Review: Dirty Angel by Barbara Elsborg

Dying Sucks

Particularly when you discover there really is a hell. Aden thinks there’s no way he can avoid going down, but when an angel and demon can’t agree over his fate, Aden is given one more month to gain redemption. He doubts he can find a way to become a better man in so short a time. But it’s worth a try, right?

Living sucks 

Particularly when you can’t shake free of an obsessive ex. Brody might be managing to hold down his job as a vet, but his personal life is a mess. If he doesn’t pull himself together soon, he’s going to be sliding downhill too fast to stop. 

One wet night, on a dark country lane, two worlds collide and destinies change forever.

What a surreal reading experience. I'm not sure if Elsborg is some sort of precog or what, but I do know this was written and released pre-Orlando, but reading it post-Orlando inspired some existential feels. When did terrorist attacks become accepted as a part of the fabric of our existence? When did they become a plausible happenstance when leaving our homes? Back in the day the number one fear of going out was not getting picked up by the popo on the way home from the club not whether or not you'd make it home ALIVE. 

Aden goes out for an innocent night of fun and never gets to go home again. Instead he finds himself in a weird place with lots of ether about to stand judgment for his life. At first he thinks he's dreaming and can't wake up, but the fact that he can't remember going to sleep is troubling. Naturally, this got me thinking about those 49 people who maybe found themselves in a similar situation.

Needless to say I had some... moments but the level of romance Elsborg injected into Dirty Angel balanced out a lot of them. I found the experience soothing to an extent in the wake of yet another avoidable tragedy. 

Aden is given a second chance-one month to prove himself worthy of Heaven, to find out the meaning of love which will decide his fate. Heaven or Hell. He has the power to impact how his eternity will be spent. 

No money.
No lying.
No friends.
No phone.
No going home.
Seven chances at redemption.

Aden's truly not a bad person. He's been dealt a shit hand that has colored his worldview. He doesn't allow himself to get close to other people because they've repeatedly disappointed him. He has a tendency to be opportunistic and has used people, but he's far from diabolical.

"I've been lost all my life," Aden replied quietly. 
"Not lost," Brody squeezed his fingers. "Just undiscovered."

Brody and Aden meet almost immediately when Brody hits him with his car. Aden takes off for fear of having to explain things to the police/EMTs and is discovered camped out in Brody's horse's stall the next morning. I really loved that horse. Captain is fussy, kind of intimidating and highly intuitive. That horse is a keeper.

Brody's a veterinarian who's trying to keep a low profile due to a past abusive/obsessive relationship, so he's moved to the country to live on the family farm. Brody has also developed a rather unhealthy addiction to anonymous sex which has gotten out of hand.

Both men have pasts that have shaped them and continue to affect them in many ways and both must battle their pasts to a certain extent to gain what they want most.

"They prefer to swim in pairs with their tales linked. Sounds like fun, linking tails."

Elsborg is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors for a  couple of reasons. First and foremost, I appreciate that she doesn't sugarcoat life. Her characters usually have to contend with awful childhoods or tragedies or what have you, be able to come to grips with that before getting to the HEA which I find makes the reading experience more rewarding. Second, DAMN! can she bring the romance and the heat. This was swoony-I'm-gonna-pass-out romance. Sooooo much kissing and wanting and desire and sexiness.

Also, I liked getting my learn on with all the miscellaneous animal knowledge. The psycho ex-boyfriend storyline is predictable and the pieces fall together quickly, but that's not the focus of this book. Dirty Angel is about two men who have been knocked around in life figuring out if they're right for each other and trying to figure out how to get the love thing right. Or at least right enough to be with each other and make the most out of a second chance.

If you're looking for a romance that'll put a smile on your face and a swoon in your step, give this a try.

Trigger Warnings:  on page violence, mentions of childhood sexual abuse, on page rape and terrorist attack

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads.

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