Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Hard to Handle by Christine Warren

From New York Times bestselling author Christine Warren comes the fifth book in her Gargoyles series about a tale that is as old as time… and a love as strong as stone.

The only male among four sisters, Michael Drummond is no stranger to women’s strength and formidable will. But when a fierce woman warrior from another realm bursts into his life, bringing with her a battle between good and evil, Michael is overcome by an explosive dose of desire that only this stunningly beautiful woman can inspire.

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?

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Book 5
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Five books into the series (no, I still haven’t read book one) and Warren is still keeping it fresh as the Guardians and their Wardens continue to fight the Order and the nocturnis. I must say that I loved the introduction of a female Guardian, the first and only of her kind… so far, there are still two more gargoyle warriors to be found after all. Ash is as much of a force to be reckoned with as her brothers. That she was matched with a man who not only possessed the natural talent of clairvoyance, but who also comes from a long line of magic users, with all four sisters and his mother possessing gifts as well, bodes well for their pairing. Or it would, were Drum not so adamant about not getting involved so that he can keep his sister, Maeve, safe.

I love a strong female lead in a romance, especially when there is a lot of action that requires her to kick butt. So when I saw that the author was introducing a female Guardian, I had to have Hard to Handle. Not only did Ash meet my expectations, she exceeded them. Despite a less than positive first encounter, Ash learns quickly how to deal with Drum, knowing when to push him and when to walk away. She admires his loyalty and protectiveness for his family even as it drives her insane because he’s blind to the big picture. My heart broke for her and rejoiced at the same time when Ash promised herself that she would enjoy every moment she could with Drum and commit each of them to memory so that she would have them when she returned to stone – because she was convinced that as a female, the reward of the Guardians’ earned mortality with their mates would not apply to her. So often we see a character push the other away in an effort to guard their heart from what they see as inevitable heartbreak, and while Ash tried to keep hers protected, she chose to enjoy her time with Drum for as long as she could. Yes, there was some doubt on both sides as to how the other felt, but it wasn’t drawn out or overly angsty, probably because there was demon butt to kick and evil to vanquish.

One of the other reasons I liked that this Guardian was female and her Warden was male is that I feel like it suggests that the future of the Guild will be in better hands. Obviously, as a romance reader, I expect that the end of the series will see good triumphing over evil. But as this has happened before, the Guild will need to be rebuilt so that future Wardens can be trained. By introducing a male Warden to the all-female mix, it says to me that the new order of the Guild will include wardens of both sexes, not just men as it has in the past. Not only does Drum’s upbringing in a female-dominated family make him more receptive to women of power (literal powers), but he was willing to set aside his masculine pride in order to learn from the women and follow them into battle when they were better suited to it than he was. For me, this says good things about the future because the Guild looks as though it will be reestablished by women and men who respect women as being as powerful in battle and in wielding their magic as their male-only predecessors were. I know that there’s a strong possibility that the series won’t continue far enough to see that occur, but Hard to Handle has left me hopeful not only for the immediate future of our warriors of the Light, but also for the future of the Guild and battles that future Guardians may face. Also, getting to catch up with some of the couples from previous novels and seeing some of their baddies brought low made for an awesome bonus. As it is, I’m already looking forward to Hard Breaker to see what the Guardians and Wardens will face next.

CHRISTINE WARREN is the author of Stone Cold Lover and Heart of Stone, as well as the Novels of the Others, including New York Times Bestsellers Big Bad Wolf, Walk on the Wild Side, and One Bite with a Stranger. Born and raised in coastal New England, Christine Warren now lives as a transplant in the Pacific Northwest. When not writing (as if that ever happens), she enjoys horseback riding, playing with her pets, identifying dogs from photos of their underbellies, and most of all reading things someone else had to agonize over.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Hard to Handle (Gargoyles #5) by Christine Warren to read and review.

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