Desert Isle Keeper
I can’t say I would happily die tomorrow, but if I did, I could rest a little easier in the knowledge that Michael from Meljean Brook’s Guardian series finally got his well-deserved HEA, and that one of my favorite series ended on high note.
Guardians are super-powered humans, conscripted upon their death by Michael, their leader, if they give their life for another. The guardians are few, after an event that greatly reduced their number, and for years we’ve watched Michael and company struggle against Lucifer and his forces of evil. At the end of the previous installment Michael was in a very bad state, as a result of an attempt to rescue him from a situation only slightly less bad.
As Guardian Demon opens, Andromeda Taylor is wandering through hell looking for Michael in a ballsy attempt at another rescue. She succeeds, but things do not go well for her, resulting in her spending the next two and a half years in a coma. Since, for Taylor, as she prefers to be called, being a guardian has been nothing but trouble, she decides upon awakening to “fall” and become human again.
Unfortunately, as leader of the guardians and former caretaker of Caelum, the guardian’s home dimension, Michael cannot allow that. He also needs to keep her around for very compelling personal reasons. When a series of seemingly unrelated murders occur, and a friend of the paranormal community publishes a video outing them to the general public, Michael uses the need for Taylor’s investigative skills as an excuse to keep her near.
I have to send kudos to the author for getting right three very important things that so often go wrong. First, thank you for ending this wonderful series before it got stale, or the quality of the books started to suffer. Ms. Brook started a story, and when the story was done, the series ended. Period. What a wonderful difference knowing when to stop makes! Also thank you for not changing the nature of the lead in the story. How many times has the anchor character that runs through a series of books finally received their own story, only for it to disappoint because the character for whom we’ve been waiting is somehow changed? Throughout the entire series, Michael was strong and inscrutable, and in this book he remains that way even though the situation around him changes drastically. Lastly, a huge thank you for tying up all the loose threads with a glorious ending. There is no ambiguity, no imagining possible scenarios, no uncertainty .
Michael’s relationship with Taylor changes drastically as well. From the moment Taylor died and was reborn a guardian she felt abused and forced, treated like a puppet. But when she wakes from her coma, Michael, who has fallen deeply in love with her, makes a huge effort to ask instead of command. He learns to trust her and follows her lead on several occasions. Here we also get to see a mischievous, charming side of Michael, brought out by Taylor, as well as a very dry sense of humor. Until then my feelings toward Taylor were lukewarm, but this story proved her to be a great match for a favorite character.
The plot is also extremely appealing. The three-way war with Lucifer and his demons, the demon Belial, and with Michael’s sister comes to a logical conclusion without sacrificing the integrity of the story. The mystery surrounding the unexplained murders and the video released to social media by a former friend is beautifully complex and fits right in alongside the main plot of Lucifer’s machinations to take over the earth. This is also the book in which Taylor receives her guardian power, the power granted all guardians that ties back into their mortal lives. Her power is singular, it’s a doozy, and is used effectively several times to save the day.
The romance is to die for. Its not so much the love scenes, which are admittedly hot, as much as it is watching the almighty Michael fall in love for the first time in his long, long life. Michael, who can’t say what color his dear friend’s couch is even one hour after leaving his friend’s home, tells Taylor exactly how many freckles she has on her cheeks, and how many millimeters long her eyelashes are. Aw.
I won’t spoil it by relating the details but there is one instance of humor that had me laughing out loud. If you read the book you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say “house porn”. Other times I had to smile, as in when Taylor makes an inadvertent vulgar double entendre and the normally serious Michael flashes her a wide, wicked grin. It also made me cry more than once, and one scene is particularly heart-wrenching. Best of all, a couple of times I was smiling while the tears poured. Who can ask for more?
There is no way this book can be read as a standalone, unless you enjoy scratching your head in confusion. The series as a whole is intelligently written and extremely complex. All the living characters from previous novels are present, and several have huge roles here. Someone new to the series would not understand why Lilith’s lies and cut-you-to-the-bone honesty, or Khavi’s riddles, or Colin’s beauty are so important to the outcome of the story.
I’m not pretending Guardian Demon is a perfect book. There were some parts that lagged a little, and a character was lost that I found upsetting. Also, Michael and Taylor kept getting interrupted either before, during, or after their love scenes, which I found a little annoying. But the rest of it – oh, the rest of it is just so damn good, I wanted to turn back to the first page and start reading it all over again as soon as I finished. I predict this book will be on my keeper shelf and re-read, along with the rest of the series, many, many times.