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Book Review: The Collector by Victoria Scott

“As you know, it’ll be held in the gymnasium. We’ll be selling tickets during lunch all week. So don’t forget to buy yours or you’ll be left dateless like me.”

Charlie stops. Her smile falters, but she quickly recovers. “I would know…only ugly losers…” She stops reading the cue cards. Then she gazes right into the camera and freezes.
People in the classroom laugh nervously.

Taylor. She messed with the cue cards. I should have known. I should’ve known!

I bolt from my desk and run for the door.

Behind me, I hear the teacher yelling my name, but there’s no way I’m stopping this time. My sneakers thump against the floor as I run down the hallway, into the cafeteria, and down another longer corridor. I’m heading to the journalism room, but I stop suddenly when I hear the sound of quick footsteps coming from the closest bathroom. Somehow, I know it’s her.

The bathroom doesn’t have a door, just an entrance that turns sharply so you can’t see inside. I don’t even check to see if anyone’s watching. I just go halfway in, knock on the wall, and say, “Charlie? You in here?”

The footsteps stop briefly.

Yep. It’s gotta be her.

I go the rest of the way inside and find her pacing in front of the restroom stalls. Her back is to me as she says, “You can go, Dante. I’m fine.” But when she turns to pace in the opposite direction, I see the truth. Her face is pink and blotchy and her eyes hold so much pain, it rips something apart inside of my chest.

My hands curl and uncurl, and my breathing comes harder and faster. Who do these people think they’re messing with? This girl has been assigned to me. Boss Man wants her soul, which means anyone messing with her—is messing with me. And they’re about to find out exactly what that’s like.

I turn abruptly from Charlie and storm toward the hall.

“Dante,” she says. Her voice becomes urgent. “Dante, don’t.”

I head down the hallway, gaining speed, unstoppable.

As I round the corner, I see Taylor and one of her boy-toys laughing. They’re having a grand ol’ time mocking my girl. The guy sees me and his mouth turns up on one side. “Oh, here comes the boyfriend. Did you catch our show, boyfriend?”

I don’t stop. I keep moving. One second, Dick Head is standing upright and the next my fist slams into his jaw. He hits the floor with a hard thud. I jump on his chest and throw my fist over and over into his face. I’m a big guy, there’s no denying that, but what’s more—I’m a mother fucking demon. And now the guy below me knows what it’s like to piss one off. When the guy’s eyes roll back in his head, I stand up and wipe blood from my knuckles.

Then I look at Taylor.

Fear screams in her eyes. I approach her slowly. She backs up until her shoulder blades hit the lockers behind her. “Dante, I—”

I cover her mouth with my hand. “Shut up.”

I step so close I can practically feel her heart beating. The hand not covering her mouth flicks, and her soul light flips on. Just as I expected, she’s coated in sin seals.

What I don’t expect are the two sparkly, pink seals. What the hell? Did Charlie do this?
Right now, I don’t care. All I care about is delivering what this girl deserves. Usually, the size seal I can assign is based on the sin. But this time—just this once—I’m going to take a little liberty.

I close my eyes and pull as much as I can out of my core, then I let go. A seal the size of Canada attaches to her soul light. And oh, sweet mercy, I can tell Taylor feels it. Actually feels that I just took something sacred from her.

My mouth curls into a smile.

“Pow, bitch.”

Dante Walker is the personification of bad.  A collector of souls for the Bad Guy himself, set free to walk upon the Earth, Dante’s good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of Hell’s best, and he knows it. Sealing souls isn’t personal- it’s just the job. Until Charlie, that is, because the Boss wants Charlie bad, and is willing to promote Dante if he can seal her soul in 10 days. Dante doesn’t know why the Boss Man wants her so bad. and doesn’t care; it’s a permanent ticket out of hell for him. However, Charlie becomes more than an assignment- and Dante discovers that he’s not as distant as he seems.

As the TOP collector of souls for the Devil, Dante has been working on passing judgement for the Boss Man since he died at the age of 17. Released on Earth only for short sprints to seal souls of sinners, Dante leaps at the chance to be promoted to head reaper, and the assignment seems simple- deliver the soul of Charlie Cooper in 10 days. Yet, Charlie is as innocent as they come, and her soul shines. She ends up making Dante believe in himself in ways he never believed he could, and as his heart changes, the stakes only rise. Can he save himself and Charlie before she’s cursed to Hell? 

Dante can be hit or miss with some readers, and his attitude can miss the mark at times and make a reader want to cringe. However, his change throughout the book is dramatic, as well as Charlie’s transformation, and through that he is redeemed (in more ways than one). The world Scott builds is very detailed (how they seal the souls, why they’re doing it, etc.) and the ideas build upon the next so that the reader is left waiting for the second in the series, The Liberator to know what happens in the struggle that is coming.  Very good paranormal romance, and alluring to readers that it’s in a guy’s voice.  I’m not sure that male readers will pick it up as much as female ones (with the *ewwww kissing* factor) but that remains to be seen.  3.5 stars.  Would pair it with books like Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Obsidian or Wendy Higgins Sweet Evil for the romance, or Kim Harrison’s Madison Avery series for the paranormal aspect.  Goodreads lists The Collector at 3.82 stars as of April 23, 2013.

Karen’s 2 Cents: I also read The Collector and seriously ended up enjoying it.  Dante is a bad boy, kind of a version of Spike-lite, and I loved his snark and wit and confidence.  I also loved the effect that Charlie had on all of the above (Yay for Charlie by the way!).  I was curious as to how it would work to write such a smug character and still get the reader to like him, but Scott epically pulls it off.  I also love the discussion of inner versus outer beauty.  In fact, although this could appear to be a fun, surface type of read, there is some real substance here and I really appreciated that.  Yes, it was a seriously fun read, but I think it also drives home some of my favorite life lessons in completely non-obvious, non-teachy ways: people are more than what they look like on the outside and people can be redeemed.  I really liked the characters and the dialogue, they are pitch perfect, and would give it 4 stars (maybe even 4.5).  This one could be (and should be) huge and popular. (edited 4/30/2013 so Karen could add her 2 cents)

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