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Eve of Darkness - S.J. Day Have you ever read the story of Cain and Abel? S.J. Day takes a spin on it that left me very excited after reading the first entry in this series; Eve Of Darkness (May 2009). With an attention grabbing first chapter and an evocative writing style the author introduced me to a set of characters, who instantly ensnared me to follow their journey. From the first chapter I was taken back to the day where Eve was branded by the Mark of Cain which instilled a sense that serious mayhem was coming soon for Eve.

Evangeline Hollis is on top of her game as an interior designer. She loves what she does and is confident about her abilities. When she meets Reed Abel she is struck by the resemblance he has to her first love Alec Cain. Ending up in a stairway with Abel she is branded by a triquetra, known as the Mark Of Cain, and life as she knew it has stopped. Now she has Abel for a handler, assigning her to certain missions and Alec Cain strolls back in to her life as her mentor in the field. Eve now has to work for her absolution and she doesn’t know when it will be granted..

Eve is the embodiment of the UF genre’s heroine, who resonated with me and will with most Urban Fantasy readers. Her sassy sarcasm, along with a smart and independent mind becomes a formidable opponent for Abel and Cain. This book created vibrant dialogues that had me consuming the pages with body scorching sensuality and a connection between the three of them that became irrefutable. With Eve I got a taste of the Celestial hierarchy within the world of the Marked and I sometimes was just as surprised and infuriated as she was.

As Eve staked her claim on me as a reader, the two men opposing her in this story also had me at their introductions. How could I not be completely swept off my feet by two rivaling brothers whose relationship is intricate, dark and mysterious? A part of their story is told in the Bible and within that shred of information lays a complex history which I am more than willing to unravel. Alec Cain has a shared experience with Eve and he is well matched to her. He is a powerful warrior, blatantly sensual, walks the line when it comes to the rules, and is very well trained in the job he does. However, when his emotions play havoc, all bets are off in what he should or shouldn’t do. Reed Abel is almost painfully correct, follows the rules but underneath that proper veneer hides a passionate man with hopes and dreams of his own.

Both men entranced me with Eve stuck in the middle. Though I did not envy Eve most of the time, she held her ground and there were definitely benefits to this. The appeal in their trinity lies in the fact that while each is a headstrong person and wants to draw their own plan, it is their varying emotions that feed their core and bind them to one another. I welcomed the author’s insight in the leading characters thoughts and feelings, unraveling more of their inner natures which kept me intent on reading Eve Of Darkness in one sitting. With a multiple point of view it enhanced my involvement regarding various characters and kept my interest at a constant high level.

I was very impressed not only by the layered characterization but also by the plot that enhanced Eve Of Darkness to greater heights. I learned about Eve’s new world which came with a whole new set of dos and don’ts. But it is the complex plot that appealed to my inquisitive nature. As S.J. Day masterfully teased in the beginning of the book, I knew a lot must have happened between Eve’s marking and the events in that first chapter. There are several major players, who influence the outcome of this first episode in the Marked series with thoughts of Armageddon not being out of the realm of possibilities. The plot is constantly changing holding my attention and I revel in the fact that an author can engross me so.

There are a few strong supporting characters, who gave even more depth to the opening of the Marked series and those are: Raquel, an Archangel who has jurisdiction over Eve. He makes my skin crawl since you never know what he is up to. However, I love the effect he has by keeping things exciting since he is a bit of a wild card. The endearing, elderly next door neighbor along with Eve’s mother form Eve’s safety net as her whole world comes crashing down. We all want a neighbor such as Mrs. Basso, always there with a warm smile, good nature and advice yet also a bit nosy at times. However, when a woman thinks Hugh Jackman is a hunk she is okay in my book. Add two fiend enemy creatures like Nix and Tengu intent on Eve’s demise and trouble becomes Eve’s middle name.

There is definitely a celestial element in this tale with Archangels, who run their firms and have an absolute devotion to the Lord. But also where Marks have to work to earn their absolution and Hell spits out its own creatures. At the epicenter are Cain and Abel, who hasn't heard of their story? I am very curious as to where S.J. Day is going to take their relationship and how it is all going to affect Eve. The divine element is done with a healthy dose of respect and credibility encased with the author’s creative freedom. Eve is no angel but the fact that her Mark burns every time she curses makes me smile, since to take the Lord’s name in vain isn’t the wisest of choices when you’re working for an absolution.

Eve Of Darkness delivers a very strong opening in the back to back releases of S.J. Day’s Marked series, with upcoming; Eve Of Destruction (Tor/June 2009) and Eve of Chaos (Tor/July 2009). The world of saints and sinners has never been so exciting with a heroine we can root for and two men, who are the epitome of sexy. Either one or both will become this reader’s favorite!

Dragon to Eve
He snorted, which shot a burst of fire out of his muzzle. “I’ve heard about you. You’re no threat to me.”
“Really?” She tilted her head, frowning in mock confusion. Demons used sarcasm, evasion, and lies to their advantage. Eve did, too. “When was the last time you got an update on me? Does Hell have a newsletter? A chatroom? Otherwise, you’re probably behind the times.”

Cain to Eve
“If you’re looking for a buzz,” he bit out, “you won’t get one here.”
She paused mid movement.
“Your body doesn’t process alcohol – or any mind altering substance – the same way it used to.”
Her hand fell as a fist into the counter. [..]
“Are you saying I can’t get high?”
“You can orgasm from here to eternity,” he said roughly. “That high enough for you?”
“I’m happy to oblige.”

4,5 stars