Mercy Hollings is a woman with a curse. She has the ability to force others to do anything she tells them to with only the power of her mind. She calls it “the press” and it’s been her bane since she was a child. A foster kid, she was constantly moved from home to home, her curse often causing her problems and unintentional accidents. As a consequence, Mercy has become a loner, a woman afraid to make friends, afraid to take chances on people, afraid she’ll hurt someone or herself with a careless comment.
When her only friend, Sukey, gets in trouble with the wrong kind of guy, Mercy breaks her own rules and presses him to leave town post haste. But what she couldn’t have known was that his drug dealer, a man named Dominic, would come looking for the shipment that disappeared along with him. Dominic isn’t just a drug dealer, though, he may hold the secrets to Mercy’s origins, and perhaps even who her real parents are. As Mercy tries to balance the press with her new forming friendships, her new love, and the machinations of Dominic, she’ll find whole new depths to herself and her powers.
This is a paranormal romance, but the great thing about it is the focus on the characters, not just the couple. It’s a little rough, but not at all bad for a first book, and Toni Andrew’s potential shines through brightly. Mercy is a smart and conflicted character. Her relationship problems are real and understandable, and her learning experiences actually lead to personal growth and good character development. Too often, writers become stuck on a character’s fatal flaw, relying on it over and over again until it becomes a cliché plot device instead of an interesting premise. Andrews doesn’t make this mistake.
Her characters consistently change and develop throughout the book, and Mercy acknowledges her own mistakes and vows to change them, instead of merely going full speed ahead and never looking back. The powers mentioned in the book are interesting without being over the top, and the characters struggle with their ethics just as a real person would. I also like the fact that the sex scenes were kept to a minimum, but used where applicable. They were tastefully placed without detracting from the story, making them a fun read rather than something to slog through. The writing was a little rough, some descriptions and terms seemed jarring rather than titillating, but it wasn’t a total scene killer. I imagine she’ll get better with more writing practice.
The female characters in the book were well done, and as the story progressed you learned more about them, making them deeper and more interesting. I would have liked to see a few more women for Mercy to befriend, most of the characters she encounters are men and I hope this doesn’t hold true for the rest of the series. The one main character of color seems slightly stereotypical, but Latino characters are so rarely included in paranormal romance or speculative fiction in general that it’s still a positive sign, and it’s a character that I think we’ll continue to see. Andrews is deft at growing her characters, so I’m hoping this one sees some changes, too. There is also a gay couple as part of Mercy’s crew of new friends which I hope to hear more about in future books, as there just wasn’t time to learn much about them in the first round.
Over all, this is a good start to what looks to be an interesting series. I like Mercy and I like her friends, and I’m rooting for her and Sam all the way. I can’t wait to learn more about her past and where she may have come from, and I’m interested to see how Andrews develops as a writer.
I’m looking forward to diving into Angel of Mercy next. Look for that review tomorrow. Cry for Mercy will be reviewed Tuesday, along with a featured interview with Toni Andrews herself. Please check back.