ORDER A COPY: Stone Guardian (Entwined Realms)
Publisher: Romantic Geek Publishing
Publishing Date: July 3, 2013
Paperback: 374 pages
Rating: 5 stars
We’re talking with author Danielle Monsch about her Entwined Realm series and her Fairy Tales and Ever Afters series.
Gryphons flying past skyscrapers? Wizards battling it out in coffeehouses? Women riding motorcycles with large swords strapped to their backs? All normal sights since the Great Collision happened twenty-six years ago.
Well, not normal for everyone. Larissa Miller may have been born after the Great Collision, but as a history teacher who lives in the human-only city, she has never come into contact with any other race or species, nor has she wanted to. Her life is as ordinary as it gets – that is, until one day she walks out of her apartment and is attacked by a mob of Zombies, only to be saved by a gargoyle.
Gargoyles trust no one outside their Clan, but due to a cryptic prophecy, Terak, Leader of the Gargoyles, has been watching over the human woman for months. While he can find no reason why the woman has been singled out, something about her stirs every protective instinct within him. When the attack confirms that the threats against her exist and are real, he convinces Larissa that though their races have never been allies, the best chance of discovering why she has been brought into his world is by working together.
In the course of their investigation Terak becomes entranced by his little human. But when he discovers why Necromancers want her and the great reward that awaits him if he betrays her, he must choose between the welfare of his Clan and not only Larissa’s life, but the fate of this New Realm as well.
In Stone Guardian, Danielle Monsch recreates our world in a time after the Great Collision when the world of man collided with the realm of magic and has created a new reality where humans now live with creatures of magic.
In this first story, Terak, the Leader of the Gargoyle Clan has been advised by the Oracle that he needs to protect a human woman named Larissa Miller as she would be important to the future of his Clan. To Gargoyles, Clan is everything, and although he has no desire to serve at the beck and call of the Oracle, not putting faith in their cryptic foretellings is foolish.
For several weeks Terak has watched over Larissa and yet he still doesn’t understand her importance to his Clan. The pretty little human teacher lives a quiet life. Although she is kind, gentle and very loyal to her own Clan — um, family, she does not have much contact with any creatures of magic and certainly none with the gargoyles.
When Larissa becomes the focus of a necromancer, Terak must finally make himself known to her, and Terak is not the only trying to protect Larissa. The Guild also wants to know why a powerful necromancer is sending armies of zombies and Orcs after a simple human teacher with no magical abilities.
For centuries there has been mistrust between the human and the different species in the magic realm, and the secretive Gargoyles are still not trusted by many of the other factions. Terak will protect Larissa from the necromancer and keep her out of the safe keeping of the The Guild, who would choose to lock Larissa away for her own safety.
As the danger to Larissa increases, can Terak and The Guild work together to keep Larissa safe and determine why someone is trying to capture her?
Stone Guardian introduces very clever world building. I loved the premise of the different dimensions (or realms as they are called here) colliding to add the paranormal creatures and magic into our world. The collision occurred less than 30 years ago on the day that Larissa is born and there is still a lot of mistrust between the humans and even between the different paranormals. It is a very tentative truce as everyone tries to live together, and some who prefer to keep each race segregated.
The story begins as Larissa’s father, a police officer, is on duty and the world goes crazy in a single moment, Orcs are overrunning the city, and he is helped by werewolves, as he tried to get to the hospital to be with his wife since she has gone into labor. As he approaches, the hospital, he gives us our first view of the strange creatures which are now flooding into our world, and how quickly their reality is changing, such as do you trust hairy beasts who are fighting by your side when you don’t even know what they are?
I was drawn into this story from the very beginning as were are introduced to several fabulous characters, not only the ones who make up part of The Guild, but also some of Larissa’s human friends and family who are definitely hiding their own secrets.
You can’t help but love Terak, a strong warrior who would sacrifice his own happiness for his people, but becomes hopelessly drawn to a human woman, and Larissa, who is loving and sweet, and although she isn’t a warrior, she has a warrior’s heart.
You definitely know there is an interesting story between Guild warrior Fallon, with her special sword and her snarky attitude, and the Master Vampire Reign. There was only about 3 or 4 pages of confrontation between them, but my Nook was smoking with the sexual tension between those two. That is a story I am going to look forward to reading.
Overall, the storyline was intriguing, drawing you into the mystery of why everyone was after Larissa, and the romance blended well with the story, growing naturally between the main characters; add to that the world building and the secondary characters, and you have the basis for an exciting new paranormal romance series.
I have to kick myself on this one. When this novel was available as an advance review copy, I kept coming back to it and reading the book jacket over and over until I finally determined I didn’t have the time to toss it onto my constantly growing TBR list. A co-worker purchased a copy when it released and was telling me how much she enjoyed it. When I saw it on sale a few months ago, I treated myself to a copy and squeezed out the time to read it. This was so good that I am so sorry I didn’t grab this one last year.
Terak was leaning against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest, waiting for her return.
At least he put his pants back on. As tattered as they were, it was still a lot easier on her respiratory system seeing him in those versus the white towel.
She put her hands up, a signal to please let her talk before any yelling started. “I didn’t call him. He found my ID at the park when they were investigating the attack. I’m lucky it was him, otherwise there would have been a whole squadron of cops at my door.”
His features were a shade different, softened into human lines, but the intensity of his eyes and set of his mouth were pure Terak. She’d recognize both no matter what else changed. “I know this. I am curious why you did not tell him about me?”
“Why would I? The whole reason I agreed to your people guarding me was so that I didn’t get my family involved in this mess. Running to them would kind of defeat the purpose.”
He started shaking his head, his arms coming to his sides as he propelled himself away from the wall. “Why did you not tell your brother about my abilities, that the human male in front of him is in reality a gargoyle?”
There was a strange tension in Terak, his usual intensity magnified. He was waiting for her answer, his now-clawless hands clenching and unclenching at his sides. The question of whether she should be scared popped into her head, but she pushed it away. Nothing about him scared her. What he was…was…hopeful. “Why would you even ask that? This is your secret. I would never tell anyone about this.”
Terak challenged her, that deep voice still the same in this form. “He is a protector of the human world. Information on your enemies is what any protector would wish.”
Before she could stop herself, her hands went to her hips. “There is nothing I want less than to get into another fight with a stubborn male who is trying to drive me crazy. Now, I don’t know what’s going on in that human-looking gargoyle head of yours, but quit it. You saved me multiple times. We’ve fought together. More than that, I consider you a friend, and I trust you. I would never betray a secret I discovered from my friend.”
Terak reeled back as if someone hit him. “You would call me a friend?”
He looked so adorable and bewildered, and while the smile curling her lips couldn’t be stopped, there was a pang in her chest over what this male’s life was like that the thought of someone calling him friend elicited a reaction like this. “Shocking, huh? Kind of surprised me to. Maybe that kind of stuff only becomes apparent when you’re watching someone bleed and praying he doesn’t die.”
His face held wonderment. It was if he received a rare gift, something he always wanted but never thought he would get for himself. His gaze roamed over her face, like he was committing everything in this moment to memory.
“So,” Larissa said, wanting to stop the awkwardness creeping through her skin, “how does this work? You look pretty healed up, I’d say. Does this mean you are healed as a gargoyle? Your wing was torn pretty bad.”
He shifted. Strange, this big, bad secret, but it bordered on anti-climactic seeing it in action. He went out of focus — only for a second — and then became the other form. If Larissa took a long blink she would have missed it.
She walked behind him to check his wing, stroking her hand over the membrane. It felt like leather, but that soft, luxurious leather, the kind where a jacket would cost most people’s yearly salary.
Her hand traveled to the frame. Even this was warm, his body heat coming through. The muscles bunched under her hand as she took in the area where the frame met his back. This body was that of a warrior. He was hard, perfectly formed. This body was her salvation, her sword and shield in a world that made no sense.
Tiny tremors rippled under her fingertips as she stroked down his muscles. Which shook, her hand or his back?
Her thumb brushed over the tiny hollow in his back that separated his wings. She leaned closer, breathing in his smell as she did that night where he held her in his arms. She’d been so scared that the sensation of flying was a blur. She couldn’t remember if she enjoyed it, even on a subconscious level. Would he take her flying again if she asked?
Adding more pressure, she ran her thumb down the strong curve of his spine.
Would he let her follow it with her tongue?
Larissa pushed back even as her mouth parted to make the thought a reality.
Sleep, that was the ticket. She needed a break from this day in the worse way. Sleep would be good. Sleep would get her emotions back in line. Clearing her throat, she said, “You look completely healed. I’m not a nurse though, so you should have one of your people look at it.”
His muscles still trembled where she had caressed him. His lips still carried the warmth of hers. Her scent filled his nostrils.
This woman was consuming him, bit by bit. She was becoming the reason and the reward of his existence, and if he did not shield himself, everything he did not have to give would belong to her.
He turned and brought her back into his sight. She was so appealing standing there, the over-large shirt hanging from her frame, her hair still damp and laying along her back.
Her hands were twisting in a nervous fashion, her pupils dilated, darkening her eyes to the color of a stormy sea.
Once he had boasted to a group of young warriors that he could withstand any torture. The woman before him made him realize the fool he had been.