Author: Meljean Brook
Published: 2008, Berkley
Category: Urban Fantasy Romance (?)
I actually got to read this book in proofs a few months ago (sometimes my job completely rocks). But as soon as it was released I had to buy it and read it again. I think it's the best Guardian book yet.
Charlie Newcombe was an opera singer until a self-destructive phase sent her spiraling into alcoholism. Then she ran her car into a restaurant, ruining her voice. Just when she's finally getting her life back on track, she's attacked by vampires (yeah, her life kind of sucks). But before they can really get to Charlie, they're run off by Guardian Ethan McCabe (also called Drifter). Charlie has to adjust to the idea that vampires and demons exist and that her neighbor, who she's been casually flirting with for weeks, has wings and has been assigned to protect her. Charlie is a target because her sister is a scientist doing research on the healing powers of vampire blood.
Now, I usually do not like paranormal books. I know I'm in the minority among romance readers on that one. It's mostly the violence that turns me off. But I also hate the way some of them seem to meander around, the fantastic elements of the world seeming completely ridiculous or inconsistent or unnecessary--magic stuck in just for the sake of having it rather than being integral to the plot. But this series is such a fully developed, intricate, and interesting world that I just love it. It's pretty complicated, and I recommend people do a quick read-through of the Guardian Primer on Meljean's site. It's a good way to get your head around the larger story arc before diving into this one. And as for violence, it's there (one scene especially was pretty hard to handle) but it's not too graphic, and the action is so exciting that it didn't bother me.
Imo, this book reads much more smoothly than the previous books in the series. There were a few times in Demon Angel and Demon Moon when I felt like the plot shot on ahead of me, leaving me behind, more than a little confused. That was never a problem as I was reading Demon Night. The action sequences were so tight and exciting. I loved hearing so much more about how the Guardians work. Because they're just cool and completely kick-ass.
Charlie and Ethan are such great characters. They both have big backstories -- Ethan, of course, because he's centuries old and we get to hear about how he gave up his life for another in order to become a Guardian. His good-guy, old West charm made me fall for him in a big way (the way he calls her "Miss Charlie"--Eee!). And Charlie's fascinating because she's sort of hit rock bottom and been able to pull herself up again, even when other people didn't think she'd be able to. She's quite different than the incredibly strong-willed Lilith or Savi -- she knows that she's been weak in the past and is therefore desperate not to depend on anyone else, even though circumstances force her to. She's constantly fighting just to get by, which makes her a really admirable character.
And the writing is just great. Beyond the story and characters, there's a real talent here in putting words together in a way that just makes me do a happy sigh. Here's an example I love. It's spoilerish, so I'm whiting it out. Charlie's inside a house watching as Ethan fights a demon outside. She's holding a gun, trying to get in a shot at the demon.
The glass in front of her shattered, and her ears rang painfully. Charlie blinked and staggered forward, stared at the cracks radiating from the neat hole in the center of the window. Blood beaded on the glass like scarlet dew on a spider's web.Did she shoot the demon?! Did the demon shoot her? You have to read the book to find out. ;)
Her chest hurt. She couldn't see breathe or see. Then the window collapsed, a shining waterfall of broken glass, and everything was clear again.
Okay, this is already long and I feel like I still haven't properly explained why I liked it so much. Really good reviews are hard to write! Anyway, I think this will be a favorite for a long time.
Apparently Jake's story is next (he's another Guardian). Yay!