Friday, August 4, 2017

The Angel Wore Fangs - Sandra Hill (Avon - June 2016)

Series: Deadly Angels (Book 7)

A Viking vangel’s otherworldly mission pairs him with a beautiful chef who whets his thousand-year-old appetite . . .

Once guilty of the deadly sin of gluttony, thousand-year-old Viking vampire angel Cnut Sigurdsson is now a lean, mean, vampire-devil fighting machine. His new side-job? No biggie: just ridding the world of a threat called ISIS while keeping the evil Lucipires (demon vampires) at bay. So when chef Andrea Stewart hires him to rescue her sister from a cult recruiting terrorists at a Montana dude ranch, vangel turns cowboy. Yeehaw!

The too-tempting mortal insists on accompanying him, surprising Cnut with her bravery at every turn. But with terrorists stalking the ranch in demonoid form, Cnut teletransports Andrea and himself out of danger -- accidentally into the tenth-century Norselands. Suddenly, they have to find their way back to the future to save her family and the world . . . and to satisfy their insatiable attraction.

Good book. Cnut is the last of the brothers to have his story told. Each of the brothers was guilty of embodying one of the seven deadly sins. Cnut's was gluttony. The story starts in 850 AD, with Cnut showing just how far he has fallen. He weighs more than 400 pounds, constantly eats even though his lands are suffering a famine and his people are starving to death. He also overindulges in drink, sex, gathering wealth, anything that can be done to excess. Then the Archangel Michael shows up to let Cnut know just how much trouble he is in, but also giving him a chance for redemption. All it takes is becoming a vampire angel in God's fight against evil. Though he might have wanted to reconsider after Michael's first decree is "you're going on a diet."

A thousand years later, Cnut is a lean, mean fighting machine who has been tagged with defeating ISIS and the Lucipires that egg them on. He just isn't sure how to start, until a woman arrives at his security agency, looking for help getting her sister away from a Montana cult that is recruiting for those same terrorists. Andrea is a pastry chef who has spent her entire life watching out for her beautiful but flaky younger sister. However, this escapade is the worst she's had to deal with, and she's grateful for the help of the sinfully sexy man. Not so grateful, though, that she's willing to stay behind.

There are sparks between Cnut and Andrea from the moment they met, sparks that neither wants to admit to. Those sparks lead Cnut to take Andrea with him to Montana, even though he's sure that it's a bad idea. I loved Andrea's determination and refusal to back down, even though she knows she's out of her depth. Their trip to Montana was pretty funny, with her nerves making her chatter and getting on Cnut's nerves. His forebodings are borne out when they arrive to find the place apparently deserted except for some puddles of slime - until he spots hordes of lucipires converging on the lodge. The only way to escape is to teletransport out of there, but something goes wrong, and they end up back in Cnut's homeplace and time.

I really enjoyed this part of the book, as Cnut is forced to face his past and poor example of a man he had been. Unable to contact his brothers or Michael, he realizes that maybe he is meant to make amends for the sins of his past. I ached for him because even though he is so different in looks and behavior now, he still sees himself as the fat glutton and selfish bastard that he used to be. Andrea has her own self-esteem issues after years of comparing herself to her beautiful and vivacious younger sister. Both of them have some interesting and amusing inner dialogs wondering what the other sees in them. I liked the way that they grew closer as they worked together, and understood each other's fears. The heat that grows between them is explosive and when they finally give in their connection is undeniable. I loved seeing the trust that makes it happen.

I loved the way that Andrea took her arrival in the past in stride, once she got over the shock. She's determined to help Cnut save his people from starvation, and I enjoyed seeing her team up with the castle cook to do it. There are some terrific cooking scenes -- soup! turnips! -- and I loved the use of menus at the beginning of some of the chapters. There are also some really funny insertions of modern life into Viking times, such as "Save a longship - Ride a Viking!" and teaching Viking women about birth control.

It's not all fun times though, as Cnut discovers that there are lucipires lurking in the woods around his home. Though easily dealing with those he finds, there's more to come. A woman from his past unexpectedly appears, bringing trouble with her. It was interesting to see him try to deal with her when all he wants is to be with Andrea. It doesn't help things that the woman and her traveling companions all carry the scent of rancid lemons, a sure sign that the lucipires have struck. This is confirmed by the unexpected arrival of Zebulon who has been given direct orders by Jasper regarding Cnut. There's a great deal of angst as Cnut tries to do the right thing as he sees it and still protect Andrea. I ached for him as things don't go the way he expected and the guilt tears at him. I had a hard time liking Michael at this point. Though things ended well for the vangels, poor Zeb is left to face the music. I can't wait to read his book, as he surely deserves to have his own happy ending.

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