Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: JMS Books
Length: 41 Pages
Category: Fantasy, BDSM
At a Glance: I have loved this author’s work in the past, and am sure I will in the future, but this one was not up to the normal excellence I am used to in reading a JL Merrow story.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: How do you know if you’re one of the damned?
As a child, Don wanted to become a priest. Now a grown man mostly at ease with being gay, he’s left the Catholic Church and has chosen instead to help people through his work as a parole officer.
His strong faith is shaken when his latest assignment turns out to be Michael, a young man Don hasn’t seen since he took Michael to church as a child — and saw his parish priest cast Michael out of the church as a demon.
Meeting him as an adult re-ignites the obsession Don had with the boy he couldn’t save. But can Michael be saved at all? Or is the strangely compelling demon with a taste for risky sex as damned as he believes himself to be?
Review: Don is now a parole officer, and when his newest client walks into his office, Don finds himself thrust some twenty years into the past. Back then, a new boy in school was all alone and Don decided to befriend him—walk him home after his first day. On the way, church attendance came up and Don found it odd that the boy was not allowed to attend. When he took the boy to his catholic church and tried to make him use the holy water, it became quite clear why Michael, the new boy, wasn’t allowed in church. Something is terribly wrong with Michael and now, some twenty years later, Don is about to find out exactly what it is.
Angel is a bit of a departure from the types of stories I am used to reading by JL Merrow. Beyond the fact that I felt the story was way too short, which meant getting a real emotional fix on the characters was problematic, the tale itself was very different. With more than its fair share of religious overtones, the idea that a demon is nothing more than a fallen angel is not a new one, but that mere attendance at church can change a demon so dramatically was most definitely a unique take on an old tried and true trope.
I wanted to like both Don and Michael, and I truly feel that had I been given just a bit more time I would have been able to without any hesitation. However, this short story skimmed over so many important emotional moments that were needed to establish the idea that a relationship was in the making between Don and Michael, and instead, seemed to rush to a happy, or at least hopeful, conclusion way too rapidly. I had no time to invest in either man due to the fact that I barely got to know them. Instead, I was thrust into the future where two men who met briefly as boys were now meant to have some definite unfulfilled desire for each other. Because there was so little background to go on, the idea that the two were attracted to each other was rather unbelievable to say the least.
Angel could have been a truly captivating story and still remained shorter in nature had the author taken just a little bit more time developing some background on the two boys and establishing their friendship at an earlier age. This then would have given much more credence to the sexual tension and Don’s desire to save Michael. Instead, we were given what felt like an unfinished bit of writing and then asked to make way too many leaps of faith in order to make it convincing. I have loved this author’s work in the past, and am sure I will in the future, but this one was not up to the normal excellence I am used to in reading a JL Merrow story.
You can buy Angel here: