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Sunday, April 20, 2008:
"Fallen" by Erin McCarthy (2008) - review

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Jove (April 29, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0515144622
ISBN-13: 978-0515144628

New Orleans, 1880s. Sent to watch over the decadent city, the angel Gabriel loses himself in the liquid pleasure of absinthe. So when his mistress, Anne, is murdered—and all evidence points to him— a foggy Gabriel cannot be sure he didn't do it. His penance: to be forever denied love. Should he seek pleasure with a woman, she'll know the depths of despair.

New Orleans, today. Hoping to unlock that unsolved mystery, forensic scientist Sara Michaels, Anne's great-great-granddaughter, meets the ageless, tormented Gabriel. To work together would mean suppressing their mutual attraction—he can't allow himself to touch Sara, for her own sake.

And for Sara, already familiar with the dangers of addiction, Gabriel poses the ultimate threat to her self-control. But can the desire burning between them turn into their salvation—or lead them both to destruction?

This is the second book in Erin McCarthy's Seven Deadly Sins series, the first being "My Immortal, which was all about lust. I enjoyed that book very much. This about is about gluttony, or a better word would be addiction.

Gabriel St. John is immortal, now a fallen angel, and while on earth in 1849 New Orleans, he is known as John Thiroux. Driven by the endless pain and human suffering he has seen as a Watcher, Gabriel seeks to drown himself and dull his senses to make it easier to bear. As John, he is highly addicted to absinthe, a.k.a. the Green Fairy (for its green color and hallucinogenic properties), and while on a visit to see his mistress, Anne Donovan, is eagerly looking forward to the calming, cloudy effects of his favorite drink.

While with Anne, he can comfortably let himself just "be", watching as she pours the spirit for him, using a special spoon to lace it with sugar and water. Tonight though, he mixes his own drink, and combined with the equally seductive effects of opium, loses himself in a languorous ecstasy that is heightened while Anne pleasures his body. He sinks down into oblivion, blissfully embracing the darkness...

Later, though he's not sure how much so, he awakens, sees from his vantage point that Anne is asleep in her bed, and through the moonlight, is captured by his lover in repose, and feels compelled to draw her in that moment. Moving closer to the bed, he slips and falls on something wet. Looking once again at Anne, he realizes she's dead. Murdered. All while he was passed out in a drugged slumber.

Modern day Florida. Sara Michaels is reeling from the horrible death of her mother a year ago. She couldn't take living there any longer, and when she is contacted by writer Gabriel St. John who is "investigating" a murder similar to her mother's, she decides to go to New Orleans, helplessly seeking answers though she suspects she may never really find them. While her background as a forensic scientist will be useful to decipher clues, the emotional impact from her mother's death has clouded her judgment, her career, her life. She's just looking for a way to stop the pain.

Over 150 years later, Gabriel still has no idea how Anne died. Over the last several years he's written books based on real life murders, and this time, he hopes the similarities between Anne's death and Jessie Michael's will reveal what happened all those years ago. Sober and abstinent, Gabriel has turned from the art and music he loved so much, and devotes his time to his books. It's his penance for what happened to Anne. He has no idea that Sara is the great-great granddaughter of Anne Donovan, or that he would be so attracted to her. This can't be good. Gabriel knows he has to stay far away from Sara, to not touch her, or otherwise she too will be lost...

Once again Erin brings us back to New Orleans, this time into the lives of two very sensitive caring people with addictive personalities. Part of Gabriel's suffering is knowing that any woman he touches will be addicted to him, craving him much as he's ever craved absinthe, so he now stays away from any human contact. Sara Michaels suffered greatly from her mother's death, and lost herself to the numbness of painkillers before she realized she really did not want to die. Together her and Gabriel work side by side, trying to solve two brutal murders, all the while feeling a strong attraction but not acting on it, and Sara can't figure out why. She is hurt by Gabriel's rejection because she knows, now, he feels it as strongly as she does.

But he cannot share with her who he really is, or why they cannot be together. His only hope is that he can manage to keep away from her, and finally give her some closure from her mother's death as much as he hopes to finally discover what happened to Anne. Then he goes and messes things up by falling in love with her, which makes it even more difficult to keep away from Sara. But that is not the only thing he's worried about, because it soon becomes evident that someone is trying to hurt Sara, possibly even kill her. It's only when he realizes how much she's come to mean to him that he risks his one chance of ever finding redemption to protect the woman he loves.

I enjoyed this book very much, though I would say "My Immortal" was my favorite of the two. Both Gabriel and Sara were lonely people who have each suffered through their addictions, and the fear and residual affects it leaves in its wake, never completely going away. Both have also suffered tragic loss, and keep away from getting too close to others. This I think was what made me like the first book better was that the characters here in "Fallen" felt a little too stilted and distant for me to really connect with them enough. I also felt that the real reason behind Anne's and Jessie's deaths and the one responsible weren't explored thoroughly enough to satisfy me. It felt a bit too hasty and abrupt, and I wanted to know more about those responsible.

That being said, I do love Erin's writing and was glad it wasn't "My Immortal" part 2, though I would have liked to have seen the main characters from that book a bit. I can't help it, it's one of my favorite things about a series. And here, it was wonderful to finally have two people who have been through so much and who are unhappy to finally heal on their own and find love with each other. It was lovely to see Gabriel embrace music and drawing again, and to see Sara lose her fear and begin to take back her life. These two were perfect for each other, and the ending was just how it should have been. And I'm curious now, about the 3rd book in the series, "The Taking". It's already on my tbb list.

Rating: **** out of *****

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  1. I need this book! I love Erin's writing from comedy to dark romance.
    Nice review Stacy ;)

  2. Great review

    Love Erin's Books
    LOve Erins writing.
    Can't wait to get my hands on this one!

  3. I love her writing and have had My Immortal in my tbr pile for a while but have not read it yet. I need to move it up. I LOVE the cover for this one.

  4. Erin writes hot, sexy and funny books, but she can also tug at your heartstrings with her dark side. I love seeing all you fellow Erin fans :)

  5. I haven't started this series but I liked the couple of contemps I read by McCarthy.

  6. What an excellent review, Stacy! I'm reading this one now and it is especially good! I love everything Erin does.

    How many days until I can get my hands on you?? lol

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