August 6, 2013

An Illustrated Review: Guardian Demon by Meljean Brook


Source: A review copy was provided by the author. 

Warning: One spoiler for the previous books and one somewhat vague spoiler of something that happens in the first chapter of this one.

As you guys know (because I keep telling you), this is my favorite series, and the final book, Guardian Demon, was one of my most anticipated book of, well, ever. So it's a bittersweet moment for me, because as much as I enjoyed the book, saying goodbye to a beloved series is never easy. The good news is that I read the book in May, so I’ve had time to get over the book hangover, and this review won’t be a blubbering mess.

Remember how Nath and I wrote a post filled with theories about the book? Well, it turns out that we suck at guessing, because of all our theories the only one we kind of got right was this one:


Wrong Dragon
Please, stop thinking about dragon sex.

Except that in the book it looks something like this:

Right Dragon... Thing


That’s a scene from the first chapter and it sets up the main conflict of the romance. What Dragon-Michael does to Taylor is almost unforgivably bad, but also serves as a way to bring down and humanize a guy who wouldn't have worked as a hero otherwise. And of course, other than figuring out how to be together (or if Taylor wants to be with Michael), they also have to deal with… stuff.

Man, I’m getting really good at summarizing plots.

The reason why I’m hesitant to say more about the story is because the book almost reads like a suspense novel, even if the rules of the genre guarantee a happy ending. But even knowing things will eventually resolve, there’s a feeling of incertitude and fear for the characters’ fate that permeates the whole reading experience, and I don’t want to rob someone of the whole experience by inadvertently giving away a minor detail or spoiler. So I’ll just say that there is a lot going, but everything that happens feeds the relationship between the characters at the core of the story. And that we get to see old friends in important roles that don’t feel like intrusive fan service.

When a book is surrounded by so much love and expectations, there’s always the possibility that it will disappoint those who spent years feeding said love. Add to that a hero whose heroic qualities are dubious not because he’s morally corrupt, but because he’s perfect to the point of unattainable, we get a recipe for possible disaster. But as I said, the first thing that happens is that Michael stops being perfect, not only to us, but to Taylor. And so, not only does the love story become possible, but we almost become active participants in Taylor’s journey. The end result is an incredibly satisfying conclusion to the series.

As much as I was intrigued by Michael, Taylor was the one I really cared about. I’ve liked her since I first met her all those books ago, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her even before I knew she would be the final heroine. She’s always been an outsider who was forced to share the world with angels, demons and vampires, but who never felt comfortable or even accepted them. She’s a complex woman filled with strengths and very much aware of her vulnerabilities. She’s also torn between what’s right and what she wants to do, which is her main journey in this book, even taking preference over the impossible romance. The story is about her as an individual as much as it is about them as a couple.

On the other hand, Michael took some getting used to. Ms. Brook’s brand of alpha male is different from what Paranormal Romance has us used to. These guys are strong leaders who take action, but they are not overbearing or abusive. However, Michael is really, really old and really, really powerful, something that complicates things. I was surprised by how believable his otherness was. It’s so easy to turn a character like that into a joke, but there’s nothing particularly laughable or exaggerated about him. It’s so well done that it made it hard for me to find something about him that read human or relatable; a problem I shared with Taylor. The problem gets slowly resolved once she begins to see him under a different light, so his transformation actually takes place within her.

Guardian Demon was perfect for me, but it is not a perfect book. There is a lot going on in the story, and some parts felt rushed while others felt slow, so the pacing was uneven, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some readers found it boring, especially those unfamiliar with the series or not as emotionally invested as long-time fans. Certain resolutions happen too conveniently, and although there’s some clever foreshadowing that makes said convenience seem clever and surprising, I thought it was more about creating a problem impossible to solve without the use of certain elements that looked a lot like deus ex machina. But these are things easy to ignore with such an engrossing and riveting story, and considering everything the book accomplishes, they are nothing but minor issues.

The review is already way too long, so I should warp things up, but I can’t leave without saying just how happy the book made me. I realize this review is even more subjective than usual, so you should take it with a bigger grain of salt, but the best endorsement I can give Guardian Demon is that I’m an unabashed fan of the series, I’ve been dying with the anticipation to read the book, and I can honestly say that this is the conclusion such a wonderful series deserves. If you’re new to the books, go back and read them in order, and please forget that Michael gets turned into a dragon, because that’s one of the coolest parts of the series.
 
Review by Brie
Grade: 1… As if! This is my favorite book of the year and it deserves all the stars, or in this case, 5. 
Sensuality: McSteamy
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:
In this thrilling conclusion to the Guardian series, New York Times bestselling author Meljean Brook delivers another stunning page-turner, in which the fate of humanity depends upon a tortured warrior winning the trust—and heart—of the woman he wounded… 
After a terrifying encounter in Hell destroys her trust in Michael, the Guardian’s powerful leader, former detective Andromeda Taylor is ready to call it quits as one of the angelic warriors and resume her human life again. But when demonic forces threaten her closest friends and she uncovers a terrifying plot devised by Lucifer, Taylor is thrown straight into Michael’s path again… 
To defeat Lucifer, Michael needs every Guardian by his side—and he needs Taylor more than any other. The detective is the key to keeping his own demonic side at bay, and Michael will do anything to protect her and keep her close. And when Taylor manifests a deadly power, her Gift might tip the scales in the endless war between Heaven and Hell…or it might destroy them both with a single touch.
Guardian Demon (Guardian Series) by Meljean Brook
Berkley. August 6, 2013.

11 comments:

  1. Oh, man, that illustration! Still laughing here. Completely agree with how well Michael's humanisation was done. I was always a bit doubtful about the idea of Michael as a romance hero, because he seemed so beyond human, but Brook got it right.

    And if it's any consolation, my review is just as subjective as yours. Yes, the book is not perfect (my biggest issue was the order in which certain elements are solved at the end), but it made me happy and felt like it delivered the massive payoff that such an epic series deserved, so it was still an A.

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    Replies
    1. I was just reading your review and you're right about the order thing. But honestly, minor issues aside, the book thoroughly delivered everything I wanted and more. It's a great book for fans that stays true to the series without crossing into fan-service territory. I loved it.

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  2. I skipped a lot of the review because I want to judge for myself... but I'm glad that we're bad at guessing, Brie! but oh wow, now, you've put an image in my mind that I'll never be able to erase! LOL.

    Just glad that the series ends on a bang :)

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    1. Oh, it ends on a bang alright (pun totally intended).

      When you read that scene, you're going to laugh ;-)

      The book is awesome, nath. Read it soon so we can talk about it at length.

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  3. Those illustrations made me snort laugh Brie :) Ahhh, I haven't read Meljean's Guardian series yet although I have her first two books somewhere on my shelves. Do you have a particular favorite out these books?

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    1. I don't know.... I love them all for different reasons, but I think my favorites are Demon Night, Demon Bound and Demon Blood, but the heroine of Demon Forged is awesome, and Demon Marked is lots of fun. It's a very cohesive series in terms of story, quality and appeal, so it's impossible to pick just one. I do recommend reading the books in order, though.

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  4. Is it bad of me to say while I read that I wanted dragon Michael to get it on with Taylor?

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  5. Love the illustrations! I have only read the first book in the series so far but I have them all (except the last one) on my tbr for when I'm feeling the paranormal love again.

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  6. LOL Brie! I won't manage to imagine that dragon differently.

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The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.