Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fallen Angel by Eden Winters

Title: Fallen Angel
Author: Eden Winters
Cover Artist: Alessia Brio
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: contemporary
Length: 212 pages

Ten years of rescuing lost youth from the streets wear a man out, and Noah Everett buckles under the pressure of being "The Angel." What began as a two-man mission is now going corporate, meaning rules, regulations and inexperienced volunteers needing guidance in a field Noah makes up as he goes along. On top of this, his latest prospective rescue doesn’t seem to go to plan. Is he losing his touch? Normally he’d turn to his mentor, Doc, in times of trouble, but the old man's strength isn't what it used to be. Noah’s lover would be the next most obvious choice to share this burden with, but Jeremy Kincaid is about to leave for college. After all Jeremy's endured to achieve this goal, Noah won’t stand in his way, even though he fears losing the man to the joys of student life.

Jeremy may be young and caught up in his own fights, but he's not blind to Noah’s plight, and now questions his own choices. Four years at State with a full ride will launch his future, but his present includes Noah--and a meth addict who’s become Jeremy’s own personal mission.

When a physical attack sends Noah spinning out of control, Jeremy must reevaluate his life and plans before the man he knows and loves disappears forever.

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For those of you who haven’t read Angel of Thirteenth Street, go fix that right now. Okay, you’re back? Good. Now we can talk, not so much because you need all the background in the first book as because it’s just that good and this follows on. Fallen Angel stands alone but is that much richer if you’ve read the first one.


Jeremy and Noah are several months into their relationship, and it’s unusual in that while Jeremy is of age, he’s still in high school—aging out of the foster system before he graduated (and before he met Noah), he’s had to scramble just to make it this far. It’s a triumph that not only is he turning his cap, but doing it with style, honors, and a scholarship that he’s busted his ass for. Should be happiness on a plate, right? Not so fast.

Noah also has what he’s worked so hard for—he’s got help rescuing the street kids and rent boys now, where before it was him and Doc, whose backstory is wrenching and entwined with Noah’s own. Helpers, donations, and resources fade into the background when all Noah can see is the young man who can reach out but not grab on to Noah’s offered hand. Noah can help the young men who will meet him halfway—the ones he gets out of “the life” become notches on his doorpost. The ones who don’t become notches on his heart, and they just might make him bleed to death.

This is a story of reevaluating—both partners have learning and growing to do, and reassessing of goals and their routes to those goals. The road is bumpy and full of dangers—Noah and Jeremy are sweet together, but that might not be enough when Noah turns inward after an attack. For all that he’s a dozen years older than Jeremy, sometimes he’s the less mature partner—sometimes he’s stuck in the past, and sometimes he’s afraid to move into the future.

There is plenty of plot, but the characters’ growth is the important part of the story. We find out a lot more of Noah’s past; there are a lot of flashbacks and references to the first book, but with much added detail and depth—it isn’t filler rehash. There just are a lot of flashbacks. Jeremy is the one who is truly moving forward in life, and for a while there, it seems like Noah won’t be able to go with him. It’s heartbreaking, in best Eden Winters style, and she does bring the sun back, but not before Doc, Jeremy, Lark the meth addict, and all the readers want to kick Noah’s butt.

This isn’t purely Noah and Jeremy’s story: Doc, Lark, and the rent boy, Chip, all have significant roles, both in their own arcs and as Noah and Jeremy’s friends. Sometimes their roles are the more interesting, some of Noah and Jeremy’s scenes, while happy and moving the story, are just a little too slice-of-life-y to maintain intense interest. But other scenes will yank you right out of your chair, or make you reach for your tissues. Sometimes both at once. Poor Chip.

A major issue with sequels is that the intense romantic question of “how will they get together” has already been answered. The problems shift to how do they stay together, certainly important, but the focus has to be different and the feel of the book is not the same. Fallen Angel addresses the ways these two very different men tackle the same problems, and the end will make you snuffle and smile all at once. 4.5 marbles

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