"Fallen," Erin McCarthy

Pros: Delicious characters; fascinating premise; strong romance chemistry; intriguing mystery
Cons: Weak antagonists; slow start
Rating: 3 out of 5

Review copy courtesy of Penguin Group.
Expected publication date: 4/29/08.


The angel Gabriel was sent to watch over the humans of New Orleans, but he lost himself in gluttony, addiction, and the pleasures of absinthe, becoming Fallen and sliding ever deeper into the bottle. When his mistress Anne was horribly murdered in the nineteenth century, he didn’t even know whether or not he might have killed her. And his punishment for his sins is severe: any time he touches a woman, she becomes obsessed with him, craving him just as he craves drink, reflecting his sins back at him.

In the modern day, Gabriel is still bound to New Orleans, although he’s given up the drink. He’s holed away in his home writing true-crime books, hoping to find some sort of peace and trying to avoid touching any women he meets. The last several decades have been miserable for him, but things are about to change. Sara Michaels is about to enter his life. She’s Anne’s great-great-granddaughter, and her mother was recently killed in the exact same manner as Anne. To make matters stranger, those two women are hardly the only ones in her family line who’ve died in this manner. Sara’s mother’s murder is still unsolved, and Sara hopes to find some sort of closure by helping to apply modern forensic methods to the yet-unsolved mystery of her great-great-grandmother Anne. And in the process, perhaps she’ll be able to reassure herself that she won’t be the next victim of an apparent family curse.

In order to solve Anne’s murder, however, she’s going to have to work with Gabriel, and that could doom them both. Sara is already all too familiar with the feel of addiction, and it doesn’t take long for their business relationship to give way to something more…


Fallen starts off a bit slowly, with Gabriel and Sarah over-thinking nearly every moment that passes. While I enjoyed getting to know these interesting characters, it seemed as though for every line of dialogue or every action there was a paragraph of rumination, much of it unnecessary and obvious. This does pass, however, and the book picks up steam, eventually taking on a pace that makes it very difficult to put down.

Gabriel and Sarah are fascinating and intricate characters with a great deal of chemistry, and it’s great fun to explore their growing relationship. Unfortunately, many of the side characters—including the ultimate antagonists—seem flat and one-dimensional in comparison. While the mystery itself was quite fascinating, it tended to rely on withholding information until late in the game, which has always struck me as something of a cheat when an author is trying to keep the reader from figuring things out. I definitely found myself wanting the murderer to have been given a more in-depth and three-dimensional treatment; as it was, the mystery’s solution was a bit disappointing.

Fallen straddles a handful of genres: paranormal, romance, erotica, and mystery. FYI for the romance and erotica readers: the sex scenes are explicit but fairly straightforward and non-kinky; they’re deliciously hot in their execution. The mystery has a fascinating premise but is somewhat awkward in its execution. The paranormal romance, however, is what makes this book such a delightful read despite its flaws. I absolutely enjoyed the chemistry between Gabriel and Sara and their most unusual relationship, and I hung on every word wanting to know what happened between them.

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