In the second installment of Westbay’s (Revelations, 2018) fantasy series, an angel defies God and traverses multiple universes to save the mortal woman he loves.
Though angelic Alex Prescott knows that human Gwen Adams is not his destined soul mate, he has finally stopped denying his love for her. Unfortunately, it may be too late; someone has infected Gwen with a poison that’s slowly killing her. He believes her salvation is the Tree of Life, which can turn her immortal. But on the journey to the tree, Alex is unknowingly getting help from his and Gwen’s mutual friend, Jasper Mills, who initially hides from Alex that he’s a fellow angel. He partially heals Gwen, but he can’t completely cure her sickness. What Jasper truly wants is revenge against Alex, whom he blames for a transgression that happened long ago. Meanwhile, getting to the tree necessitates traveling through portals to other universes. Alex will need to find three gatekeepers, each with a key that can be obtained by fulfilling a quest or demand. Gwen, who knows Alex is an angel, isn’t certain that she can trust him. He had hurt her when he suddenly ignored Gwen after learning she was someone else’s soul mate. But the multiverse excursion is filled with surprises: Other angels enlighten Gwen about the histories of both Alex and Jasper, namely Alex’s former angelic love, Eva. While Alex is envious of Gwen and Jasper’s closeness (Jasper’s healing requires skin-to-skin contact), Gwen has reason to believe that Alex’s love for Eva continues to smolder after millennia.
Westbay’s novel hums with sexual tension. Gwen, for one, is clearly attracted to Alex and Jasper, and Jasper exacerbates her conflict by openly flirting with her (primarily to upset Alex). These scenes showcase the author’s ability to illustrate sexual tension without forgoing subtlety: “Something inside me, something greedy and lustful, had clawed its way to the surface….It wanted the heat that sizzled off of him, and it wanted it now.” The three main characters are complex individuals; though the narrative calls back events from the preceding book, it also continues to develop the cast with convincing backstories. Nevertheless, Jasper is a standout. He’s done something villainous (from the earlier installment, though it’s not the poisoning), but as the story progresses, he develops new feelings: guilt over his deed and genuine compassion for Gwen. At the same time, Gwen and Alex occasionally appear fickle, each of them endlessly going back and forth on whether they want to be together. There is, however, a later twist that, at least in part, explains their emotional discord. The final act entails a few other twists as well, all of which hold water, even if they’re sometimes predictable. There’s also copious suspense (Gwen’s in perpetual jeopardy), including encounters with creatures in other universes and one particularly dangerous quest. This book, like the first installment, ends with a sensational cliffhanger that may prompt readers to add Volume 3 to their reading lists.
Characters continually evolve and astonish in this exceptional supernatural tale.