jlgribble.com | book cover of Bellamy (Sons of the Fallen #5) by Jaclyn Osborn

The fated mate connection between Bellamy (avatar of Lust) and Phoenix (demon and all-around snarky dude) has been teased for a few books. Though we have only seen their interactions from other perspectives until now, their eventual clash was less inevitable and more like watching a train wreck in progress. I have a soft spot for the enemies-to-lovers trope, and this story doubled down on that concept in pretty much every way possible. After all, Bellamy and Phoenix are not merely on opposite sides of this war. They both fill significant positions in their respective hierarchies, and how they deal with their connection could tip the entire balance of the conflict that embroils them.

The angst is real in this book, through every stage of the evolving relationship. I thought I cried during the dark moment in Castor’s book? I ran through so many more tissues for this one. Even when I wanted to smack both men, I understood the constraints that prevented them from being one of the easier love matches, such as Galen and Gray managed.

However, for the first time, we see a more nuanced view of the “bad guys” from Phoenix’s position as one of his leader’s closest advisors. Osborn does an excellent job of portraying Phoenix as a singularly selfish character. He’s not an antihero; he is an unapologetic villain whose loyalties happen to change. No dramatic shift in his characterization occurs between the earlier books and this one so that Osborn could pull off a dramatic romance. His evolution follows naturally from what we’ve seen before.

Osborn again also avoids a potentially “saggy middle” book now that we’re on the descending side of the overall story arc. Multiple layers of the plot come together here, with secrets revealed and major events that move along the overall, nonstop pace. A plot twist I never saw coming shocked me, and it sets up the potential for even more conflict in the final two books. If book 4 upped the scope of this war, this book leads the readers inexorably toward the dark moment. The brothers experience a major loss that feels appropriate to the potential symbolism of the relationship between Bellamy and Phoenix.

This series is the sort I would binge-read if I hadn’t caught up to the publishing schedule! Two single brothers are left of the Sons of the Fallen, and I have a decent idea of Raiden’s love interest in book 6. I’m less clear on Alistair’s fate, but if my prediction comes true, the potential fallout will leave Bellamy and Phoenix looking like childhood sweethearts.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

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