Thursday, March 31, 2011

Review: Vowed in Shadows

VOWED IN SHADOWS (Marked Souls #3)
Jessa Slade
Paranormal Romance
368 pages
New American Library/Penguin
Available April 5th
Received from author for review

Jonah Walker and his brethren are possessed by demons. Repentant demons granted, but demons nonetheless. Their possessions have granted them increased fighting ability and supernatural healing–vital aids in their war against the variety of evil beings who have no desire to make amends for their past actions.

Since losing his wife decades ago, Jonah has been alone despite being surrounded by his brothers in arms. The steadily increasing intensity of the war he and his brothers are fighting isn't the only change taking place as one by one his comrades are finding mates–women who are also demon possessed–leaving the pair stronger and more efficient together than they were separately. When he gets the extra sense that precedes the finding of one's mate, Jonah has no choice but to seek her out.

Nim, exotic dancer extraordinaire, has kept a careful eye on the man who's been watching her during her shift for the past week. And when he finally approaches her, he changes her entire life by revealing a world she could have never expected. Now, with the knowledge a soul-deep weakness allowed a demon to take possession of her, she must learn to fight an insurmountable evil while also struggling with an attraction that seems equally impossible.

Vowed in Shadows, third in the Marked Souls series, is a story of intensity and complexity, its pages home to a dark world where demons run rampant–some seeking to harm and others to repent–but all coming together in a gripping battle revealed to us chapter by chapter. Fighting what seems to be a losing battle is a set of characters who are intriguing in their circumstances, their possession by demons who wish to make amends a conceptually fascinating idea, and their relationships to one another are both humorous and sobering. Their distinct personalities often clash and result in witty banter, but the seriousness of their mission and the reality of their demon-ridden lives always lurks beneath the levity of their vocal interactions. Ms. Slade has written a story infinitely creative and mesmerizing in its beautiful grimness, each book a bit stronger than the one before as the unusualness of the world settles in and the strength of the characters comes to the forefront.

Heroine Nim exudes confidence and sensuality, her naked body often used as a weapon to distract men from seeing the emotional scarring that pulses beneath a thin layer of flesh. She has a sharp tongue and a quick wit, frequently putting people in their places before they have the opportunity to make an attempt at breaching the armor she wears like a second skin. While her mouth is a constant source of amusement, her continued denial of Jonah's affection for her is a bit frustrating as she proceeds to clutch to the familiarity of lust as opposed to a true and honest connection. Though her resistance is certainly understandable in the beginning as her life is completely ripped from under her without her conscious knowledge, it becomes a bit grating when Jonah ventures to make his feelings known yet she refuses to let even his deepest sentiments pierce that well-polished and seemingly metal-plated exterior.

Jonah seems to be a man of dual natures, his previous life of dedicated missionary work alongside his wife in fairly direct contrast to the life of a man possessed by a demon and fighting demonic entities on a daily basis. His resolute determination not to be entertained by Nim's many charms is satisfying, and reading as she sweetly corrupts him bit by bit with a sexual tension that positively sparks between them is no hardship. We can't help but wish his communication with Nim might be a bit more open though, his expression of feelings for her often done so only internally through a personal monologue as opposed to externally where he might actually be able to more thoroughly convince her of the veracity of his statements. While he does eventually own his emotions and admit them aloud, so much of the time they spend arguing or in weighted silence might have been avoided if honesty and openness played a bigger role in an otherwise enjoyable romantic pairing.

It should be known that Ms. Slade's world is extremely complicated, and while things are a bit clearer in this third book, the first in the series is weighed down with a significant number of unfamiliar terms and complex differentiations between evil demons, repentant demons, and all the specific types of each on either side of the war. Even in Vowed in Shadows, where terms are no longer quite as burdensome, the extensive descriptions of fantastical creatures at times can be overwhelming, our minds stuttering and struggling to create an image of what's being described but often failing to do so. Her impressive characterization keeps the story from being lost in an unknown darkness though, and I look forward to whatever the future holds for these fighters.

Rating: 3.5/5


  1. How in the heck did I miss this series???? Sometimes I think I have been living under a rock! LOL. This review was awesome, and I must say the concept of the series is different from a lot of books in this genre. This series is definitely going on my list now!

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hmm...this sounds a little too adult for my tastes, but it's very interesting. I like the darkness. And it definitely sounds like the characters are varied and complex.

  3. Never heard of this series before. Although I am not sure if it is my kind of book. I like my adult PNR to be fun and smexy and not complex. Great review as usual Jenny :)

  4. My first introduction to this series and while I do read some adult books (few) this one does not appeal to me. Still it sounds intriguing. A great review though!

  5. There are so many PNR series that I am completely unaware of. I am not very experienced in this genre, so I am glad that I get to know of good PNR thanks to bloggers :)

  6. Carissa - I actually missed it too until the author contacted me - she is super nice:) The first one was a little confusing, but I once the world made a little more sense, I really enjoyed the story:)

    Alison - Love the characters in this one:)

    Nic - These books are definitely smexy, but also very complicated. Once I sorted through all the terminology, it was easy to get wrapped up in the characters.

    Jan - Definitely intriguing, one of my favorite characters doesn't have a book yet, so I'm hoping he's next and I'm looking forward to that:)

    Misha - I was unfamiliar too, but I'm glad I'm aware now:)

  7. I have the first two on my shelf just waiting to be read! Good to know the series is a good read at book 3, it makes me excited to have it on my shelf!

  8. Hmmmm... Since I started laughing more and more as I read the synopsis I don't think that this is the type of book for me (I think I am still way too innocent/ awkward for PNR... Gosh, I can barely watch the Twilight movies without feeling awkward... ;) ).
    But thanks for the great review Jenny!

  9. I love this blog because I DEVOUR these adult series within a week of starting them, and I am always needing new ones to move onto! I have to say though, there has always been something about demon-based series that have given me the heebie-jeebies - it's the knee-jerk reaction Catholic school girl in me. I always test out the first one, though, so thanks for the great review, Jenny!

  10. Call me Misha Jr. because I'm so behind of my PNR/UF series, and there are many I haven't ever heard of. :(

    But looky at that cover! It looks like an inferno. Being a fan of witty banter and character who can hold their own in a complex world, this series definitely seems like one I'd love to get lost in. Thanks Jenny!

  11. Felicia - Looking forward to seeing what you think of them:)

    Avery - You're too funny:) I'm a huge PNR fan, and this one is a little like Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series with the demon possession, but the worlds are very different. Maybe you can work your way up to these...;)

    Linds - The demon possession in this one was interesting, the demon's are repentant and the humans retain all their own thoughts and feelings, they just have heightened capabilities and can feel the demon rise and take over in fighting situations. Normally I don't deal well with anything relating to demon possession - movies like The Exorcist scare the wits out of me, but this possession has a different feel:)

    Missie - I was out of the loop on this one too and Jessa was nice enough to send me both this book and the first two so I was able to get caught up:)

  12. I never heard of this series before! I think I will definitely look into this because the characters sound so intriguing. It might help my withdrawals while I wait for the latest release of my favorite adult paranormal reads.

  13. I really don't know whether I'll ever enjoy adult paranormal romances but I'll never know for sure unless I give it a go myself. Like Avery, I totally started giggling when I read the synopsis and your review. Even though I'm an adult, I think I may be too young at heart for these types of stories. One day maybe I'll grow up :)

  14. It's been so long since I've read a PNR book so there's lots of series that I'm not familiar with. I do enjoy getting sucked into a complex world and this series seems to have just that.

  15. Maybe a little too adult... Like Aylee I'm very young at heart. And I hope I don't grow up! ;)
    But brilliant review!

    Yeah, it is good to know that Olympia worries more about noice that about the boy. The boy's ok though. Hopefully. (:

    Thanks for your comment!

  16. Rummanah - That seems to be the general consensus today, so glad I could help spread the word a little!

    Aylee - They're not for everyone, but I need them as a break from all the teen drama of YA lit. I love YA (obviously), but I love my PNR too:) Maybe you'll give one or two a try in the future!

    Jenny - Definitely a complex world, but the characters kept me grounded when the paranormal element took over which was nice:)

    BookAddicted - Thanks!

  17. Thanks so much, Jenny, for reading the books and for the thoughtful review. My critique partner will look at parts of this and say "See? See! I told ya so!" ;)

    Carissa, the words "This is going on my list" make authors dance around in little circles like over-caffeinated chihuahuas. I hope you enjoy the world!

    Alison, I consider myself VERY adult. Um, except when it comes to Easter candy. Then not so much. Also, Christmas cookies. Very not adult then. Forget adult behavior around Halloween candy too. Okay, scratch the adult thing entirely. I tried.

    Nic, if you like fun PNR, have you tried Shelly Laurenston? Some people have missed her books and they are definitely fun and smexy.

  18. Jan, an intriguing review can sneakily suck in reluctant readers. It's all a dastardly plot on our part!

    Misha, the PNR world is soooo expansive. It's easy to get lost in it. Which is a good thing :)

    Felicia, the only thing that makes an author happier than "I should get this book" is "I HAVE this book"! Hope you like them.

    Avery, if you read enough PNR you won't be innocent anymore! Though despite my jaded experience, I have to admit there are some stories that still make me blush. I save those for, ahem, special occasions.

  19. Brouhaha, I was raised Catholic too; that's WHY I write demons! But you make an interesting point. I have a friend, raised firmly Christian, who considers herself pagan now, but couldn't read Anne Bishop's Jewels books because she couldn't get past the fact that Satan was a good guy. We definitely all come to our reading with past experiences which inform our preferences.

    Missie, despite the ridiculous tower of books in my TBR pile, I'm behind too. I read so much SFF as a kid, longing for more romance in those stories, and now there is just an endless richness of choices. Kids these days have no idea how lucky they are! (Oh boy, I sound a million years old.)

  20. Rummanah, I would be honored to ease your withdrawal pains :) I admit, even though I know how hard it is to write, I have several authors I'd willingly chain to their desks so I could have more stories from them every year!

    Aylee, growing up is overrated ;)

    Jenny, there are so many awesome PNR series, you're sure to get sucked in. And maybe never come out again! Well, except for the occasional awesome historical or witty contemporary or lyrical fantasy or...

    BookAddicted, young at heart is a good place to be. Never lose that.

  21. This is probably a bit too adult for me, but I love the sound of the world within it! It's always hard for an author to balance extensive world building and terminology in order to ensure it isn't burdensome. It sounds like there's a good balance here. Fab review, Jenny :)

  22. Great review Jenny! I think it may be too adult for me as well, but I love the cover! The book does grab me about the world they live in. I like it when authors can really describe it well enough that you feel like you are actually in it.

  23. Oh is this one I can dip my toe in here or should I read book 1 first? You know it doesn't always matter to me. ;) This one sounds good and sometimes I like to be a bit overwhelmed with all different types of PN critters (via Avery). Usually means the characters are as good as you say! Thanks for the review.

  24. I had not heard of this series before... sounds interesting...

    Thanks for a great review Jenny!