The Twelfth Paladin by Nora Weston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When you play with fire, you're gonna get burned. Nora Weston's paranormal romantic thriller, The Twelfth Paladin, takes that timely mantra to a whole new level.
Jake Cottrell has led a rough life. His mother left him and his drunken father years ago, and he's been stuck with alcoholic "Tony" since then. Jake's passions now as a young man are dirt-bike racing and self-destruction. If there's trouble about, Jake is usually part of it.
Enter Davis Travers, a local heart surgeon and general a-hole. Even though Jake hates him, when Davis invites him to his enormous mansion, he takes him up on the offer. There, Davis entices Jake with a VERY erotic website, promising more if Jake keeps in touch.
Soon after, Jake receives an email from the mysterious firstname.lastname@example.org. They promise he'll receive a hot toy if only he'll respond "yes". Since Jake never turns down trouble, he engages and meets the most alluring temptress he's ever encountered by the name of Rachel Darnell.
From there, Jake embarks on a journey full of temptation and life and death struggles brought to him straight from Hell itself. His saving grace is that an angel by the name of Micah has scarred him with angelfire, in the hopes of turning Jake into his 12th paladin, a holy, angelic warrior. Slowly, but surely, Jake develops abilities and becomes more aware of the goodness within he's tried so hard to bury, which comes in very handy when he's forced into epic battle with some of Hell's denizens.
That's what had me rooting for Jake the most--the fact that he's not perfect and noble. He's a very flawed character, but he has a good heart. I loved that he tried his best to care for his alcoholic father, even though he had every right to leave Tony far behind. I loved that he stepped in numerous times to help innocent people, even though he'd turn right around and make another mistake. I loved his bumpy journey from self-destructive jerk to imperfect angel-warrior. And I really loved that he recognized true love when he found it, though it was hard for him to break away from Rachel's demonic grip.
The only thing that I can nitpick was that every viewpoint character talked to him- or herself a lot, either with inner thoughts or out loud. It felt unnatural. I'd have rather seen most of that information in straight narrative.
Overall, though, from page one, I was drawn into Jake Cottrell's horrific and heroic journey and am glad the ending (which I won't give away) leaves him open for future adventures.
I recommend this book for adults who love paranormal, angel/demon stories and don't mind some sizzling (though not very explicit) sex scenes. Buy this book and take a harrowing ride with Jake Cottrell. You'll be glad you did!
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