|Title: The Unforgiven
Author: Joy Nash
Series: The Watchers #1
Cover Art: N/A
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Reviewed by: Julia
Sex scenes, attempted rape, incest.
Seven thousand years ago, angels descended from heaven to guide a fledgling human race. Known as the Watchers, they were forbidden to partake in carnal pleasures. But they could not resist the temptation, and as a result their descendants have been cursed—unnatural magical beings that belong neither to heaven nor fully to earth.
Cade was ordered to claim her for his clan. She was becoming one of them— a Watcher, so to reach her full power—and she didn’t even realize it. Yet the moment he saw her, he knew he could never share her. No matter what demons lurk in her past, no matter how much she tries to deny her body’s burning need for his, he will claim her for himself. And together they will face the battle that is brewing…
THE UNFORGIVEN opens like a mid-series book; characters have complex and painful pasts, there are rivalries and vendettas, all of which were introduced through summaries or asides or context clues. I’d applaud this book for being easy to jump into, but when I circled back to find the start of the series I found… THE UNFORGIVEN.
While part of me is still in denial (looking for prequel novellas or books on another imprint), when I judge THE UNFORGIVEN as a true first in the series, the opening leaves me disappointed. None of the characters, other than Maddie, are introduced in a way that feels like a true “first time introduction”. A few allusions to past heartbreaks and events don’t bother me when they’re clear, and I know I can go back and read about them myself, but THE UNFORGIVEN throws all racial conflicts, current romantic relationships, the nature of several dead comrades, and some bizarrely polygamous family ties into the past tense with very little explanation. I never felt lost, plot-wise, but I did feel emotionally disconnected from the characters.
Once the introduction was out of the way and I was into current events, I ran into another disconnect. Magic is the driving factor for every romantic relationship that is featured (other than references to dead baby-mamas). While this device is a classic, and works well in any number of urban fantasy novels, the characters were not well developed enough for it to work for me in THE UNFORGIVEN. Cade and Maddie don’t get much interaction beyond reacting to Watcher pheromones and fighting demons. When two new characters (and here I mean “new” in the “I don’t know you, I still need a reason to care about you” sense) are climbing all over each other because of “magical needs”, it reads like a technical exercise without emotion or motivation.
Even without much depth, Cade and Maddie relationship could have been hot on it’s own. However, when the “forced to feel this way” element was paired with instances of attempted rape it gave the whole book a much darker feel than I’d like. Lilith’s emotionally exploited, incestuous flashbacks were heart-wrenching, and I got tense every time I saw the italics that indicated another one. It is this element that takes THE UNFORGIVEN from an acceptable if forgettable paranormal romance to something I’d rather avoid in the future. If you like tortured alpha males and relationships that are magically ordained, there is a lot to enjoy in THE UNFORGIVEN. However, I think I’ll continue to get my paranormal romance with a dash of crazy (and a boatload of humor) over with The Immortals After Dark.