Science fiction and fantasy                                            

A Touch of Crimson

by Sylvia Day


I've never understood the attraction of sexless hybrid bird men with goody-two-shoes personalities. Clearly I'm in the minority, because A Touch of Crimson is only the latest in a slew of recent books about hot angels. It revolves around Adrian Mitchell, the seraph in charge of policing the Fallen angels on Earth. Adrian is reeling from the murder of his second in command, so the book opens with a mystery as he tries to figure out how it happened and who is responsible. His is a world of lycans, vampires, demons and angels. The Fallen have given birth to a race of vampires that live amongst us, or else they have become lycans in the service of the abstemious seraphs. This profusion of supernatural races is less complex than it sounds. In fact the opening is very James Bond.

Next we're introduced to Lindsay Gibson, Woman. She's trying to live a relatively normal life, but she has trouble fitting in because she's an empath and the wind speaks to her. At the airport on her way to a new job she catches sight of Adrian and is immediately smitten by his good looks. It's mutual, in spite of his holy mission to spend eternity not having fun. He recognises Lindsay as the reincarnation of Shadoe, his soul mate. So he wastes no time in whisking her off to his mansion and putting her under guard against the forces of evil.

Lindsay has no knowledge of Shadoe, so she's astonished by the attention she's getting from this perfect angel. There must be a catch, she suspects. He's super-rich, he doesn't need to eat, and his wings dissipate into mist whenever he doesn't need them, so he has none of the mundane physical or financial drawbacks that make life tedious for ordinary mortals. However he does come equipped with all the kit for reproduction. Although most of the time he barely experiences emotions about anything, when Lindsay arrives on the scene it reawakens his lust big time. He's tempted to break the law he was created to enforce. The pair of them spend ages angsting about the sin of what they want to do to each other, then giving in to temptation, and then feeling guilty afterwards. The whole set-up is a thinly-veiled excuse for lots of sex, basically.

Sylvia Day's style is straight to the point and obvious, and I thought the start of the novel lacked descriptive detail. Later on the frequent raunchy sections are explicit and unsubtle. To begin with the characters and story seemed to have very little depth beyond presenting us with a set of perfectly-proportioned body parts poised to dance the dance. However A Touch of Crimson gets better as it progresses, when new elements are introduced and the main characters get a chance to show other facets of themselves.

Rebellion is brewing amongst the lycans because they resent their angel masters. Alpha lycan Elijah becomes close friends with Lindsay, and he knows that an uprising will cause unnecessary deaths. But the angels have been treating his kind as lifelong slaves since the Fall. Meanwhile Shadoe's father, Syre, is determined to find her and turn her into a vampire so she can live forever. Adrian would rather she die than suffer this fate because it would leave her without a soul. So Syre and the other vampires are trying to find a way to reach her through Adrian's defences. There's also a mysterious plague affecting some of the vampires, turning them into senseless, raving monsters.

The ideas behind this novel are extremely old-fashioned, and they sit strangely with characters who are immersed in the modern world. Sex between consenting adults, albeit adults who aren't all human, is presented as sinful. Jehovah is mentioned in the text, but he doesn't appear to justify his rule. The half-human, half-angel nephalim aren't even particularly monstrous, so there's no good reason for the angels to be fanatical about such an absurd rule. What comes naturally is painted as bad and somehow shameful, yet the novel relishes these transgressions at length. This message would annoy me if I thought it meant anything, and wasn't just an excuse to inject the frisson of forbidden love into an erotic fantasy.

Lindsay has some backbone, which comes out later on when she asserts herself much more forcefully. The fast-paced plot also proves more interesting than the Michael Bay inspired explosion orgy it threatens to be at the start. So the story does improve. It's still feather light, though, and the kind of read that demands more of your hand than your brain.

22nd October 2012

Book Details

Year: 2012

Categories: Books


  Not For The Squeamish  

If you like this, try:

Angelfire cover    

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Ellie Monroe believes she is an ordinary teenager who has weird nightmares, until she meets a man who can tell her who she really is.


Avenger's Angel by Heather Killough-Walden
An archangel tries to win over his archess in this raunchy modern day fantasy.

Bullet cover    

Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton
How can Anita Blake defeat the Mother of All Darkness, an ancient vampire with no body of her own?

3 star rating

Review ©