Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Guardsmen teams comprised of a human Handler and a weredog Protector are rare and highly valued but also feared by some because of their unusual abilities. Protectors always die within a short period of losing their Handler. Except that Alex Taylor didn’t. He’s lived as a widower for three years after his partner’s death. The pairs normal bond in their teens or early-twenties, but Handler Marcus Stephanek, at twenty-six, is well past the age when most have bonded to their Protectors. He’s almost given up hope of ever fulfilling his destiny as a Handler when he meets and bonds with Alex. But Alex is still grieving over his previous Handler and unwilling to let Marcus into his heart. Unexplained murders and strange events seeming to surround Alex, but he doesn’t put two and two together until a friends’ life is on the line. Handler and Protector will need to learn to trust and accept their bond if they are to work together and survive.
Well-written and enjoyable read with a fascinating premise revolving around one of my favorite things… DOGS! The author created a captivating world where Guardmen pairs (Protector dog and Handler) live intertwined lives. The outstanding history behind this AU world was enthralling reading. Early on, I was sure that this would be an easy five star for me. Unfortunately, it lost a bit of ground when it came to building the relationship between Alex and Marcus.
As separate characters in the time before they bonded, I adored both Alex and Marcus. I was rooting so much for them to get together that I could hardly wait for it to happen. When they finally met, the initial bonding was nearly instantaneous and picture perfect—exactly what I’d craved. In the period after the initial bond though, I felt no chemistry between the pair coming through. With so many callous and uncaring actions on both side sprinkled liberally with lots of bickering, the storyline came across as lots of hurt and very little comfort. I wanted to see love grow between them, but I felt as if they were tearing each other apart.
The turnaround between the two men finally came, but by then it felt weak to me, more like an acceptance of their fate and a giving in to their need for one another than the thrilling tale of falling in love I’d hoped for after the initial build up at the beginning. It felt like compromise.
This AU world where dogs and men bonded was beyond awesome. Some well-developed and fun secondary characters added depth as well, but in the end, the MCs love story felt too weak to warrant a five star.
Cover art by Reese Dante who created a lovely cover with a gorgeous representation of the two MCs plus the Protector in his canine form.
ebook, 250 pages
Published May 5th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published May 4th 2014)
ISBN 1627984437 (ISBN13: 9781627984430)