Monday, May 30, 2016

ARC Review: Dirty Angel by Barbara Elsborg

Dirty Angel
Dying Sucks

Particularly when you discover there really is a hell. Aden thinks there’s no way he can avoid going down, but when an angel and demon can’t agree over his fate, Aden is given one more month to gain redemption. He doubts he can find a way to become a better man in so short a time. But it’s worth a try, right?

Living sucks

Particularly when you can’t shake free of an obsessive ex. Brody might be managing to hold down his job as a vet, but his personal life is a mess. If he doesn’t pull himself together soon, he’s going to be sliding downhill too fast to stop.

One wet night, on a dark country lane, two worlds collide and destinies change forever.

Jewel's rating:

​When I started Dirty Angel, I wasn't sure I was going to like it. Even though I love this type of story, neither MC was particularly likable​.​ Aden came off as selfish and uncaring of anyone else, and Brody seemed rather ​whiny and ​pathetic - so I was concerned. I needn't have worried, though, I liked them both, soon enough.

The story was such a neat concept -- a young man has died​, unexpectedly,​ and when it comes time for Judgement...things aren't so clear. Should he be Heaven bound? Hell bound? Hmmm...Seems our Aden is a bit of a bad boy...with a dash or two of good thrown in there for good measure. But what you see can sometimes be deceiving. Aden has spent his life - his entire life - just trying to survive. No one else cared about him, so he he did what he had to​ in order to survive​. Coming into adulthood, those learned responses were all he had, so he continued using them​, all the while, not letting himself get too attached to anyone or really even care about anyone​.

Brody is a successful young veterinarian in hiding from an ex (Matt) who does not seem to know the meaning of "no" or "stop". Matt is not a good guy, at all. He began a relationship with Brody when Brody was only 14 -- Matt was one of Brody's teachers. Yeah... ​But Brody has the classic victim mentality where he blames himself for Matt's actions and also believes that ​Matt loves him. And because of Matt's grooming, Brody believes that violent sex is what he deserves, no matter if he wants it or not, so he is on a self destructive path that is bound to put him in hospital​ - or worse -​ if he keeps on.

So, Dirty Angel is not just about Aden realizing he can be better ​and then becoming a better man, but also Brody realizing he deserves better than what he has been given and striving for that better.​ Through the machinations of Raphael and Dante, the Angel and Demon in charge of Aden's fate, Aden​ collides with Brody...or the other way around. And from there, their fates are intertwined.

There is one thing that really bugged me, though -- I wasn't fond of the insinuation that non-believers are either morally bankrupt (Aden)​ or so emotionally messed up that they will let anyone abuse them​ (Brody)​. I'm going to assume and hope that this isn't what the author really intended. The story, as a whole, is about learning how to be a better person and figuring out how to be happy, and that's ​certainly ​a good message.​ And since the whole framework is a heaven and hell thing, ok, I'll forgive it. Mostly.

​I do think that Barbara Elsborg excels at fantasy heaven/hell stories and this one is a fantastic addition to her lineup! ​​​And for those that are wondering, Dirty Angel is not a part of the Unnamed London PNR series. Dirty Angel completely stands alone.​

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ARC of Dirty Angel generously provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.

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