The world and the characters in Meljean Brooks’ Guardian series continue to evolve in this fourth full length installment. There are some pretty big revelations here, especially in the origin story. But first and foremost, this is a romance… so I will start there first.
We got our first real look at Jake in the last book. He is the novice Guardian who Ethan has been training. He has the dubious distinction of being the guy who let Charlie get taken –and eventually turned into a vampire. He’s a likeable man, and young for a Guardian. He’s got a healthy sex drive and mouth that’s not always connected to his brain. But he’s charming and he’s got a good heart, so it’s pretty impossible not to like him.
Our heroine is Alice, AKA The Black Widow, AKA The Wicked Witch of the West. She is a reclusive Guardian who is more than a little peculiar. She dresses with full Victorian modesty. And she has a thing about spiders. She surrounds herself with them, as communing with them is part of her Gift. She knows other people think her odd, and she even goes out of her way, at times, to encourage them to keep their distance. As disturbing as that is, what’s even more troubling is that she has made a bargain with a demon — one that is impossible to overlook. She has to kill Michael and deliver his heart or be damned for eternity.
Of course Alice had her reasons for making the deal. More importantly, she doesn’t want to carry it out. But she knows that soon a reckoning will come, and she is not too keen on taking her place in that frozen field of hell. So she is working on a contingency plan, trying to find something else to barter with. This sets us up for her quest to learn more about the prophecies involving Belial’s ascension in hell.
Jake is really quite interested in the histories and ancient discoveries that are part of Alice’s exploration, which drives him (a bit hesitantly) into her orbit. At first, she really creeps him out, but as he gets to know her, she starts to grow on him. And before he knows it, he’s kind of crazy about her.
I like that Brook really goes out of her way to craft unusual characters. But there were times Alice veered too far out of my comfort zone. It wasn’t so much the spider thing –though I know that many will find that creepy– as her social dysfunction and sexual hangups. The dichotomy between her prudishness and sexual needs were tough for me at times. I wasn’t always sure what she wanted from Jake. And it bothered me that despite the fact that these two had sex on page a few times, I don’t think she ever actually got naked.
I did adore Jake, however. He is so entertainingly unable to be tactful. Once he decides his feeling for Alice in earnest, he is so wonderful with her. I love that he sees past all of her weirdness and her whole deal-with-the-devil thing… and really goes all in to win her heart and save her soul.
Meljean Brook really gives the reader a lot of credit in her books. She doesn’t always give you a step-by-step of what is happening. Sometimes you have to connect the dots, which is both cool and occasionally confusing. But I enjoy the series overall. I really like the world-building, especially as it continues to broaden. And the secondary characters are well-drawn and engaging. Bring on Irena and Alejandro, y’all. I am ready to take that ride.
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Meljean Brook
Release Date: November 4, 2008