ENTWINED (Eternal Guardians #2)
The Eternal Guardians are descendants of the seven greatest heroes in Greek history. Hercules. Achilles. Men of legend. And the Guardians have become the stuff of legends themselves. There is unrest in both the mortal realm and their home of Argolea, and only the Guardians stand between a vengeful goddess and the humans and Argoleans they have sworn to protect with their lives.
Zander is descended of Achilles and the oldest of the Guardians. Being the eldest, he's watched friends, brothers-in-arms, and leaders fall while he continues fighting. Ten years ago he thought he'd found the purpose for his long life. Perhaps his immortality was gifted to him so that he could be around to find Callia, the king's personal healer. It seemed, however, the ever unpredictable Fates had other plans for him, and his relationship with Callia came to an abrupt and emotional end.
Now both Zander and Callia avoid contact with one another as much as possible though both remain in the employment of the king. No talking, no touching, no acknowledging the existence of the other. However, their personal drama is soon escalated by the growing threat of daemons, horrific and detestable creatures who seek to feed on humans; an arranged marriage with the king's daughter, and a history they thought long since buried brought to the surface. Zander has survived centuries free of his descendant's famous fatal flaw, but his renewed proximity with Callia might be the impetus that reveals that weakness to friend and foe alike.
Two words. Quite. Enjoyable. This series is in the same vein as Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters and Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld, so fans of either will appreciate the focus on one particular hero and his struggle to defeat a villain of mythological proportions while having his life complicated by a sometimes unwanted female presence. The Guardians are strong, often egotistical, and fiercely protective, making them the ultimate romantic heroes.
Often times in paranormal romance novels, I find myself drawn to the hero but ultimately unable to relate to the heroine. The heroine tends to be of one of two ilks: either she's whiny and causes the hero interminable suffering with her constant denial of both him and their current predicament, or the author sometimes overcompensates by making her almost too self-assured and confident by refusing any and all help from the hero. This type of heroine often insists she is always correct regardless of the information contradicting her personal assessment, and sets off to do what she thinks is best without thought to the alternative consequences outside the ones she has conjured in her head. Neither type is particularly appealing to me.
Callia is a wonderful blend of characteristics, where no one particular trait overwhelms the others to make her cross the boundary from enjoyable to obnoxious. She is intelligent and strong-willed, yet compassionate when the situation is appropriate. She listens to the available information and acts accordingly (except for one instance), keeping her feelings in check and letting rational thought prevail.
Her history with Zander is slowly revealed to us, and it becomes clear that a series of miscommunications has left permanent emotional footprints on both souls. Their history is tragic, their hurt palpable, and their pain obvious in every prolonged loaded silence. This is not the typical meet, fall into lust, profess undying love, and then temporarily separate only to be united in the end type of storyline that dominates so many paranormal romances. Instead, these two share a history of betrayal and loss that makes them seem real despite their paranormal abilities and supernatural environment.
And so as to not be outdone by her beautifully depicted protagonists, Naughton creates a wicked enemy who gives new meaning to "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned". Atalanta, former Argonaut like the Guardians and leader of the daemons, is blissfully cruel and terrifically callous, and I look forward to her continued presence in future installments.
Pick this one up if you like alpha males, strong yet realistic women, and a little Greek mythology in your romance.