention contests?) head over to the Island, you won't be sorry.
And now, without further ado...
Servant: The Awakening by L.L. Foster
ANGEL OF NO MERCY
To most people, demons look like regular citizens. But Gabrielle Cody has the ability to see these creatures as they really are - and the responsibility to destroy them. Hers is a special purpose, a divine obligation, and a heavy burden.
Detective Luther Cross finds himself attracted to Gaby even as he becomes suspicious of her proximity to a murder victim. Despite his mistrust, he tries to offer her a tenderness she's never experienced and doesn't dare accept.
For Gaby senses that another malevolent presence is watching her...stalking her. As desperately as she tries, Gaby cannot find the source of this menace. But again and again, she is drawn to an abandoned hospital that is surrounded by an aura of sickness and suffering and something more - an unimaginable evil...
I really have no comment on this BCC other than to say it was OK. You know, the whole over-use of the "..." irritates me a lot but for the most part, the BCC does a good job.
For those of you that did not know, L.L. Foster is Lori Foster. However, since Servant is not the typical book you would expect to see from Lori, she's decided to use L.L. so as not to confuse her Romance readers. The use of a pen name is becoming quite common anymore when an author has already established themselves in one genre and they want to try something new. Authors become known and their books sought out because readers expect a certain type of book when reading that author, and for those readers that do not follow closely online to the author and what's going on, to pick up a book like Servant and expect it to be a typical Lori book would probably feel like a betrayal.
I'll be honest and say that while I used to LOVE Lori Foster, I couldn't even finish her book Simon Says. I tried, believe me, I really tried, because I adored Jude's Law and the other books from the SBC world, but SS was just not up to what I have become to think of as Foster's par, that's not to say I was ready to give up on her, but I was becoming wary. So to say I was both excited and nervous about Fosters latest venture would be putting it mildly. Doubly so because not only do I love me a good Paranormal, but because I just didn't want to lose one of my favorite authors, ya know?
Gaby Cody has a calling - to rid the Earth of the demons that pass for human everyday. When God sees a need, he sends her to do the job of destroying the evil. That call comes in the form of intense pain, increased senses, and the ability to see the evil for what it truly is, not the outer package that it presents to the world every day. Gaby can see auras for people, places, and things. She's tough, she's a loner, and she needs it that way. In order to survive in the normal world, Gaby makes her money by writing and illustrating graphic novels, based entirely on her life and her calling, that she anonymously sends to her landlord Morty to sell in his comic book store.
Morty, Gaby's landlord is a lonely, pathetic dweeb who loves the comics he sells and seems to have a deep crush on Gaby. But, although she thinks he's pathetic, he feeds her now and again, and more importantly allows her the privacy she both wants and needs.
Detective Luther Cross, runs into Gaby on her twenty-first birthday as she is fending off drunk lowlifes while trying to get to her destination that God is calling her to. Gaby sees instantly his white aura, and cannot believe a person could actually be that good hearted. She doesn't trust it - or him. She doubly doesn't trust him when he touches her and the pain from the calling becomes lessened. Luther feels immediately drawn to Gaby, he can't understand the tough cookie and why she isn't giving any information to him, or why she's in such a hurry to get away from him.
The demon she had been sent to destroy turns out to be a misshapen man with tumors of some sort bulging all over his body, a scary sight to any ones eyes, but Gaby doesn't see the human form at first, all she sees is the evil hideous creature that has lurked in his body. When Gaby realizes that the "man" was about to assault a child, her temper flares, and not only does she destroy the monster she loses herself in the rage and mutilates his body.
The first on the scene, Luther Cross feels certain that the young woman with the bad temper had to be involved, but he has no idea why. Tracking her down, Luther tries to get more information from her, only to be eluded. When more deaths occur, Luther finds himself certain Gaby needs protected - but is it from herself or something else.
As the mystery unfolds, Gaby, begins to form friendships with both Luther and Morty, and the feelings she has for Luther border on more than friendship. Those feelings are tough to explore however, as Gaby discovers more and more of the horror that is unfolding. Some one is making these tumor riddled people, some one evil, and that some one is stalking her. Cancer turns out to be the underlying connection, and Gaby knows cancer intimately, and the only person she has ever before cared about lost his life to the disease.
It took me an entire week to read this book. If you've hung around here any time at all you know that's a long time for me. Generally I can read a book the length of Servant in less than 3 hours. That isn't to say the book was bad, however, I actually enjoyed it, but it wasn't an OMG I cannot put this down, page-turning book.
For starters, the beginning of the book reads at a very slow pace. I realize that setting a book up for series is tough. I also realize that Gaby is a complex character and has a lot of back story. But, it isn't until Chapter 10 that the book really begins to pick up pace and the ending is rushed making it almost unsatisfying. Until that point, there is more internal thought from Gaby than dialogue and too much description. I felt that the extra pages would have been better served as a meatier ending.
There were also some things that had me confused. One of which was how the heck did Luther know Gaby's name to even begin to track her down? He had never seen her before, she doesn't give him her name when they do run into each other that first time, yet he still ends up at her apartment.
And while I liked Gaby as a whole character, I felt the excessive use of bad language was a bit much. This is something I've noticed with Romance writers that try their hand at Paranormal Romance, they over use bad language. I have nothing against bad language in books, I do take offense, however, the more I see it in Paranormal Romance. The cussing is not a requirement for a good para read, but so many cross-over authors seem to feel that it is, that it feels more like a forced add in than how the character would normally talk.
Trust me, Gaby was plenty tough without the language, "I don't want to hurt you, but I can." She kept her tone even, calm, and filled with dead sobriety. "If you don't play fair, I'll show you the kind of pain you've never experience."
Gaby is complex, tough as nails, not afraid to kill if need be and does often when called, but she also has a heart, no matter how tough she tries to keep it hidden and protected. I enjoyed watching as Luther and Morty crept their way into that heart, and how the circle of friendship and love began to develop.
I can, and will suggest this book be one to read. I won't re-read it, but I'll definitely be buying the next in the series and hope to see several more. It's a dark and twisted tale, but it has Romance, and a good solid cast. I do hope that Foster doesn't continue on with the cancer angle as it felt forced and unbelievable.