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Review: Forgiven (#3)

The following review contains NO SPOILERS!

my thoughts in a few sentences: Jana Oliver must be a determined woman—dragging me back into this series after my dislike of Soul Thief and providing me with a crystal view of what I could've missed out on. When Forgiven arrived on my doorstep, I resolved to never read it. Slowly, the curiosity arisen by its sudden presence in my life developed an effect akin to an obnoxious acquaintance poking me between the shoulder blades incessantly. Has that ever happened to you? It's quite unpleasant. Eventually, I crumbled and began to read. Imagine my surprise, and eventual pulse-spiking excitement, when the third book served up a reminder as to why I enjoyed the first one so much. Oh, joy! The demon-battling, the perfect collision of the paranormal, and the romance I've been carrying a jumbo-sized, blazing torch for gives Forgiven the addictive edge lacking in its predecessor.

hooking first lines: "Riley Blackthorne's tears were no more. She'd cried herself dry, yet she still lingered in the arms of a dead man"

Rating: Sud-Kissed | St. Martin's Griffin • Unsolicited • Paranormal Romance • 3/27/12 • $9.23


Jana Oliver's third spellbinding Demon Trappers novel - following The Demon Trapper's Daughter and Soul Thief - brings all new thrills, as Riley Blackthorne takes on demons, love... and the future of the human race.

The days are growing darker for 17-year-old demon trapper Riley Blackthorne. With her father’s reanimated body back safely, Beck barely speaking to her because of a certain hunky Fallen angel, and a freshly-made deal with Lucifer, she has enough on her hands to last a normal teenage lifetime. Though she bargained with Heaven to save his life, her ex-boyfriend Simon has told the Vatican’s Demon Hunters that she’s working with Hell. So now she’s in hiding, at the top of everyone’s most-wanted list.

But it’s becoming clear that this is bigger than Riley, and rapidly getting out of control: something sinister is happening in Atlanta… or someone. The demons are working together for the first time ever and refusing to die, putting civilians in harm’s way. Riley thinks she might know who’s behind it all, but who’s going to believe her? Caught between her bargain with Heaven and her promise to Lucifer, Riley fears the final war is coming – and it may be closer than anyone thinks…
There are many reasons why Jana Oliver was, cleverly, able to draw me back after my disastrous feelings toward Soul Thief. Forgiven by Jana Oliver subtly re-introduces a world created to mirror our hellish fears for a future ailing in a rapid downward spiral, though including a literal hellish twist, and two main characters who never fail to brandish their courage, their strengths, are unable to hide their weaknesses, their flaws from our all-seeing eyes, and are nearly as stubborn as the person attempting to force the same sides of two magnets together. Like the magnets, it would seem Beck and Riley are constantly letting situations, themselves, or each other drive a large wedge between them, when they each hold the power to turn their magnets, so to speak, in a way that would allow them to fuse smoothly, peacefully and with no harm involved. Despite this dilemma, it's sometimes their stubbornness we admire, as it propels them to stand strong, to hold on and fight back when necessary. And a supernatural war with the capacity to incapacitate the existence of humans indefinitely looming in a shadowed horizon of torment and despair brings a sense of urgency, and, with it, a world of potent thrills!

Riley Blackthorne has been unmercifully beaten down, torn apart, and sown up sloppily yet she still manages to rise to the occasion, even when the sacrifices are high and sometimes dire, when the people she cares about seem to isolate her, when everything fate backhands her with poisons her strong will, and instead serves up this awesome picture of an often underestimated female demon trapper capable of so much more than most imagined. Respect is easy to give when its aimed at such a haunted, compassionate, kick-butt person, fighting for her own survival nearly as much as everyone else's. Knowing loss intimately, shoved into making very difficult choices, her scars make it easy to forgive her fresh, and occasionally self-inflicted, wounds shrouding the goodness so many have a hard time unearthing. Her choices are often genuine, perhaps misguided depending, and the consequences are realistic and painful and indicative of a world and characters as imperfect as our own, and, therefore, entirely relatable.

One can only take but so many romantic missteps, and it's easy to grow impatient with all the avoiding and misunderstanding done by each party. Forgiven, however, is a bit more bearable, mostly because the tension is scrumptious and we carry the knowledge that what we await between the two main characters is fast-approaching. Untwisted into their true forms, revelations are made and memories recalled and reevaluated to brighten their already morbid backdrop at a tortuously unhurried pace. Forgiven allows us to shout in triumph over our precious, keen instincts about these things and yet still manages to rip away some of the pleasure out of the exactness of our suspicions with an ending that we can nearly weep for, for pain and bittersweet almost-joy, as these two don't quite make it out of the woods.

Regardless, the satisfaction that springs in our calming hearts is wide and absolute. All the action, all the anticipation is still leading up to an unforeseeable outcome but allows us to enjoy the fast-paced journey in Forgiven, which definitely refrains from acting as a filler in between books. Our sincerest hope is pressing onward, hoping for the best, but mostly has to do with canceling the wait and owning the final chapter of Riley Blackthorne and Denver Beck's story to enjoy as thoroughly as Forgiven, if not more.


Sam @ Realm of Fiction said...

I love the Demon Trappers books and honestly can't wait to read this. Brilliant review, Asher! I'm glad to hear this book managed to draw you back in despite your not-so-great experience with Soul Thief. :)

Caitlin said...

I love this series a lot, I'm glad you liked this book more than Soul Thief. Totally agree with your analysis of Riley...cannot wait for the 4th book!!

The Cait Files

Erin W. said...

Great review! I didn't mind the first two books in the series but this third book really blew my mind . . . I loved it a lot!

Asher_Knight said...

I adored the first one, was disappointed by the second, but this one blew my socks off, setting everything right again. AHHH. Book four is soooo far away!!!

Asher_Knight said...

A lot of peeps would disagree with my feelings on Soul Thief, but there were just happenings in that one that I just couldn't dig no matter how much I tried. BUT. You should feel better because Forgiven is really great. I was so happy with just about every single thing that happened. 

Asher_Knight said...

 Riley Blackthorne is fabulous heroine. The right amount of tough, the right amount of troubled and vulnerable, imperfectly perfect. BOOK FOUR. When when WHEN will it get here?

Asher_Knight said...

Aw, thanks, Erin :) I'm so glad you enjoyed this last one!!! :D

Jana Oliver said...

Thank you so much for the in-depth review. I'm sad that SOUL THIEF didn't do it for you, but pleased to hear that FORGIVEN was more what you were hoping for. The fourth and final book should be out sometime (hopefully) in the fall. I'll certainly miss writing about such a dynamic pair as Riley and Beck. They have layers that I have yet to plumb.

Asher_Knight said...

Oh, man, Forgiven just blew me away, Jana! All the action, the anticipation, the Beck and Riley love -- all of it just piled up to equal a spectacular third addition. Couldn't get enough. I NEED BOOK FOUR. :D

Mimi Valentine said...

Okay, that's it -- I'm adding this one to my TBR pile!! x) I was so upset with what happened in Soul Thief too that I wasn't planning on reading this one AT ALL, but now I think I'm going to have to! I love how you described Riley because that's EXACTLY it -- she's been through so much, and now I can't believe I wasn't going to read on to figure out what happens to her!

Beautiful & convincing review, Asher! :') <3

P.S. Team Beck forever!!!!!!!

Asher_Knight said...

YOU HAVE TO. It. Is. Awesome. Was totally in love with this one. Are we talking about the same thing I think we're talking about? *cough* Ori business *cough* Dude, you so have to read this one, because SO MANY GOOD THINGS HAPPEN.