ZANDER — The most feared of all the Eternal Guardians. It’s rumored he can’t be killed, and he always fights like he has nothing to lose. But as a descendant of the famed hero Achilles, he’s got to have a vulnerability… somewhere.Publisher: Dorchester Publishing Co.
Forces of daemons are gathering and have broken through the barriers of the Underworld. Now more than ever the Eternal Guardians are needed to protect both their own realm and the humans’. Zander can’t afford to think about what might have been with the bewitching physician he once regarded as his soul mate. But with eternity stretching before him, he also can’t fathom spending his life without the one woman who makes him feel most alive. Perhaps he’s found his weakness, after all…
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Single Title/Series: ENTWINED is book two in the Eternal Guardians series but can easily be read as a stand alone novel. My reading experience of starting with book two can attest to that claim.
Cover Thoughts: The blue on the novel is incredibly striking both on the computer and in reality.
Why I Read It: I was offered a copy for review by the publisher.
Descendant of the Greek Gods, the Argonauts are all that stand between the Argoleans and death. Towering males of incredible strength and lethal skill, they bravely risk their lives and traverse the portals of Argolea to Earth in order to combat daemons and the wrath of their leader - one very powerful and pissed off demigoddess known as Atalanta.
The Argonaut Zander is an immortal amongst his kind. He's seen kings come and go and brother Argonauts live and die. Now he wishes to end his infernal existence for he has no family to call his own and after having been cruelly betrayed by his soul mate ten years ago, there's nothing he longs to live for. Even the rise in daemons and the dire threat they pose to the Argoleans and the half-breed Misos on Earth can't sway him. But when the king demands that an Argonaut wed his daughter, Zander finds himself surprisingly raising his hand for the job. For the first time in ten years he feels he's found something to live for, a chance to make himself a worthy guardian again. That is until the king's personal physician asks him to strip...
Over the last ten years, Callia has nearly given up hope of ever being happy. Abandoned by Zander at a time when she needed him most, her persistent craving for him after all that he's destroyed leaves her frustrated and lost. While a distant part of her still hopes for a reconnection with Zander, that fragile hope is effectively squashed when Zander shockingly volunteers to bind himself until death to Princess Isadora. Now it's time to move on with life starting by gathering the tattered pieces of her torn soul and then proceeding, as the King's personal healer and at the behest of his command, to conduct a full physical examination of her one time love. Zander's virility must be ensured for heirs are a necessity in this turbulent time. With the Council looking to overthrow the power of the monarchy, the king will do whatever he must to ensure the survival of their people and with his dying breath he'll see his only legitimate daughter wed.
While making the decision to bind with Princess Isadora finds Zander a new found respect from his Argonaut brothers, it's done nothing to calm the consuming rage that continues to burn in the empty void where his soul should reside. Still clinging to his death wish, Zander continues to place himself in increasingly dangerous situations. After throwing himself into a battle where the odds were stacked sky-high against him, Zander's inevitable and horrific injuries has his Argonaut brothers rushing the best Argolean healer to his side: Callia.
Heedless of the fact that the love her life abandoned her ten years ago and then recently pledged his soul to another, Callia wastes little time before she's running to Zander's side. When a close and prolonged proximity rekindles a flaming desire between Zander and Callia, it becomes apparent that there's still unfinished business between the two. But while Callia is misled by a misinterpreted possibility of reconciliation, Zander is instead looking to just get his rocks off leading Callia to bolt into hostile territory. With hatred and pain once again reignited, things quickly get out of hand but that's not before a painful secret - lie rather - is revealed. Enemies close to their hearts have effectively stolen the most precious gift that their doomed romance was blessed to receive: life.
Callia is a woman who on the outside presents a tower of strength but on the inside she's burdened with acute pain, sadness, and desolation. Surviving under the weight of all that she's lost, Callia's pushed through the last ten years by sheer will. While small, the kernel of hope lingering deep within her soul has survived a decade but it doesn't protect her heart from splitting open when Zander shoves this last piece of hope down the drain with his acknowledged pledge to another. While most would crumble under that kind of devastation, Callia lifts her head high as the last wisps of her dreams scatter to the wind.
Callia's source of pain is something that is leaked out slowly in the read but each tid bit is as shocking as the last. What's she borne and overcome is a thing of awe and it's not long before the reader is throwing their heart behind this brave woman. As the story progresses, the healing that occurs between Callia and Zander is slow and shaky as truths and betrayals are revealed but even with reconciliation comes the knowledge that they'll be separated forever since Zander gave his binding pledge to the king that he'll marry Princess Isadora. Knowing that in the face of all they've overcome happiness is still out of reach and it's utterly maddening but no worries folks, there's an HEA to be had with ENTWINED.
Zander is just as damaged as Callia as he's filled with self-loathing, anger, bitterness, and despair. He's desire to end his long and tortured existence is palpable as he throws himself again and again into life threatening situations. While Callia, as his soul mate, should be the calming force in his life, her believed betrayals leaves him shaken whenever in her presence. He loathes her as much as himself, so much so that only death can release him from the bonds of his pain.
Quite cruel at times to Callia, it's hard at times to hold onto a flame of hope for his character but when the source of his pain is revealed, one can't help but want to hold on as tightly as possible to his shattered soul and try to infuse some light into his dark existence. All is forgiven from a reader standpoint and while Zander continues to make mistakes with Callia, jeopardizing their fragile reconciliation, it all stems from a strong protection instinct. It's devastating to know that despite the fact that he's found his soul, his heart and his humanity, Zander still must let Callia go for his pledge to bind with Princess Isadora cannot be overturned.
ENTWINED, while emotionally tumultuous and complex, is also extremely engaging with a constant bombardment of activity, unveiled betrayals, and healing passion. There are several threads to this plot and while one would think that Naughton has every opportunity to drop one, if not all the balls she's got swirling in the air, delightfully this never happens. Not a single scene is wasted as everything reaches a satisfying crescendo and conclusion with this hero and heroine pairing. Bravo!
Another surprise: generally speaking, the use of The Big Misunderstanding in plots is a supreme source of frustration for me but with ENTWINED, all my developed stereotypes flew out the window. It all worked so well here that I'm finding myself rethinking my stance on The Big Mis. ... Maybe. :) But honestly, it did work well and I think it's because while vitally important, it wasn't the only driver propelling this story. I've seen it used before as the sole momentum for the plot and in those cases, I'm pulling my hair out. Thankfully I retained all my hair with this read. :)
And finally with regard to the world building, while complex, it in no way distracts from the romance nor is it so over-the-top that a new reader can't dive in with this second series installment. I for one had no trouble diving in and taking off with this thrilling read making ENTWINED a good candidate for paranormal readers that don't enjoy heavy world building.
ENTWINED is everything that paranormal romance lovers want in their reads: rockin' action, fluid world building, evil villains and most importantly, page burning passion that leaves you panting for more. Enjoy!
Smexy Books: 4/5
The Book Pushers: 3.5/5
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell: 3/5
Novel Addiction: 3/5
Michelle's Book Blog: 5/5
Supernatural Snark: 4/5