Shadows by Paula Weston I wrote this review of Shadows Book I of The Rephaim by Paula Weston in June 2012, in time for the book’s release in July 2012. I have no idea why I never posted it, but here it is. Sorry for my tardiness Text Publishing and Paula Weston, it will probably happen again.

Paula Weston will be at Gold Coast Supanova this weekend.

Shadows is a “kick-arse paranormal romance” about fallen angels. I try to keep far away from paranormal romance, mainly due to those sparkly vampires. I’ve never read any of the angel brigade of paranormal romance and I wasn’t about to start with Shadows, but it was sitting in front of me so I did. If they’re all like this I may have to change my ways. Shadows is most definitely kick-arse but I wouldn’t call it a romance. There’s a lot of lust, but pining over someone and waiting to be saved? Not so much. Of course, my definition of romance may only be more of my prejudice, perhaps I don’t like that a book I enjoyed is a romance!?

Gaby is a deliciously strong female protagonist, an ideal role model for readers. She doesn’t swoon at the feet of some hot guy, although she is happy to hook up with one or two; she fights for the people she cares about; and admits to her fears, of which she has many. Her memory loss means she has no idea what’s going on, she’s as new to the story as we are. Also she works in a library, most definitely kick-arse.

I’m interested in the double standard for lust between men and women: a man who sleeps around may be deemed a “player,” but a woman doing the same is a “slut.” I was impressed with Weston’s take on lust. Gaby is never thought less of for her lustful actions (with more than one hot guy, and who wouldn’t, she’s surrounded by smoking half angels and surfies). Rafa, on the other hand, is a laughing stock due to his unrelenting need to get laid. One of my favourite parts of Shadows is Gaby and Rafa’s final encounter. The apparent role reversal is unexpected, but actually in keeping with their characters.

As well as sexual equality, there is equality of strength and fighting prowess between male and female half angels. Prior to her memory loss, Gaby was an equal leader with Rafa when they battled demons. While Rafa has to save Gaby many times during the story, she’s more than capable of fending for herself when cage fighting a hellion and telling Rafa where to go when his ego gets too big.

One character, Jason, has many “feminine” traits, he often seems to end up washing the dishes, and Rafa disparages “Goldilocks” endlessly. Rafa believes his refusal to fight is due to selfish cowardess, but his pacifism is actually in aid of keeping others safe. I really liked this reversal of gender roles, Gaby the tough fighter and the more traditionally feminine Jason.

The bad language and multiple hookups may make this book a target for some, but I found both very important to the story. Teenagers have both in their lives, whether adults like it or not and lust was the cause of the Fallen Angels’ descent. Why wouldn’t their children continue this legacy? The sexual insults the characters trade made for some highly comedic banter.

The final battle was anticlimactic, but perhaps future battles will end with a bit more force. The details of battle scenes were well done and they ratchet up the tension, especially the aforementioned cage fight. My knowledge of the Angelic Choir is not extensive, most of what I know comes from Kevin Smith, but Weston seems to have done her research. I could check on Wikipedia, like her characters do, but I’ll trust Weston’s Apocrypha.

My tendency to judge books on their cover, or for any other reason, is epic and yet again my negative judgment is disproven. Perhaps I’ll look forward to Book II of The Rephaim.

Not written in June 2012: Haze Book II of The Rephaim may have been sitting on my book shelf for two years, but I will read it, I’m sure I will… While I was hibernating Book III and Book IV were written. Burn (Rephaim #4) isn’t out until 24 June, I have a deadline to read Book II. Now I’m off to google deadline.