Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Embrace Your Darkness

"Embrace al that you are and you will be untouchable."
--Nikki Kelly, Gabriel

Genre: YA Paranormal
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pages: 384
Publication Date: October 27th, 2015
Source: eARC provided by author--thanks, Nikki!
Previous Books in Series: Lailah
Goodreads Description 

The handsome Angel from Lailah gets center stage in this continuation of Wattpad sensation Nikki Kelly’s romantic and action-packed series about mortals, vampires, and angels.

Gabriel is an Angel Descendant. He's also an ally to a generation of vampires who want to break away from the demon who controls them. His faith in the power of good over evil wavers, however, when he discovers that Lailah, the woman he considers his only true love, may be both angel and demon. Is their love enough to overcome the dark forces who are ready to go to war with Gabriel, the vampire Jonah, and the angel and vampire forces? And can Gabriel compete with Jonah, who is also in love with Lailah?

Once again, Nikki Kelly looks deeply into the heart and soul of good and evil to create a romantic, action-packed reading adventure.

Last year when I read Lailah I was blown away. I did not expect to love that book so much and feel so engaged with the characters and their story. When I got an ARC of Gabriel I almost immediately dropped everything and started it. Not disappointed. While it was a struggle in the beginning, see below, once I got into the story a little ways it was non-stop. Lailah was a huge part of what I loved about this second book After waking up after a massive battle, Lailah is now equal parts light and dark...and she struggles to accept this. She loves Gabriel with everything she has and their love is beautiful...but she's not all light. She has a darkness in her that needs feeding and she struggles to accept this for a long time.

I loved her struggle. I mean, I didn't love that she had to have growing pains but her journey to accept herself for all her parts was beautiful. So much thought and emphasis in our world is put on how dark is bad, dark is evil, dark is wrong and it's not. It's just a different version of a similar story and it is not always black and white. Lailah has to learn to live in the gray and accept all parts of herself and the road to get there is paved with stumbles and falls.

A huge part of what helps her? Jonah. While Lailah doesn't remember Jonah, that doesn't stop him from trying to help her and encourage her to embrace all sides of herself. He accepts her for who she is and understands her desire and need to be with Gabriel. I find this so amazing and beautiful and selfless that my heart just went out to Jonah and all he struggled with. He lost one  of his best friends when she stopped remembering, not to mention the feelings of love between them. Their moments together are difficult to read at times but they were so worth it in the end. Oh, my heart. I can't. Love the Jonah.

Gabriel, on the other hand, surprised me. In both good and bad ways, Gabriel makes some difficult choices of his own. He loves Lailah more than anything and he stumbles in his path of light and love trying to protect her. He seems distant at the same time he is so incredibly focused on her. Their moments together and filled with so much love and I love the idea of soul mates and how they are meant to be. As with the first book, I wish Gabriel would open up more and not let his tunnel-vision laser focus be so intense. I hate when he doesn't tell Lailah things because he doesn't want to burden her or worry her. He doesn't need to take the entire world on by himself, he can let go and let people in. I love his protectiveness over Lailah but at the same time I wish he would be able to let her spread her wings a little bit and trust her to take care of herself.

The Start
The beginning was rough for me to get into. I wish I had re-read Lailah going into it because I was mostly pissed off at myself for not remembering more. The recap in the beginning is good but I just like to feel fully engaged when starting the next book. It took awhile for me to feel back into the story and feel the voice of Lailah more than I would have liked. But once I got there, it was non-stop page-turner until the end.

Reserved Seating
If you love the idea of light and dark, good vs evil, and a heroine who fights to accept herself...this book is for you. 

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