Harbinger by Emily Meredith
Released: March 13, 2018
Reviewed by Mandi
A debut urban fantasy featuring demons and nephilim. I tend to not sway towards demons necessarily, – but I read an excerpt when I received this review request and I liked it. Even better, I enjoyed this entire book (except for the end but we will get to that!)
When Annabel’s uncle dies, she is shocked. She had not spoken to him for fifteen years, but the loss of him still upsets her. All those years ago, as her mother’s mental health became more unstable, her father became more distant. It was her uncle who stepped in as a father figure and supported her. After her mother dies by suicide, her father packed up Annabel and left – and she never saw her uncle again. To learn that he jumped out a window, is another shock to her system – but there are more to come.
Her uncle leaves his entire estate, which is in the high millions, to her. This includes a swanky New York City townhouse. Annabel is a bartender and barely makes enough money to support herself – so now this large inflow of assets is very overwhelming. But this is the least of her worries.
Recently, Annabel has been tormented by something she can’t quite put her finger on. She is certain she sees shadows in dark corners. She hears doors slam, she takes a bath an swears the water turns into blood. When she meets with her uncle’s best friend after his death, he starts to tell her a unbelievable tale that her uncle, and her mother and herself are all descendants of the nephilim, angel/divine creatures. Her uncle was obsessed with tracing his lineage and apparently had dedicated his life to researching this and keeping Annabel safe, as there are people and secret organizations who fear those descended from the divine. Annabel’s father wanted her to have a “normal” life, so they kept her in the dark about her true past. But with her uncle dead, there is a fear that she could be targeted.
Oh – and remember Annabel’s torment with hearing and seeing things? She is being followed around by a demon, who is tasked with killing her by making her going insane. And I forgot to mention – this demon is the hero.
Aamon is her curse, and he has been following her and making her life difficult for some time. But, unlike every other person he has tormented until death, Aamon has somehow developed a soft spot for Annabel. It hurts him to hurt her.
And here she sat, with the fucking door unlocked.
He paced in front of her. How the hell was he supposed to watch over her when she seemed hell-bent on putting her life in jeopardy every five minutes?
Easily. Because you’re not watching over her.
He stopped as the thought landed squarely in his mind and stayed there, seeping into every corner. It was the truth, after all. He was her tormentor. Her curse. If anything, he should have been reveling in the peril, finding satisfaction in her complete lack of common sense. Instead, the anxiety grew ever more present, as did his watchful eye. A line had been crossed.
And he eventually comes out of the demon shadows and shows himself to her. His penalty for this is being stripped of his immortality. Annabel’s Uncle’s best friend – the one helping her settle his will and telling her about her uncle’s nephilim research – asks Aamon to be her bodyguard, as there are people out there who want to attack anyone descended from the nephilim. Aamon agrees, Annabel grumpily agrees (as she was horribly attacked in her apartment and is fearing for her life yet Aamon isn’t necessarily…friendly) and the two of them are stuck together, and an eventual romance develops, while they fight to keep Annabel safe.
Goodness – enough set-up already! Let me get to the good stuff. Aamon is a demon, stripped of his demon-immortality for showing himself and helping save Annabel’s life. And he doesn’t really care because he falls for Annabel hard and all he wants to do is protect her. Aamon is INTENSE. He is growly, gruff, extremely protective. Controlling. Lacks a sense of humor.
“You need a coat,” she finally said.
It wasn’t cold yet, not really, but there was a chill just starting to bite at the October air, a trail of frozen breath on her lips, and a breeze that left goosebumps on her skin. Still, Aamon strode next to her in the same thin t-shirt he had peeled off his body last night, the one that must have dried between then and now. It was too thin for the changing seasons and the long walk home.
He glanced down at her, his expression dark but curious. “Why?”
“Because it’s October and normal people wear coats when it starts getting cold.”
His mouth twisted into a grin. “Well, thank you for that bit of insight into human behavior. I’ll be sure to file it under ‘I Don’t Give A Fuck.’”
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you when your dick gets frostbite and falls off,” she sighed.
“Wouldn’t that be tragic.”
I guess standard demon behavior? Pretty much made me swoon with his superior bad attitude. He really acted like a mortal demon who would do anything to keep Annabel safe, and be thoroughly annoyed that Annabel pushes back sometimes from his fierce protectiveness and her need to explore and research her Uncle’s path. He is a hottie demon and I loved him.
“I mean, we’d be horrible in a relationship.”
“Disastrous,” he said, his voice barely above a low growl.
“We’d fight all the time.”
“Because you always think you’re right,” He took a step toward the bed and leaned his weight against the bedpost, his expression becoming dark.
Her mouth fell open. “Well, you’re a control freak.”
He brought his knee up and shifted his weight to the mattress. “You never listen.”
Her heart jumped to her throat. “You’re too serious.”
He inched his way over her, caging her body in with his limbs. He was dangerously close now, his face just inches away so she could feel his breath on her skin.
“You need to start taking things seriously.”
“You have no sense of humor,” she exhaled just as his lips ghosted over hers.
“You’re not that funny.”
She suppressed a laugh. “Oh, fuck you.”
And he definitely had his moments of totally owing his feelings towards her:
She was beautiful.
Her eyes were wide as she waited for what was coming next. But he fell silent as a thousand different responses flew through his mind.
That was a mistake.
I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me.
That can never happen again.
I love you.
I fucking love you so much I feel like it might break me.
I loved Annabel too. She has had a pretty rotten life – although she has some good friends. I’m always wary of the when a person with supernatural abilities has no idea she has them – and then learns who she truly is. I need a good reaction. In this book, Annabel slowly learns about her lineage and who her mother and uncle were and it made that realization work pretty good for me. She gets pissed (and rightly so) that she has been kept in the dark about so much. She truly hates Aamon on first sight – so their “relationship” has a lot of push and pull and turns into wonderful sexual tension. Annabel has good friends in this book that add a lot.
A few things that frustrated me. First, this book ends on a cliffhanger so all of you can start to groan now. It’s not like her life is hanging in the balance or anything. And there is a pretty solid HEA (maybe like 85%) by the end of the book. But. Aamon has yet to tell Annabel that he was the demon causing her all that pain to begin with (and any other sordid details from his previous life that may affect her). He wants to tell her towards the end of the book but doesn’t get the chance – so that may affect the HEA in the next book.
Also, and my biggest frustration – we don’t really get to know what/who/HUH? Annabel is. Okay, she is descended from the nephilm – but what does that mean for her?? She can sense things a few seconds before they happen. Her brain kind of alerts her if something bad is going to happen so she has a two second head start. But what else? Why are people and organizations going after her kind? We are told they want to keep the balance on earth between good and evil – but we are left in the dark about who she really is and I didn’t love that. Her personality is well-developed – as is her relationship. But I wanted more closure about why people are after her.
So yes, I definitely had frustrations with the lack of progress on some of the bigger things in the book. But – I still look back with fondness.
I really like this author’s voice. It’s fun, and sexy (especially if you like intense alpha heroes). If you are in the mood for a new urban fantasy, you might want to try this one. Book two is scheduled for 2019.