Just when you thought your eyeballs would bleed if you read another another paranormal romance featuring a warrior cadre, author Caris Roane pops up and puts a fresh spin on the plot device. Her Guardians of Ascension series has a lot of the elements paranormal fans will recognize, but she manages to surpass the same-old, same-old feeling you get from certain other authors. Burning Skies, the second book in the series, fulfills the promises began in the first.
The hero, Marcus, met the heroine, Havily, in the first book when Marcus was recalled to Second Earth to help the Warriors of the Blood in overwhelming battle. He immediately recognized Havily as his Breh-Hedden, or fated mate (I know, I know!), but returned to exile on Mortal Earth after the battle anyway, because he had no interest in tying himself to Second Earth. Burning Skies opens with Marcus refusing to return to Second Earth again, under any circumstances, because of the satisfying life he’s built for himself on Mortal Earth, away from the pain and bad memories that Second Earth holds for him.
He soon has to re-think his position, however, because Havily develops previously undemonstrated powers that bring her to the attention of the evil Darion Greaves, enemy of the Warriors of the Blood. When mortal humans develop paranormal powers and “ascend” to the Second Earth dimension, some require guardians to keep them from falling under Greaves’ influence, due to the desirability of the power they’ll attain on Second Earth. Havily was one of the highly anticipated “Ascenders”, but when she ascended and received her vampirism and immortality, her powers never developed beyond organizational and administrative aptitudes, neither of which interest Greaves. But when Havily starts having visions and traveling in dreams, she becomes a person that Greaves either has to recruit or destroy. Learning this, Marcus temporarily gives leadership of his many corporations to a trusted friend and leaves for Second Earth to protect Havily.
The romance between Marcus and Havily encounters a lot of obstacles, the largest being his desertion of the other Warriors to live on Mortal Earth, while the rest remained to battle on less one key member. Havily can’t respect or forgive him, and considers him a traitor and coward. She’s a sort of mascot to the rest of the Warriors and knows how hard they fight to keep Greaves’ forces at bay. She also lost her fiancee to the war against Greaves and is unwilling to go through that kind of pain a second time. Another obstacle is Marcus’ refusal to remain on Second Earth. He lost a wife and child as well as his sister and her children there, and while he remains his fury and grief are debilitating.
The Breh-Hedden impulses work against Marcus and Havily, though. They each give off an irresistible scent, a “bonding scent” perhaps, that only the other can detect, which keeps them constantly aroused when they’re together. So they decide to give in and have sex – lots and lots of sex. While they share a bed, and blood, and danger, Marcus and Havily find the walls between them falling.
As in the previous book, a lot happens in Burning Skies. There are several more villains to be dealt with, although the main action is centered around Greaves and his second-in-command, Crace. Another warrior meets his unexpected Breh-Hedden in a mortal that has yet to ascend. The war becomes even more difficult for the Warriors as Greaves imports more recruits from around the world. Most importantly, the influence of the Supreme High Administrator, the ruler of the Warrior’s territory, is waning.
I definitely recommend reading the earlier book first, as the ascended world is complex and a new reader might find herself lost otherwise. The love scenes are steamy, and while numerous, never reach that tab-A-slot-B plateau. The writing and editing are better than a lot of attempts I’ve seen lately, and you’ll find Burning Skies quite readable .
I liked this book. I can’t say I found it earth-shattering, or that I’m in a sweat waiting for the next book, but I enjoyed reading it and will buy the next installment to find out what happens.