Before the Fall by Sable Grace
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (96 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Verbena
Zach was once the Order of Ancients’ most feared warrior, beating back the hounds of hell to protect the unsuspecting human race. But since he left the Order ten years ago, he’s been living as a mortal . . . until now. The gates of the underworld are breaking open, and Zach is needed in the fight once again. But before he can answer his summons, there’s one person he refuses to leave behind. Shanna may think Zach has a screw loose, spouting all this “hounds of hell” nonsense, but he has to get her to safety. The journey to the Order’s headquarters is a dangerous one, and even a warrior like Zach might not be strong enough to keep the darkness at bay.
At one time, he’d have given his life to save the world. Now, there’s just one woman he’s desperate to protect. A brave warrior, Zach had devoted his loyalty to the Order, and his life to humanity. When a run-in with a lychen leaves him less than capable of holding his own as a fierce warrior, he’s force to retire from service, to be called upon only as a last resort, so to speak.
Nevertheless, not all is lost; he soon meets a woman who gives him more reason to live than his duty to the Order ever did. Unfortunately, she’s not so keen on the whole idea of demons, vampyres, and werewolves. His confession of such things sends her packing, taking his heart with her. Booze and loneliness become his only friends, that is, until the Order summons him and he’s forced to take up his sword once again. Whether she likes it or not, Zach is determined to protect Shanna from the evil about to change the world as she knows it.
Shanna loved Zach, still does, despite the fact that he’s obviously a lunatic. Vampyres? Lychen? He must be insane. Or so she thought. But when four-legged, flesh-hungry creatures start chasing after them, and beings that stink like rotting flesh come crawling out of the very ground beneath her feet, she’s forced to reconsider Zach’s warrior stories. Despite what common sense tells her—things such as these don’t exist—her eyes aren’t blind. Like it or not, she’s going to have to accept the changes to come, as well as the determination of the man trying to save her life. She just hopes he can forgive her for walking away before. If there’s a chance for their love re-ignite, she’s ready to try again.
Before the Fall is a fast-paced story. There are few breathers, so to speak. The reader is hurdled right into the midst of impending chaos, which makes for a very exciting ride.
I really liked Zach’s sense of humor; he had me laughing at his sarcasm several times. Shanna is humorous herself. Together, they make a good demon kick-butt team.
If I had one complaint, it was that the story just got to the real meat of things, and then ended. It almost felt rushed for completion, when there was so much more that could have gone in to it. One thing I did notice, and this may be something allowed by the publisher, was some head-hopping. In some scenes, point-of-view shifts back and forth between the characters without any warning ahead of time, leaving you a little confused as to whose head you’re in.
The author does a great job of painting the impending doom. Her visual stimulation succeeds in propelling the reader along on the characters’ plight to safety. I thoroughly enjoyed the story. It's fast and furious and well written. I only wish it had lasted a little longer.