This book actually contains two stories: a novella that's about 40 pages, called "The Ninja Vampire's Girl," in addition to the full lengths Ashes of Angels. Both are part of Michelle Hauf's ongoing series Of Angels and Demons. And believe me, it was very apparent that I came into the series late.
I'll talk first about the full length story, featuring Sam, a Fallen Angel, and Cassandra, his muse. The story starts out with too many characters and too much terminology out of the gate. For people who have been reading this series all along, that's unlikely to be a problem. But I, on the other hand, was scrambling to the Club Scarlet online page to see if the glossaries or character description pages the author provided would help me fill in the blanks. They helped a little, and in all honesty I did eventually figure out what was going on, but my utter cluelessness distracted me in the first half of the book.
For those of you unfamiliar with the world-building, I'll save you some trouble. A long time ago, a group of Angels decided to fall from Heaven (or Above as they call it). Their primary motivation was lust; they wanted to experience carnal pleasures with human women. Before their feet hit the ground, a handful of Fallen were snatched away from their brethren... destined to become demons who would hunt the others who fell. After a time, a great flood swept the remaining Fallen into an otherworldly planet, where they have lived ever since. Some have made it back to Earth, though, with their minds set on finding their Muse... the one human woman who is their predestined mate. The thing is, not all the Muses are willing partners, but the Fallen don't care. They just want that carnal pleasure. And physical unions result in pregnancies and, later, births of hideous flesh eating monsters called Nephilim.
Anyway, Cassandra is a Muse who has been preparing for the day she would need to defend herself against her Fallen. But when Sam finds her, she discovers he is nothing like the others of his kind. He wants to stop the other Fallen and protect the Muses, in the hope he may one day return to live Above. He's actually a good guy; and that's very fortunate, because the vampires are summoning the Fallen back to Earth. They want more Nephilim created, because they think the monsters are the key to help them one day walk again in the sun. Cassandra and Sam decide to work together to foil that plan and protect the Muses.
While Sam's motives are pure, he is still fiercly attracted to Cassandra. And with her desire for danger, she finds she wants him too. Now, I understand what's going on with Sam, but frankly Cassandra's thing for flirting with danger was a turn off for me. Her grandmother groomed her since childhood to fear and fight the Fallen. And here she is with her tongue in his mouth in a New York minute. Oh yeah... and other stuff too. That's a lot of trust for your life-long enemy, Caz
. No matter how hot he is.
There was just too much for me to take in. And for Cassandra to be this woman who is trained and prepared and smart, she struck me as pretty stupid to let herself be lead by lust. I don't know if I would have loved it, even if I knew what was going on the whole time. (I know I would have never been ok with Sam calling Cassandra "Bunny" in any scenario.) But I am sure I would have at least enjoyed it more than I did.
As for "The Ninja Vampire's Girl," this short story features Cassandra's sister Coco. At the beginning of the book, the author recommends that you read this first. I wish I had. It clearly and consisely lays out the world building that took so long for me to grasp in the full length book. Unlike Cassandra's story, this was told in first person, switching back and forth between Coco and Zane's perspective. Basically, our hero and heroine meet as Coco is trying to steal a halo to give to Cassandra for protection. Zane is hunting the Fallen it belonged to. And as they book work toward their respective goals, their paths cross and a spark is born between them. I liked this novella quite a lot. It was action packed, straightforward and sexy. More than the full length story did, the novella makes me want to check out the backlist in the series.
3 1/2 stars.*ARC Provided by NetGalley