Author: Meljean Brook
Rating: A+, 5 Stars
What I’m Talking About:
The end is finally here. After waiting almost two years for Ms. Brook’s grand finale to her marvelous Guardian series, I started Guardian Demon with mixed feelings. I was excited to finally read Michael’s book… I was sad knowing this was the end of one of my favorite series. So on that note… Let me share with you my thoughts. Please note: as the eighth and final book of this series, it truly is not meant for the first time reader, and my review will inevitably contain spoilers from earlier books in the series.
Note: This review contains mild spoilers about actions the occur in the beginning of the book. I feel it will not impact your overall enjoyment of the book, nor give spoilers for the bulk of the story, but if you do not want to know ANYTHING about the book, please skip the next two paragraphs.
Our story opens in Hell. Taylor, still living with Michael’s essence inside, is searching for the Dragon Michael, who escaped from Hell’s frozen field in the previous book. Once she’s located him (and has been subjected to a bit of mental and emotional abuse), Khavi rejoins Michael’s body, spirit and soul using a long spear, driving it through the chest of all three bodies (dragon, Michael and Taylor). This traumatic process causes Taylor to sink into unconsciousness. When Taylor awakes, she is healed and at her mother’s home, and it is two and a half years later!
There are two critical things that arise: first, the process of separating Michael from Taylor is slowly killing him. His soul clung to Taylor too tightly, and now he’s being ripped apart on a molecular level. He only has a couple weeks left to live, a fact that he keeps secret from almost everyone. Second, Taylor does not trust Michael after he turned on her in Hell. She questions everything that he’s ever said – all of his intentions. And although it has been over two years since the incident, it feels like a day for Taylor. These two situations together are the crux of the emotional intensity throughout the entire book.
And what marvelous emotional intensity it is! Ms. Brook is a master at conveying true emotional depth in her stories. I cried – no bawled – at several points during Guardian Demon. At one point I was unable to read because my eyes were so full of tears. This is a wonderful thing because it means I was able to connect with and care for these characters, especially Michael and Taylor. (Note: sometimes the tears were joyful!) Have tissues at the ready!
At over 570 pages, this book is a behemoth. There is no way I can accurately or succinctly summarize all that occurs. But the bottom line is, Ms. Brook’s does a marvelous job finalizing the series. She takes the time to not only explore the complex relationship between Michael and Taylor, but she explains the whats and whys of how the world got to the place it is in by the time the final battles occur. She brings back all of the previous characters and lets readers know where they are and what they’ve been up to. She furthers her own wonderful mythology, while providing a means to an end. Guardian Demon most certainly wraps up and gives finality to the overall story arc of good vs. bad, Caelum vs. Hell, Guardians vs. Demons, Michael vs. Lucifer.
Michael and Taylor… what a wonderful combination. From the first moments that the pair met, you knew they would have a highly charged and powerful romance. I am happy to report that Ms. Brook does deliver. What starts out as a somewhat standoffish relationship, grows and blossoms into a thing of beauty. There were thorns and a lot of pain along the way, but the journey was just so good. They worked and played together so well – learning from one another and helping us along on their journey. I lost count of how many times I smiled or sobbed because of this pair. Each character is so strong, yet so vulnerable. They start out in lonely, isolated places, but then they each allow themselves to feel… to experience… to trust. Sure they have physical chemistry – and WOW! are they hot together. It’s all very needy and about possession and uncontrollable hunger, which makes me fan myself just thinking about it. But it is the emotional growth between the pair that makes them one of my all-time favorite couples. The emotional highs and lows (and there are plenty of both) create a connection that held onto my heart and still brings tears to my eyes. I love this pair!
I also enjoyed watching the connections between the different characters mature. I adore that they all don’t end up buddy-buddy, because let’s face it, that would have been too cheesy for this series. But they all deepen and grow; some become better friends and others come to mutual understandings. It was wonderful that Ms. Brook was able to bring back all of the characters for more than just bit parts and/or guest staring roles. They each had significant parts to play.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the marvelous humor of Ms. Brook, which is sprinkled throughout Guardian Demon. Here is one of my favorite examples. Michael is carrying Taylor as they fly over San Francisco.
She looked down. The orange bridge was just a ribbon, the Presidio a patch of green edged by concrete. “You know, there are always tourists with telephoto lenses down there. Someone might see you hovering.”
“I’ve been photographed before. The pictures are always called fakes.”
“I’m not thinking of that. I’m thinking that they might get a look up your toga. And maybe a picture of your junk is going to be splashed across the cover of a supermarket tabloid. Like angel porn.”
“You’re obsessed with porn.”
Taylor snorted. “True. That doesn’t change the fact that you’re dangling your bits over the bridge.”
In the end, I have to say that Guardian Demon is such a wonderful story. Honestly. It is everything fans of the series could hope for.
Although at times I wavered on the rating – thinking 4.5 because of the length… honestly, in the end it didn’t matter. This book was the perfect conclusion to an amazing series. My heart was filled with such emotion: from sadness to the point of being wrecked, to sobs of joy. Something about the way the story played out and the development of the plot and characters stirred up feelings way down deep.
What made this story so ideal is that although everything that needed to be wrapped up was done so with a bow, Meljean took time to explore all aspects of the outcome – the good and bad, the easy and messy. It was predictable, yet surprising. There was no easy path, and at over 570 pages, there were challenges. I never felt that the story was overwritten, but there were a few times when I found myself itching and anxious to move on to the next scene. These were usually the times of fairly deep philosophical discussions between Michael and Taylor. Even though they slowed down the pace of the book, after reading those sections I felt like I got a better understanding of the characters. These sections also allowed the author to explore and explain the entire Guardian workings and world that spanned eight books and five novellas.
Ms. Brook has a sublime talent for world-building – literally, as we witness the rebirth of realm of Caelum at the hands of novice Taylor. Every locale visited, every battle fought, every tender moment… these were seamlessly described with intricate details which allowed the reader to be right there with the characters. There was no “telling,” only “showing.” Some how, the story never gets bogged down under the weight of the details, only enhanced by the words that brought this story to life.
Everyone of the cast and crew from early books is present for the conclusion of the series. Even though it’s been two years since the last story, I never felt lost – and that is saying a lot coming from me. I forget what I ate for breakfast as soon as the dishes are in the dishwasher. The previous tales are mentioned in a way that seemed like a comfortable memory – I didn’t need to know every detail, but rather I was reminded how I felt and what generally happened. I truly am amazed that I wasn’t continually reaching for my books, searching for the back stories.
So in the end, I couldn’t be more pleased with Guardian Demon. While it is not an affective stand alone book, it is perfect for long-time fans of the series.
5 stars: Personal favorite – a must read (A+)
About the Book:
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.
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Series: The Guardians #8
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format(s): Paperback (576 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Guardian Demon (Book 8)