Flesh and Stone
Clearly, Vickie Taylor’s primary goal in writing Flesh and Stone was simply to tell a rip-roaring story. Since I found myself devouring this book in just a few hours, she certainly succeeded for me.
With a cool mythology and a new paranormal world to explore – gargoyles, no less! – Flesh and Stone seems altogether fresh, not an easy task considering the many paranormal titles published each month. But, even better, the author does a terrific job of humanizing her protagonists and bringing to life a number of (really!) bad guys who come across as genuinely scary instead of romance novel e-e-e-e-v-i-l.
The story gets off to its page-turning start when gargoyle Connor Rihyad sets out to prove himelf to a group of Minnesota renegades by “killing” the leader of the rival Chicago gargoyles and hero of Carved in Stone, the first book in this series. As the reader quickly learns, Connor doesn’t really kill Nathan, but the two have, in fact, collaborated in the deception in order to plant Connor as an undercover operative in the a Minnesota group.
Connor and Nathan have reason to want to know more about what’s going on in the group’s remote compound since an earlier attack against the Chicago gargoyles in which children were targeted. What Connor finds there are a bunch of . . . well, kind of low rent rednecks on steroids who are actually keeping five women prisoner and forcing them to act as slaves, both sexual and otherwise. One of those women is Mara Kincaid.
Mara has reasons of her own to want to know the truth behind the Minnesota group’s plans since a friend she met through the women’s shelter she runs was taken by the same group and has now mysteriously disappeared. Though both are firmly undercover, from the beginning Mara and Connor seem to recognize something in each other and soon enough Connor finds himself doing whatever he can to protect Mara and the other women. But, despite their growing attraction, how will Mara react when she finds out the truth about Connor? And, even more importantly, what plans are the Minnesota group concocting and what could that mean for the mere mortals gargoyles are sworn to protect?
While the story itself takes center stage instead of the book’s characters, the author deserves a great deal of credit for telling a story that’s certainly larger than life in the paranormal sense, but one that never seems cartoon-y. As for those characters, even though they’re not the big draw here – at least not for me – they’re respectably well drawn and seem altogether real.
This second entry in Vickie Taylor’s gargoyle series is easily one of the most entertaining and fast-moving books I’ve read in a while. Add in the author’s nifty mythology and the fact that gargoyles are certainly a bit out of the paranormal mainsteam, and Flesh and Stone is a more than good bet for anyone who enjoys paranormal romance.