3 Hard As a Rock (3/2015)
4 Rocked by Love (3/2016)
5 Hard to Handle (2/2017)
From New York Times bestselling author Christine Warren comes Hard to Handle, the fifth book in her Gargoyles series about a tale that is as old as time…and a love as strong as stone.
The first and only of her kind, Ash is a lone female gargoyle, a creature destined to protect mankind from Demons determined to unleash their darkest forces.
But her bone-deep instinct to do battle is turned off-kilter by her untamed attraction to the dangerously handsome human she can’t stay away from. If they manage to keep the world safe, can they turn the passion crackling between them into a love that will withstand the test of time?
FULL DISCLOSURE: My review of Hard to Handle is based on an electronic advance reading copy (ARC) of the book that I received from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I received no promotional or monetary rewards, and the opinions in this review are entirely my own.
>> A gargoyle is a carved stone figure with a spout that is designed to catch rain water and keep it from running down the exterior wall of a building. It can have a grotesque appearance, but it is always a water spout.
Although Warren's heroes are not really gargoyles, I can understand why Warren uses that terminology because naming your new series "Gargoyles" is probably sexier than naming it "Grotesques." I do think, though, that "Chimera" might have been a better choice. The only reason that I am writing about this issue is that it is just one example of sloppiness in the world-building.
NOVEL 2: Stone Cold Lover
This is a formulaic series that will probably repeat the same general plot in each book. It’s a good vs. evil story arc, with smart and sassy human women finding their destiny with big, ugly stone statues who turn into handsome, sexy human men. If one-dimensional paranormal romance is your cup of tea, you’ll probably enjoy the books. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Stone Cold Lover.
The witch—Wynn Myfanwy Llewellyn Powe—will be the heroine of the next book as she travels to her hometown of Chicago in search of yet another stony Guardian.
NOVEL 3: Hard As a Rock
Wynn Myfanwy Llewellyn Powe, the witch who helped break Fil's demon bond in Stone Cold Lover, is the co-star of this book, along with her hard-as-a-rock (in so many ways) Guardian lover, Knox. Wynn comes from a family in which many of the males have been wardens. Although Wynn has always yearned to be a warden, the Guild of Wardens has always refused to accept females into their ranks (in direct opposition to the history of the Guild's founding by a group of women).
In the first scene, Wynn is trying to find the Guardian assigned to Chicago, but when she gets to the site, she finds that the Order of Eternal Darkness (aka the nocturnis) has already blown up his stone statue. As she tries to figure out what to do next, she is attacked by a security guard who works for the nocturnis. Just as he gets ready to stab her, a Guardian appears out of nowhere in his huge, stony, clawed, winged, fanged form and saves her life. This is Knox, a newly created Guardian apparently summoned by Wynn. That means either that Wynn is truly a warden or that Knox is her true mate (because the women of the series have figured out that other than a Warden, only the mate of a Guardian can wake him and that she is always a woman of power—like Wynn, who is a witch). They have also learned that once the entire demon problem is taken care of, the mated Guardians can demand their freedom so that they can become mortal and settle down in the suburbs with their wives and (hopefully) kids.
The two plots—action and romance—are interwoven in the usual manner, with pages and pages of angst-filled whining from Wynn, lots of meaningful glances and heavy breathing from Knox, enough bedroom scenes to keep things hot, and a few tablespoons of action towards the end to resolve the conflict of this book, but not the overall conflict between the Guardians and the Order. The demon Uhlthor (aka the Defiler) is still on the verge of awakening, and the small but intrepid group of Guardians and their mates must keep him from gaining his full powers. This book adds a new element to the series story arc. As Wyn puts it: "Do you think there's something hinky going down at the Guild?" The group suspects that there has been long-term corruption within the Guild that led to the ultimate destruction of the Guild's Paris headquarters and to Uhlthor's subsequent awakening.
Once again, the same general plot line from the first two books is repeated here: heroic Guardian, sassy but self-absorbed heroine, a sprinkling of one-dimensional bad guys, and the threat of demonic world domination. It looks as if this will be the formula for the rest of the books in the series, so I'll probably just post the publisher's back-cover blurb for the next book instead of doing my own review.
If you enjoyed reading the first two books, you'll get more of the same in this one. If you haven't jumped into this series yet, you could read this book as a stand-alone because it reviews the back-story in some detail (mostly in the first two chapters). Click HERE to read an excerpt from Hard As a Rock on its Amazon.com page. Just go to that page and click on the cover art.
Just one final nitpick: Most heroines of paranormal fiction swear by the goddess. Instead of saying "Oh, my God," they say "Oh, my goddess," and I have no quarrel with that—usually. But in one place in this book Warren has her heroine say this: "A phone call to Uncle Griffin managed to find the man awake and alert even at the ungoddessly hour of five AM." Really, Ms. Warren…you thought that "ungoddessly" would be the most appropriate word here? Because it brought me to a dumbfounded halt while I pondered its ridiculousness. Better to have skipped the weird, deity-centric "ungodlessly" and substituted "insanely early" or "outrageously early" or simply "at the crack of dawn."
NOVEL 4: Rocked by Love
Kylie Kramer knows that she's putting her life in danger when she decides to investigate her friend's mysterious death. What she doesn't know is that she's being watched over by a powerful protector. A legend in stone who has defended humanity throughout the ages. A rock-hard savior who swoops down from the sky, scoops Kylie into his impossibly strong arms, and draws her into a world that no mortal woman can imagine...or resist.
The formulaic plot of this novel is exactly like the previous three: heroine gets rescued by her rocky hero and then spends the rest of the book exchanging sarcastic remarks with him and their friends (three similar couples) while endlessly discussing plans to stop the evil nocturnis. These books could be read in almost any order because they are cookie-cutter copies of one another. Technically, the series story arc moves a baby-step forward in each book, but most of the action deals with issues entirely unrelated to the nocturnis and the demons they are trying to raise. Like the previous novels, this one is full of snarky dialogue, passionate bedroom scenes, and lots of repetitive generic strategy sessions. Rocked by Love has only two action scenes—one at the very beginning and one at the very end—and neither has very much action. In fact, the final one, which takes place during two brief chapters, is anti-climactic and provides no resolution to the ongoing nocturnis/demon conflict.