Jove, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-515-14532-8
I have to say this about Lori Foster’s series Servant: she could have easily written another series about some kind of cosmic spook brotherhood secretly protecting humans from demons, vampires, or whatever – and you know her fans will lap up these books – but instead, as LL Foster, the author chooses to write a series that fits the original description of “urban fantasy”. If you are looking for another story heavy with tropes like vampires looking for destined soulmates or werecreatures looking for hormonally acceptable mates, you can’t find them here.
The Acceptance is a genuine sequel to The Awakening, but it can be read as a standalone because the plot is not related to that in the previous book. The character arc of the heroine, Gabrielle Cody, however, is a continuation from that in the previous book, so I’d suggest you read the previous book, if you haven’t, to fully appreciate her character growth. At the very least, read my review of the previous book to get the background information on the series.
In this story, Gaby faces a new threat: someone is carving up the streetwalkers in her neighborhood. While this may seem like a mundane thing when it comes to threats as far as urban fantasy drama goes, this isn’t the main story line. This threat is a catalyst for a more compelling drama: Gaby’s realization that she is slowly becoming the kind of bloodthirsty and inhuman monster that she believes God places her on Earth to destroy if she doesn’t watch herself. How she attempts to deal with this leads to some heartbreaking moments in this story. I won’t spoil the story too much, so let me just say that I find it gut-wrenching how she realizes that perhaps she needs to become what she hates most for the greater good even as at the same time she tries valiantly to hide this darker aspect of herself from Luther Cross.
I find Gaby in the previous book a little too much like a caricature of a kickass heroine, but here Ms Foster has found a better balance in Gaby. She is still abrasive and she has plenty of deliciously anti-heroic moments, but at the same time there are some moments of vulnerabilities from Gaby that feel genuine without compromising her character’s strength. I find myself very intrigued by Gaby here. Some heroines in urban fantasy series talk the talk but rarely walk the walk, but Gaby here really kicks ass and carries the story on her own because God is bad-ass enough to make her His paladin.
I find Luther still too creepy for my liking, though. He has his place here, as a representation of the humanity and goodness that Gaby craves to have in her life, but as Gaby’s love interest, he comes off as way too patronizing. His high-handed David Carradine mannerisms in this story makes his sexual interest in Gaby come off as even more creepy in a Big Daddy Loves His Little Girl Very Much way – as strong as Gaby can be in her own right, emotionally, she is actually in a position of weakness where Luther is concerned. It’s like watching someone fall in love with her shrink and the shrink acting on the attraction; the lop-sided nature of this relationship doesn’t sit well with me. I’d rather see Gaby in a relationship with Bliss the prostitute – those two have a pretty good chemistry here, come to think of it. How about it? Let’s give Gaby a girlfriend!
Nonetheless, despite the fact that I can really do without Luther’s lusting after Gaby or the fact that the the bad guys in this story have to fall into the fat and ugly mold while the good guys are all attractive and hot, I find this story a most enjoyable read. Solidly compelling and emotionally draining, Gaby’s story is dark, violent, disturbing, and therefore too much fun. My only regret here is that the author does take a few risks here, but she doesn’t dare push the envelope too far. I can’t help thinking that the story will be so much more hard-hitting if Ms Foster has indeed allowed Gaby’s close friend to actually die at the hands of the villain instead of allowing this woman to escape the villain in a pretty unbelievable manner, for example, or for Luther to remain completely ignorant of Gaby’s deception late in the story. Or let the villain actually be a twelve-year old boy, heh, because, let’s face it, this will be really too deliciously shocking and therefore too cool for words.
I was wishy-washy about committing time and money to this series after reading The Awakening, but The Acceptance has me firmly on board. I am interested to see where this series will go from here.