Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Angel of Mercy by Toni Andrews

Angel of Mercy is the second in the Mercy Hollings series by Toni Andrews. Picking up from where Beg for Mercy ended, it finds Mercy trying to resume her life following the traumatic events of the previous book. It's slightly difficult to summarize the plot of this one - more of that later - but a lot of the story is concerned with Mercy trying to help out at a battered woman's refuge and how once again her use of the 'press' has unforeseen consequences.

I didn't like this book quite as much as the first for some reasons and slightly more than the first for other reasons. I know that doesn't make much sense now, but hopefully I'll explain myself during the review and by the end it will.

On the liking of the book first. I think Mercy is one of the few UF heroines who has a normal human friend. Someone who's there to slap her upside the head when she's doing something stupid. It makes a refreshing change. This is one of the things that raises this series for me, the fact that Mercy has relationships with people - not just people who want to have sex with her, or who want to control her power or use her, but actual relationships. I like that she has a rottweiler called Cupcake which she owns on a part-time basis with Sukey her best friend.

Sukey really starts to come into her own in this book. She acts as a foil to Mercy, her cheerful and sunny personality contrasting with Mercy's more dark and sombre one. Their experience with Dominic has left them with a telepathic connection which Sukey thinks is cool, but Mercy isn't so sure.
Sukey grinned like a happy six-year old. "Can we do an experiment? I have some ideas."
I'd bet she had.
Sukey gives Mercy a link to her humanity and keeps her grounded. I love that she spends most of this book teaching herself how to be a detective from a book titled - The Exciting World of Private Investigation.

Meanwhile, Mercy's relationship with Sam comes under strain.
Something in his tone made me look at him - really look at him. Wow, he's really pissed.
She is unable to tell him her secret and discovers that he has also been keeping secrets from her. You slightly want to scream at them to 'talk to each other!'. You understand her reasons for behaving the way she does, but she could handle it better.

Having seen off Dominic in the previous book she is the only supernatural creature about. I count this as another plus. Rather than having a story over-run with every creature going - and there's nothing wrong with that - we have a very tight focus on Mercy, her relationships and her problems both with her powers and with her life. It makes for a very different UF read. (Slightly bummed that Dominic won't be coming back by the way, he was one of the best bad guys I'd read in a while).

Toni Andrews makes it clear that the power of the press - the ability to force someone to do something - is both a blessing and a curse. The wrong words said in haste can have terrible repercussions, but Mercy is only human - she gets angry, she gets upset, she reacts without thinking and then tells herself she's never going to do it again. (Yes, if you haven't guessed, she suffers from the traditional UF heroine fault of not listening to her inner voice, even when it's screaming at her not to do something.)

Bearing all that in mind, the main problem I had with this book is the plot structure. If you read the blurb it sounds like Mercy's intervention at the battered women's refuge will be the main focus of the plot, but this storyline is wrapped up with about 50 pages to go. We then end the book with Mercy (with encouragement from Sukey and help from The Exciting World of Prifvate Detection) pursuing information that may shed light onto Mercy's past - who she is, what she is. That is maybe Mercy's main goal in this book, trying to answer the question of whether she's human. But because that story is running parallel to the story about Anna and Grace, the ending is a little bit mishmashy, and kind of just peters out.

I'm going to stick with this series as it is different to the other UF stuff out there. But I hope there's a little more focus on the plot in the next one.

Book 1 - Beg for Mercy
Book 3 - Cry Mercy (June 2009)


Sayuri said...

I have read the first in this series but not the second (i do own it though) because when i read the battered women's plotline part of me just went..Urgh! Not interested. What I am inteested in IS finding out about mercy's origin etc. SO if that has a larger part in this installments plotlines, I think I may look at this again.
Plus, I think Mercy and Sam slipt in this and I am kind of sick of these on again off again romances in UF. It's really frustrating me latley.

LesleyW said...

Sayuri - I'd say the split is about 60/40 in favour of the battered women plotline. But the structure of the plot is strange.

The Anna and Grace plot is virtually wrapped up by page 246, though Mercy does visit with the again for a short while. The book is 312 pages though, so that's another 56 pages about Mercy and her relationships and trying to find out who she is before the book ends.

The Mercy and Sam relationship does suffer during the course of this book. I suspect book 3 will go one of two ways - either they'll get together and it will be a stronger relationship than before. Or Mercy has another love interest on the horizon.