Friday, April 17, 2009

Seraphim by Shelby Reed

Title: Seraphim
Author: Shelby Reed

Type: Paranormal Romance
Published: 2005

Blurb: When a masked group claiming to be warrior angels kidnaps Gia Rossi, she believes it's retaliation for her wealthy husband's shady dealings. Squired into a high-tech underground world by her strangely gentle captors and placed under the tutelage of Joachim, their handsome leader, she soon learns that among her lost childhood treasures is a medallion, which places the fate of the world in her hands. Gia's job is simple: locate the relic and lead the angels to it…and somehow, fight the forbidden attraction that fast develops between her and Joachim.

As commander of the angelic warriors, Joachim must protect Gia and, with her help, locate the sacred relics needed to conquer the demon Therides. But Joachim doesn't count on falling prey to sexual attraction when it comes to their beautiful, headstrong captive and soon another battle commences, one between consuming desire for his charge and a weighty sense of celestial duty. For if Joachim and Gia succumb to the fire smoldering between them, it could prove to be the end of both their worlds.

Why: Years back, I read Reed's Midnight Rose and fell instantly in love with her stunning prose. A friend shared her backlist with me and I just now managed to pull one out and read it.

Thoughts: Wow. The kind of Wow that makes you want to take out an advertisement on behalf of this author. Or storm some publisher's office, demanding she be given her due. Or ring up the author herself and insist she come of out hiding.

Seriously, Reed's prose is more beautiful than any other I've ever read. And, she crafts a story as elegant and moving as the words she uses to tell it. It's a win-win. Fucking fabulous. Fucking flawless. I could go on.

The blurb is dead on, but I will note, for the record, that the romance felt expertly balanced against the higher purpose in the story. I was equally moved by both. Also for the record, Seraphim is labeled as erotic romance. And to be entirely honest with myself, there is a good deal of the physical in here. However, be it through Reed's elegant prose or the emotional connection she forges, these scenes read unlike any other. They are breathtaking, both in tension and repercussion.

There is also a plot--one that pits good against evil in near military-like opposition, with all events leading up to a final confrontation. That being said however, my recollection of Seraphim is entirely of the personal conflict--within and between hero and heroine. Reed deftly breaks Joachim's stoic with passion and breath; and challenges a selfish Gia with joy and humility. A painful contrast that reflected the overarching nature of their conflict.

Joachim is an angel, guardian to Gia. To save her soul, his mission requires him to live as a human. But as he succumbs to the desires of his human body, both Gia and reader ache for him. For his loss. We're selfish in our desire for him, but honest about its cost. The choice between taking his place in the realm of God or spending a human lifetime with Gia is an impossible one. It grows more impossible, more gut-wrenching when he, Gia and the reader realize he is in love with her--a far more potent emotion to him than his Christian love for her.

Reverse the order of this journey and you see Gia's conflict. A selfish survivor, she is now charged with saving humankind--risking her life for all. There is little depth to her in the beginning, and despite her chosen status, even the angels have second thoughts about their ability to tap her goodness. At the personal, H/H level, her initial contempt, soon replaced by lust, for Joachim also cast little hope for her redemption. Amazingly, it his patience--namely his patient (Christian) love--that ultimately penetrates, that equips her to choose right and selfless over wrong. It starts slow, her emotional thawing, but when it's done, it is as painful as Joachim's struggle. Like his, it is painful in its impossibility. She knows joy; she knows humility; she knows she must accept Joachim's place in God's realm, what it means to him. But she also knows a deeper love--for him--than she has ever known.

And none of it--for either one of them--can be reconciled. That is the crux of what drew me here. I need an HEA, expect one. But nothing moves me more, nothing captures my attention more than the impossibility of one. Contrary, I know. The inevitability of an HEA aside, I like being pulled unerringly toward an ending I cannot predict, an ending I may fear or one that make not make me happy. Reed's obstacles were that powerful--and they kept me immersed in Joachim and Gia's story.

Reed's characterization is equally riveting. By the time Joachim and Gia realized the depth of their love, they were real enough to me that I shed tears for them--I experienced the same overwhelming powerlessness and desperation in the face of their impossible love. The same self-righteous denial and subsequent guilt. And the same disquiet, when it was all over and he was gone. Again, Reed held my focus to within inches of these two, letting their circumstances and their peers move around me, getting the rest of it done. It is their emotional journey--individually and together--that I remember most.

Around them, Reed did succeed in staging that battle between God's angels and Satan's demons. Her villains--the demon and his army--were vile and thankfully absent for much of the book. Her angels however--those supporting secondary characters--were fully developed, telling individuals, used magnificently by Reed to show us more, tells us more about Joachim and Gia. Seamless.

There is also some world-building, insomuch as Reed has to explain her angels and demons, but it is handled with enough truths from religious history that it doesn't feel like work. Or fantasy. In fact, in an almost bizarre piece of timing, I read this book during Holy week--significant only because the relic required to defeat Satan (in Reed's plot) is the sword used to pierce Christ's side following his crucifixion. So some emotional overlap for me there. Not enough though, to color my view of the book.

Overall, very much like Midnight Rose, this book swept me away.

Although published through Ellora's Cave in 2005, I believe it can still be purchased here.


  1. I lovelovelove Shelby's books. I agree 100% with everything that you say about her writing. How have I not read this one?

  2. I have to agree with you. Shelby's the kind of writer you read and go back to again and again just to savor the experience.

    I wonder though:

    A friend shared her backlist with me and I just now managed to pull one out and read it.Did your friend bother to erase the extra copies from her library when she 'passed' them along to you?

    This is the kind of review that makes all the pain that goes into creating a beautiful piece of work worth while. I'm sure Shelby will be thrilled to read it. But, if you really want to encourage her to come out of hiding, you might consider actually buying her work.

  3. I encourage readers to seek Shelby's work and buy her books. Her writing wraps around me like a warm, fuzzy blanket, soft enough to wipe tears. And there will be tears.

  4. Jennifer,

    I don't even know what to say. I keep looking for a way to email you off the board, but I don't see a link! Will you send me your address?

    Thank you, dear one. And I mean that in myriad ways.

  5. Ali,

    A book sale is always appreciated, but this kind of review is by far the most wonderful way to garner new readers and more sales. For that, and for making me feel so honored, I am eternally grateful to Jennifer.

  6. Oh man, I love Shelby's writing. I'm proud to say I own her entire library and am keeping the rest of the shelf bare in anticipation of her new stuff!

    Great article, Jennifer.

    May you find many more readers, Ms. Reed! You deserve the accolades.


  7. I wonder though:

    A friend shared her backlist with me and I just now managed to pull one out and read it.Did your friend bother to erase the extra copies from her library when she 'passed' them along to you?
    I shared my backlist of TITLES, Ali. I didn't share the actual book. I suppose you can read that as I passed the book to Jennifer, but that'd be incorrect. Sorry for any confusion.

  8. Jennifer--another lovely review of a fabulous book by the dynamic Shelby Reed. Your words--beautiful. Why aren't you a writer again? *GRIN* Love you, Jen.

  9. Sorry, Ann, if I jumped to conclusions. I think it was the 'I pulled one out...' that shocked me.

    Admittedly, I'm a little outspoken about paying for intellectual properties, but I really don't want to turn into a copywrite nazi.

  10. Jennifer, wonderful review! I have this book, picked it up a few months ago. I must read it soon. I have heard Ms. Leslie Ann Dennis speak very highly of Ms. Reeds writing.

  11. Lori - I have her backlist, LOL, and I just got to it. We need a blogger contest--an award for those with the oldest titles in their TBR stacks or lists. I'd...uhh, win. Hands down.

    Ali - "...savor the experience." THAT is it exactly. I enjoy Shelby's words as much as the story. And your poke to purchase was taken exactly as it was intended--a gentle reminder of the right thing.

    Sandra - "...there will be tears." Oh yeah. The silent ones, that just stream down your face.

    Shelby - Always, your words always do this to me. The published and unpublished. I will be making my way through your backlist and look forward to the emotional journey. Thank YOU!

    Leslie - Always nice to meet more of Shelby's fans!

    Amy C - Listen to Leslie! LOL

    Anne - Love you Miss! And I DO write, LOL. G's blog, here and on the job (although that is dull stuff). You and Shelby both know why I can't write romance--I've no stories. Doh.

  12. Wow what a glowing review! I am looking this one right now. Thank you!

  13. Tracy - I'd recommend (insist) on either of the Reed books reviewed here. This one for Seraphim and another for Midnight Rose (



Have you read it? What do you think?

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