May 2, 2014

REVIEW: Sweet Reckoning (The Sweet Trilogy #3)

Sweet Reckoning (The Sweet Trilogy #3), by Wendy Higgins
To Be Published April 29, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: e-book, received from Edelweiss
Genre: young adult paranormal romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(From Goodreads) It's Time.

Evil is running rampant and sweet Anna Whitt is its target. Nobody knows when or how the Dukes will strike, but Anna and her Nephilim allies will do anything necessary to rid the earth of the demons and their oppressive ways.

The stakes are higher than ever, and Anna is determined that the love she feels will be her strength, not a liability. But trying to protect the ones she loves while running for her life and battling demonic forces proves to be perilous—especially as faces are changing and trust is fleeting. When the Duke of Lust sends Anna’s great love, Kaidan Rowe, to work against her, Anna must decide how much she’s prepared to risk.

In the most sensual and fast-paced installment yet, Sweet Reckoning brings all the beloved Neph together one last time to fight for their freedom.

There must be a lot of pressure on authors to create "the perfect ending," both for themselves as artists and for the fans who support them. As an avid reader and blogger, I know I set my standards extremely high when it comes to the last books in the series that I count among my favorites. Unfortunately, all too often it seems this combination of expectations and desires causes series finales to fall short in the eyes of the fans.

Well, readers need not worry about Wendy Higgins' Sweet Trilogy finale, SWEET RECKONING. She has done a masterful job of bringing Anna's and Kai's story full circle. Better yet, she manages to do so without sacrificing pacing, plot or purpose. It's all there and then some.

The clock has finally wound down, and the Dukes' judgement day has arrived. Anna and her friends continue to try and rally allies and plan their final moves, which is difficult when they are being watched constantly. It's equally difficult for Anna to get any alone time with her boyfriend, Kai. But, before they know it, the Dukes and the Neph are right back where this journey started - in Las Vegas, fighting for their lives. And their souls.

When I look back at the character Anna was in the beginning of Sweet Evil, it's evident how far she has come and developed as events have unfolded. The change happened over time - more than two years pass over the course of these three books - and came as a result of experience and maturity. There was no insta-growth here. Anna went from a meek and proper girl who was completely ignorant about her past or her purpose to a leader and a warrior who was determined to get the job done, no matter the cost. The road to get there was hard. I absolutely LOVE that Wendy made it so challenging for her, too. It's impossible to not respect Anna and get behind her.

Speaking of character development - helloooooo Kai. He started off fairly flat and predictable. He's the son of the Duke of Lust. Of course he's a womanizer, he's gorgeous, he's charismatic. You don't expect there to be much underneath all that. If you thought you saw another side of Kai in Sweet Peril, hold on to your hats, because you haven't seen anything yet. The Kai in Sweet Reckoning is still gorgeous and charismatic, but he's also sweet, romantic, and, believe it or not, insecure. We also see a volatility in him, especially when it comes to Anna, that we've never seen before. Those qualities ramp up his swoon quotient to atomic levels.

It's impossible to have a book about angels and demons and not invoke some judeo-Christian elements in the story. In fact, I think this book would be lacking without those elements. Heaven, Hell, God, Lucifer, the Bible... they're all there in the appropriate places at the appropriate times. The addition of them make the story so much more believable.

All of the side characters from the first two books play a role in Sweet Reckoning. Marna, Ginger, Blake, Kopano, Zania, Jay, Veronica, Patty - they all make appearances. Things do not go as planned for all of them. I promise you, tears will be shed. But, in the end, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that nothing was gratuitous or unnecessary about any of the parts these characters played in the final book.

Keep your tissues nearby for the epilogue. TRUST ME on this one.

I finished the final word of Sweet Reckoning and felt nothing but completely satisfied and maybe a little bit giddy. It was joyful and funny and tragic and exciting. There's really nothing more you could ask for in the finale of an amazing series. 

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