Angel Burn (Angel Trilogy Series #1)

Angel Burn  - L.A. Weatherly This book was so close to being good. I admit it, I have a love-hate relationship with the entire paranormal romance genre. I read the back covers of these things, find out what the plot is supposed to be, and hope -- always in vain -- that the book will actually be about that plot. I want to read that plot. This book almost delivered the plot that it promised in the summary.First off, I really did like the main character. Willow had some actual personality, she stood up for herself, she had agency and took as much control over her own life as she could. The events in this book being what they were, there wasn't much she could do to stop them, but she at least tried. She did what she could to say "Hey, I'm getting dragged into the middle of this, but I'm getting dragged on my own terms at least." We need more of that. And I liked the love interest as well. He was still bland, but he was a decent guy. Throughout the first part of the book, he did treat her badly, but we always knew that this was a product of circumstances and not how he thought women should be treated. And he changed in how he treated her. (Unlike pretty much every other PNR hero, who continue to act like a jackasses, but while making with the kisses, so it's all forgiven. Bleh.) So, I like him.I really love the villains in this. They make it quite clear that these 'angels' come from an alternate dimension, not quite 'heaven' as we think of it. And they heavily hint, without quite saying, that these are just supernatural beings that were mistaken for angels, and have nothing to do with God. In fact, the existence or non-existence of God is left up in the air, despite the creepy religion in this book. So that gets major kudos from me. Other than that, the angels are really just energy vampires, but...I don't care. Yes, they've been seen before, but Weatherly makes then just fresh enough that I still thoroughly enjoyed them. I especially loved the fate of their victims: left as mindless slaves, mentally broken, without any sense of autonomy or self, forever thinking that they've been blessed instead of cursed and 'willingly' going back for more. That is just far, far more creepy than any violence any other monster could do.So, we have a great main pair, a great bad guy, and even some really, honestly, truly decent romance in the first 100 pages or so, and then...it all falls apart. When the two leads finally admit their feelings for each other, the plot grinds to a halt for a month while they get mushy hide out. I'm not even kidding. The end of the world is on the line, they know about this deadline, they know that only Willow can stop it...and they hide in a cabin for a month playing house and gushing about how much they love each other. Yes, love, even though it's only been about a week before that and the relationship was moving at a nice, slow pace. Not only that, but when they do finally leave, it's not because they decide to go or because they figure out how to beat the angels. No, some brand new characters show up in the third act, plop down, and say "Here's an item that has never even been mentioned or any role in this book so far. I'm just going to hand it over to you and you're going to use it win the day." That's right, the solution to the main conflict is just handed over -- along with a full explanation about how it works -- without any effort being made on the part of the main characters. Lazy!The most frustrating thing about this book is that it feels like it was made to break the mold. The emotions in this book -- the ones that aren't romance -- feel very real and natural, and the relationships between the characters are sweet. The plot takes the forefront and is what moves the book along, and the romance doesn't overshadow it, but is still a major player, just the balance that I love. The things that make this book suck, the enormous chunks of "let's talk about our feelings and have fake sexual tension," feel like they were added in as an afterthought by an editor scared that a slow romance wouldn't sell. There's two of these chunks, and if you were to take them out, the book would be half as long and yet nothing would be missing. In fact, I'll offer it up as a challenge. Anyone who hasn't read this book yet: Skip pages 154-202, 316-329, and 335-350. That's about 75% of the time that the main characters spend sitting around talking about how much they're in love. Tell us if it impacted your ability to enjoy or understand the book at all. Don't worry, I left you a little bit of goopey mush.