There is a lot going on in this book with plenty of what JR Ward does best: well-written men, cliff hangers and incredible world building. But what really sets this series and this book apart is Devina--the villain of the series. She's the best female character Ward has ever written (to bad she's evil incarnate)-but she's just so great to hate. I'll get back to that.
This book carries on immediately from book 2 in the series. There are roughly 3 plot threads--the fight between the fallen angels and Devina, the relationships between the archangels who control the gates of heaven and are fighting Devina, and finally the romance between Veck, the detective hero, and Reilly, the Officer heroine.
Jim Heron is The Savior, a man chosen by Heaven, represented by Nigel, an archangel, and hell, represented by Devina, because he is equally good and bad. It has been really interesting to see him grow in strength realize his personal potential for good and bad. He seems to have a crush/obsession with a 19 year old who was sacrificed by Devina in an earlier book. The death of this character is central to the plot in Envy. Wow--got to give Ward credit for weaving it all so flawlessly. Jim just exactly what we like about Ward men. Enough said.
Devina, on the other hand . . . wow. She's EVIL. But hilarious. For example, she sees a therapist and also has a huge crush on Jim. She is the best Ward female ever written because she's just unabashedly HER. Love to hate her, like I said.
Jim is fighting Devina with the help of two fallen angels--Eddie and Adrian. These two have a long history with Devina which we learn in bits and pieces. Basically they're renegades who've been keeping each other company and fighting Devina. Company seems to include "hands-on" manage a trois.
The relationships between the archangels are still in development because their side stories are in many ways inexplicable. If you're familiar with Ward she always develops little side plots that may not reveal themselves until much later. I'm hoping that was the case here. In sum we learn that Nigel, the lead archangel, has a little tiff with another archangel (can't call it a true fight because the archangels, unlike the fallen angels, are well-bred golf clappers who even have English accents). I say inexplicable because it's still not clear what role they all have and what they do exactly.
Finally, there is the romance. I found Ward due to it's classification in the "romance genre" but I continue to read her for the World Building and consider the romance a bonus. In Envy, there is one major bummer about the romance--I won't totally spoil it--but it was something that while was central to the plot, seemed to seriously undermine the chance of the romance being long-term. We met Veck, the hero, in Lover Un--something, Ward's last book, when he had a run-in with a vampire that led directly to the story we see in Envy. Veck is typical Ward. He's huge, hot and hardcore. He also doesn't feel he's worthy of the good girl--which is exactly what Reilly, the heroine is--a cotton-underwear-wearing-rule-follower. She was a disappointment because her character didn't grow much. In my opinion she had a chance and didn't excel when she could have. Despite that she does seem to be the perfect match to Veck and I cared enough to be invested in their relationship.
The most interesting part of the romance was that the hero, Veck is the look-alike son of an infamous serial killer who is scheduled for death row. One of the major elements of his character was that fans of his father's were constantly trying to ingratiate themselves into his life. If that wasn't bad enough he was born with evil in his DNA, and has elements of his personality which are predisposed to evil, just like his father. It's interesting and I wish it had been explored even more.
The world Ward has created here is truly unique. There is nothing out there even close. Ward's take on heaven and hell is simply fascinating and I love learning about it. For example Jim has a dog which keeps him company while he fights Devina. A character asks Jim. "whose dog is that?" Jim says, "Everybody's, really." DOG. GOD. There is no chance in hell this would be palatable for some people, but if you're willing to be open minded I think there is a lot of wisdom.
This really is a great book in this genre, one of the best Ward has written in awhile. Devina and Jim continue to grow and surprise me and I enjoy them both. We shall see if the sacrificed virgin Jim is obsessed with (who was hinted to be stronger that she looks) can usurp Devina as the lead female.
Looking forward to the next installment! Great work JR WARD!