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Saturday, May 12, 2012


Author:  Elisabeth Naughton 

Plot Type:  Soul-Mate Romance (SMR)
Ratings:  Violence4; Sensuality4; Humor2
Publisher and Titles:  
     Marked  (LoveSpell, 2010)(reprint from CreateSpace, 3/2012)
     Entwined  (LoveSpell, 2010)(reprint from CreateSpace, 3/2012)
     Tempted  (Sourcebooks, 2011)
     Enraptured  (Sourcebooks, 4/2012)  
     Enslaved  (Sourcebooks, 11/2012) 
     Bound  (CreateSpace, 11/2012)
     Twisted  (Elisabeth Naughton Publishing, Summer 2014)  

     This post was revised and updated on 7/4/14 to include a review of Bound, the sixth novel in the series. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the world-building and reviews of the first five novels.   

            NOVEL 6:  Bound   (Titus and Natasa)              
     Recap: The Argonauts' now have two of the four elements needed to complete the Orb of Krónos: earth and water. They still need water and fire. In the previous book, the evil Atalanta met her death, but the Argonauts and the Misos still face a plethora of enemies, all of whom want the Orb.

     In Enslaved, Titus first met Natasa, a lovely red-haired woman who has a connection with Maelea (heroine of Enslaved). Titus and Natasa are instantly and deeply attracted to one another, but she disappears after Theron orders her out of Argolea. As the story opens, Titus spots Natasa in disguise at a court ceremony, but she tries to evade him. Just as she leaps through a portal, he grabs her ankle and follows her through, losing his Argonaut pendant in the process. 

     Titus, a descendant of Odysseus, is a mind-reader and a loner who can't bear to be touched. Centuries ago, when he was young and arrogant, he used his mind-reading powers on a witchy girlfriend and then dumped her. In retaliation, the witch cursed him to feel all of the emotions of everyone he touched. These waves of emotion are so overwhelming to Titus that he always wears gloves and layers of clothing that keep all of his skin covered. Touching someone is so debilitating that it weakens him for hours afterward. Titus is a male with sexual needs, so he has worked out a kinky method of satisfying his urges through the cooperation of two willing residents of Argolea, but he longs for a real romantic relationship.

     Natasa is the daughter of Prometheus, a Titan who stole Olympic fire, whichagainst Zeus' ordershe gave to humans. To punish Prometheus, Zeus chained him to a rock for eternity while an eagle constantly tears out his ever-regenerating liver. Zeus fears Natasa because there is a prophecy that says that Prometheus's child will lead to the downfall of the Olympian king. Because of that prophecy, Zeus captured Natasa thousands of years ago and kept her in frozen stasis, but when the Argonauts freed the air element three months ago, she awakened and began to look for her father. Natasa burns with internal fire, which will soon overcome her if she can't find her father and discover how to control it.

     The book follows Natasa and Titus as they fall in love during a series of dangerous adventures involving various supernatural villains, including a tribe of Amazons and the satyrs of Zagreus (son of Hades). Natasa also faces danger at the hands of the Argonauts, most of whom believe that she is a spy working for Hades and that her fire will be the catalyst for the Apocalypse.

     Both Titus and Natasa keep many secrets from one another, which is generally the case in all of the love affairs in this series (and most other paranormal romances), so their love story is just as tortured and angst-filled as you would imagine. The secrets are revealed one at a time as the couple endures lots of physical duress and emotional pain. You know from the beginning that Titus and Natasa are soul mates, but, implausibly, they stumble along for most of the book not realizing their unique relationship. Natasa is the only person Titus has met whose mind is closed to his emotion-feeling curse (a major soul-mate clue), and Titus is the only one who has ever been able to cool down Natasa's heat (another obvious clue). When Titus' fellow Argonauts try to imprison Natasa, he turns his back on them and goes off with her on her quest for Prometheus. This story line ends with a major showdown between Titus, Natasa, and the major Olympian gods, and you may think that's the end, but no….the lovers' relationship faces one more major bump that is resolved in a slightly freaky manner that relies on a soupçon of S&M.

     Get ready for more big chunks of Greek mythology, this time the  lengthy Prometheus-Zeus and Hades-Zagreus stories with all their connections to other series characters. Once again, these info dumps bring the action to a halt each time they occur. In this case, Naughton's version of Greek mythology doesn't jibe with traditional versions. In the traditional myth, Prometheus and Io (Natasa's parents in Naughton's mythology) did not have children. Traditionally, Io's children (Epaphus and Keroessa) are both fathered by Zeus. Click HERE to view Prometheus' traditional genealogy.

     Meanwhile, the Demetrius/Isadora/Nick love triangle gets really messy when Nick declares that he is Isadora's soul mate and tries to convince her to leave Demetrius and come with him to the Misos colony (even though she is hugely pregnant with Demetrius' child). That situation builds to a major climax that will be the foundation for the sixth novelNick's storywhich is supposedly due sometime this summer (although as of this date, I haven't been able to find it on 

     This is a typical novel for this series: passionate characters, plenty of angst, graphic love scenes, lots of action, and a set-up for the next book. If you haven't been keeping up with this series, this is not the place to start because it has many, many references to past events and characters that will keep you in a state of confusion, even with the aid of the very brief glossary that Naughton includes at the back of the book. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Bound.

     This is a typical immortal warriors series in which each book follows the progression of a soul-mate romance. The warrior-guardians here are the Argonauts  from Greek mythology—descendants of the seven strongest heroes who accompanied Jason on his ship, the Argo, on his quest for the Golden Fleece. All of the descendants of the Argonauts now live in Argolea, a realm parallel to mortal Earth, where they spend their time protecting their homeland and transporting to mortal Earth to kill daemons.

     Argolea is ruled by King Leonides, who is supported (and second guessed) by the Council. The power-hungry council members believe that the Argonauts have too much influence and power and view them as a threat. Since Argolea has been at peace for so long (due primarily to the vigilance of the Argonauts), some Council members want to eliminate the Argonauts completely and replace them with an army selected by the Council.

     Over the centuries, the Argonauts visited Earth, where some had liaisons with mortal women that resulted in half-breed offspring who call themselves the Misos. At the very beginning of the series, the current Argonauts are unaware that there are thousands of Misos now living on mortal Earth. Unfortunately, though, the daemons know that they exist, and consequently, the Misos are under constant daemon attack.

     The series story arc involves the evil Atalanta, who was one of the few females among the original Argonauts. Atalanta was passed over when it came time to select the seven strongest, and she now lives only for revenge. Atalanta commands an army of daemons and sends them out daily to kill Argonauts and Misos. As the series opens, Atalanta uses the souls of her daemons' victims as gifts to Hades to ensure her immortality. The series has another sinister pair of villains: Hades, god of the underworld, and his wife, Persephone. This couple doesn't want revenge; they just like to cause trouble because they feed on pain and suffering. Hades and Persephone enjoy interfering in the affairs of all of the characters—both good and bad—for their own amusement. 

     Also a central element of the series story arc is the search for the Orb of Krónos and its four elemental parts: earth, air, fire, and water, which were scattered across the human world by Prometheus. Kronus (sometimes spelled Cronus) was the leader of the gods until his son, Zeus, imprisoned him in Tartarus (the Underworld). Everyone is searching for the Orb and its four elements, each for a different reason, but all having to do with power.

     Centuries ago, the goddess Hera cursed the Argonauts by decreeing that each one would be granted oneand only onesoul mate. Hera further specified that the soul mates would be "the worst possible match who would torment their existence." (Tempted, p. 204) Each book follows the tortured path of an Argonaut as he finds his soul mate and (after a REALLY rocky romance) gets his HEA. 

     The main problem with this series for me is that instead of blending the Greek mythology gently into the story, the author just stops the action and dumps it into the plot in huge, hard-to-swallow chunks. To use another analogy, it's like you're speeding down the open highway when, all of a sudden, you encounter a huge traffic jam that brings you to a complete halt, forcing you to work your way through it before you can continue your journey. This does not make for a pleasant experience—reading or driving. Other than that, the characters are kind of flat, but the plot (except for those mythology-heavy sections) moves right along. Most of the mythology follows traditional Greek myths, but sometimes characters and events are added or changed in order to fit the plots. So…it's a combination of real mythology and faux mythology. I have added pink-links to each true mythological character's name so that you can read the common myths that surround each one. Sometimes thoughas in the case of Natasa in Boundno such person exists among the accessible Greek myths, and Prometheus was rescued not by Titus (as portrayed in Bound), but by Hercules. Click HERE to view Prometheus' genealogy.  

     This is a typical immortal-warriors romance series, with its über-alpha heroes and its fragile heroines. Although the action slows down when the mythology sections appear, it does kick back in eventually. The characters have appropriately tragic back stories, but they're all fairly stereotypical to this sub-genre.

     Click HERE to go to a page on Naughton's web site with biographies of some of the Argonaut heroes. Here is a list of Naughton's snapshot portraits of the Argonaut heroes: 

Theron is dark haired, duty bound and deceptively deadly. He’s the leader of the Argonauts, an elite group of guardians that defends the immortal realm from threats of the Underworld.

Zander is the most feared of all the Eternal Guardians. It’s rumored he can’t be killed, and he always fights like he has nothing to lose. But as a descendant of the famed hero Achilles, he’s got to have a vulnerability… somewhere.

Demetrius is the hulking, brooding warrior his fellow Guardians avoid. Too dark. Too damaged. And given his heritage, he knows it’s best to keep everyone at arm’s length

Orpheus is an enigma, a devil-may-care rogue who does whatever he pleases whenever he wants. Now this loose cannon is part of the Eternal Guardians­—elite warriors assigned to protect the human realm—whether he likes it or not. 

Gryphon is honorable, loyal, dependable…tainted. He was the ultimate warrior before imprisonment in the Underworld changed him in ways he can’t ignore.

Titus’ gift seems like a blessing, but for him it’s a curse the other Eternal Guardian seek to exploit. One he would gladly trade for the chance to be free…even to the detriment of the world he’s bound to protect.

Nick is the leader of the half-breeds, the last true hero, and the son of a psychotic Titan. He’s spent his life fighting a dark pull toward the gods he doesn’t understand.  

     If you love to read about the adventures of sexy immortal warriors, click HERE to go to the CREATURE SEARCH on my blog. Just scroll down to the sub-heading IMMORTAL WARRIORS and click on any series name to get a  review of that series and a chronological list of the book titles.  

            NOVEL 1: Marked   (Theron & Casey)            
     As Marked opens, Theron, a descendant of Heracles (aka Hercules) and leader of the Argonauts, is sent to Earth to bring back the half-breed daughter of the dying King Leonides. The king wants to fulfill a prophecy that decrees that when his two daughters meet, they will join together, absorbing each other's essence, with only one surviving the blending. What Theron doesn't realize when he takes the assignment is that that half-breed daughter is his one and only soul mate. Her name is Acacia (Casey) Simopolous, and she lives in small-town Oregon, which is where Theron first meets her in the strip club where she works part time as a waitress.  

     So...we have two half-sisters, daughters of King Leonidas: Casey, the half-human/half-Argolean, and Isadora, the full Argolean who is expected to survive the blending and become the next queen. Both are very ill—near death, actually. Casey has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and Isadora appears to be fading away. The solution to both their health problems is for them to meet and touch, but that would mean that one will die while the other will absorb all of the dying sister's strength and power. When Theron realizes the implications of all this, he has to make a difficult decision: defy his king or kill his soul mate. The plot follows the ups and downs of the romance as Theron wrestles with his emotions while the daemons keep trying to grab Casey, and Hades and Persephone muddy the waters with their demonic shenanigans. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Marked.

            NOVEL 2: Entwined   (Zander & Callia)                 
     Zander is a descendant of Achilles, and legend has it that he cannot be killed. (We learn in this book exactly what his single weakness is, and it's far different that the one in the famous legend.) Ten years ago, Zander had an affair with Callia, the king's healer, but it ended very badly. Each one has been living with deeply hurt feelings about the way their romance ended, but (as is always the case in paranormal romances) neither one was given accurate information at the time of the break-up due to outside interference. Once again, the romance is the main story line, but this one is more messed up than usual. 

     Early on, the king tries to force Demetrius to marry Isadora, but when Demetrius vehemently refuses, Zander—feeling that he has nothing to live for anyway—steps up and volunteers. Poor Isadora—no one really wants her. Soon after that devastating scene, Zander is badly hurt in a daemon battle, and Titus transports Callia to his side to heal him. Titus then leaves the couple alone while he goes back to the battle. As Zander heals, the attraction between the two  ex-lovers heats up and secrets begin to be revealed. If you haven't figured out the big secret of this book by this point in the story, then you haven't been paying attention to the clues that have been sprinkled, like Hansel and Gretel's breadcrumb trail, all the way from the beginning of the book. Suffice it to say that the wicked Atalanta is involved, and her intentions toward Callia and the Argonauts are horrifically evil. The ending is a cliffhanger that leads into book 3. This book is a strong follow-up to Marked. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Entwined

            NOVEL 3: Tempted   (Demetrius & Isadora)             
     In my opinion, this is the weakest book of the series so far. Demetrius, a descendant of Jason, is a hulking, bad-tempered, uncommunicative jerk throughout most of the story, heaping insults on Isadora and treating her like his worst enemy—for no apparent reason (at first). Demetrius' bad behavior is linked to his family history, which, unbelievably, he has managed to keep totally secret from everyone in Argolea for all the centuries of his life. So...the whole premise of the plot is illogical and unbelievable, right from the start.

     The story begins moments after the previous book ends when the wedding guests discover that Isadora and her maid are missing. At first everyone believes that ditzy, unreliable Isadora has run away. Soon, though, they discover that Isadora's maid is a witch involved in dark magic and that she has kidnapped Isadora in yet another scheme hatched by Atalanta, who is very angry that the Argonauts rescued Max from her clutches. Eventually, Atalanta drops Demetrius and Isadora on an island that is devoid of humans but teeming with mythical beasts—all very hungry. As you would expect in a paranormal romance, the couple's physical attraction to one another kicks in, but Demetrius is desperate to prevent the relationship from developing. He keeps giving Isadora that old "It's not you, it's me" routine without any further explanation. As Demetrius tries to drive Isadora away, he sneers at her, lies to her, humiliates her, and worse. To be fair, Demetrius does keep rescuing Isadora from a multitude of villains, including a wicked warlock, a terrifying Hydra, a Chimera, some Harpies, and from Atalanta herself. The author manipulates Isadora's emotional responses to Demetrius' badgering to suit the needs of her plot line. Sometimes, Isadora has magical moments of epiphany when she sees right through Demetrius' insults and realizes that he truly loves her, but other times (when necessary to move the plot along), Isadora gets mad at Demetrius and has a TSTL moment. As the story winds down, there is a big reveal of Nick's real identity and his true relationship to Demetrius (which has actually been pretty clear for quite awhile, based on scattered clues in previous books). Once again, the author drops in blocks of Greek mythology in a manner that slows the story down to a crawl.

     Events in this book set up the next story, in which the half-Argolean/half-daemon Orpheus sets off to find his brother, Gryphon, whose body was taken over by the previously mentioned warlock and whose soul has been sent to Hell. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Tempted.        

            BOOK 4: Enraptured    (Orpheus & Skyla)            
     This book tells the story of Orpheus, a descendant of Perseus, as he sets out to rescue his brother, Gryphon, from Tartarus (aka the Underworld). Orpheus' father was an Argonaut and his mother was a witch. To top that off, he has been cursed to be possessed by a daemon. In book 3, Gryphon's body was possessed by the evil warlock, Apophis, and his soul was sent to Tartarus for eternal torture. In order for Orpheus to rescue Gryphon, he must regain the Orb of Krónos from Apophis. Besides Orpheus and Zeus, Hades and Persephone also want the Orb, and so does Atalanta. Hades describes the Orb as "the magical medallion that held the four chthonic elementsearth, air, water, and fireand granted the owner powers never seen before, not by any god." (p. 109)'s a race to the finish. Who will retrieve the Orb and what will they do with it?

     As the story opens, Orpheus is on the trail of Maelea, illegitimate daughter of Zeus and Persephone, who knows where Apophis is hiding. Poor Maelea is the result of Zeus' rape of her mother while he impersonated Hades, Persephone's husband. Maelea was cast out of both Tartarus and Olympus and left to roam the earth on her own. She's a sad creature, shy and retiring, just trying to keep herself alive until she can figure out some way to get to Olympus, where she thinks she belongs. My guess is that she will hook up with Gryphon in a future book. Just as Orpheus grabs Maelea, a beautiful Siren named Skyla intervenes. The plot follows Orpheus and Skyla as they go through many dangerous adventures while tracking down the Orb and falling in love.

     Unfortunately, their love story is very complicated, because, unknown to him, Orpheus is actually a reincarnation of Cynurus, a grandson of Zeus whose soul has been placed into Orpheus' body. The Fates are giving Cynurus/Orpheus a second chance at redemption. Thousands of years ago, Cynurus and Skyla loved one another, but Cynurus stole a valuable artifact from Zeus and was punished with death and torture in Tartarus. Skyla played a part in his capture and death, and she has regretted it ever since. Skyla soon realizes who Orpheus really is, but she doesn't tell him the truth about that old secret or about the fact that she has been sent by Athena and Zeus to seduce Orpheus and steal the Orb. Meanwhile, Orpheus is having flashback memories of his life as Cynurus in which he sees Skyla as his lover. What will happen when Orpheus remembers the whole storyincluding Skyla's betrayal?

     In previous books, Orpheus was a womanizing troublemaker who kept his half-daemon nature hidden from everyone in Argolea, believing that they would hate him if they knew the truth. Orpheus has always believed that no one can love him because he is a soulless daemon. But even though he did some awful things in past books, he also came to the Argonauts' rescue many times, for example, saving Isadora's life and helping to rescue Max from Atalanta. Orpheus inherently evil, or is he really a hero in disguise?

     Needless to say, the story is filled with a multitude of anguished interior monologues from Skyla and Orpheus. Their romantic journey is very rocky, leading them literally into Hell and back. Above and beyond the romance plot, Atalanta has a plan to use Gryphon to get back to the mortal realm, and Hades has his own plans for Orpheus, Skyla, and Atalanta. 

     This is a compelling, action-filled story that moves the series story arc along at a nice pace. One criticism I have is that although Skyla is a Siren, she never uses her powerful Siren song until the last quarter of the book. Throughout most of her battles, Skyla relies totally on her weaponry skills, neither mentioning nor demonstrating her power of song. Then, all of a sudden, she starts to sing, and she sings on and off for the remainder of the book. This seems not only strange and illogical, but manipulative on the author's part. By the end, the Orb has two of its slots filledearth and airso the next books will no doubt be focused on retrieving the fire and water artifacts. We still have a few heroes who need to find their soul mates, most notably Gryphon and Nick. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Enraptured.         

            NOVEL 5:  Enslaved    (Gryphon & Maelea)            

     To review: In book 4, Orpheus rescued his brother, Gryphon, from the Underworld. Now, it's two months later, and Gryphon is still suffering from the after-effects of that torturous episode. He has two primary problems: First, Atalanta's demonic voice echoes constantly in his head as she calls him back to her. Second, his fellow Argonauts don't trust him any more. 

     In the first scene, the Argonauts have allowed Gryphon to accompany them on a mission for the first time since his rescue, and Gryphon blows it—he goes so deep into a daemon-killing frenzy that he accidentally injures two of the Argonauts. When Nick announces that Gryphon can no longer stay at the Misos (half-breed) colony, Orpheus decides to take Gryphon off somewhere—just the two of them—so that Gryphon can fully recover. Gryphon can't allow Orpheus to make that kind of sacrifice, so he decides to escape form the Argonauts' custody. As it happens, there is another person in the colony who wants to escape, and that is Maelea, the illegitimate daughter of Zeus and Persephone, who has been on the run from Hades for most of her life (more than 3,000 years). Maelea has spent all that time trying to find her way to Olympus, where she believes that she will be protected from Hades' wrath. She has always lived alone, keeping away from other people. Now, she is afraid that Hades may have found her in the Misos colony, and she needs to leave so that the rest of the colony's inhabitants will be safe.

     Gryphon and Maelea serendipitously meet up on the night of their escape and are pursued by the Argonauts and Nick's warriors into the tunnels leading away from the colony. When Maelea causes a rockslide, she and Gryphon are washed away by a river that takes them even deeper underground, where they are attacked by various monsters. Eventually, they make their way to the surface, but are under constant attack by squads of daemons. The Argonauts believe that Gryphon kidnapped Maelea, and he actually did do that, but the couple's situation soon changes into one of mutual respect and then into passionate lust/lovebecause, of course, Maelea is Gryphon's one true mate. 

     Atalanta and Hades continue to be the primary villains of the series as Atalanta sends her daemons after Gryphon, and Hades sends his after Maelea. (Remember, Maelea is the product of Zeus' rape of Hades' wife, Persephone, so Hades has always wanted Maelea dead.) The Orb of Krónos turns up again late in the story as a focus for the requisite closing showdown among the various good guys and villains. 

     This story is typical for the series with its tragic hero and heroine falling in love in the middle of chaos and emotional trauma. We see the beginnings of a mate-match for Titus when he meets a mysterious red-headed beauty named Natasa who has some kind of a connection to Maelea. The two meet briefly in the midst of the Gryphon-Maelea story and then Natasa disappears, but you can be sure that she'll be back in a future book. We also get a peek into the sad family situation of Callia and Zander as their son, Max, acts out in a dangerous manner as he attempts revenge against Atalanta, who had him in her clutches for much of his childhood.

     Like the earlier books, the ending of this one is a cliffhanger that leaves several of the story lines unresolved, particularly the determination of the future of the Orb of Krónos. Another unresolved issue (and a weakness in the story line) relates to Maelea's earth-shaking powers, which she accidentally lets loose a few times but which are never explained. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Enslaved.

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