July 23, 2013

Spotlight on: Stone Guardian by Danielle Monsch

Stone Guardian by Danielle Monsch
Entwined Realms Series, Book One
Genre:  Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Once again, Danielle Monsch delivers an amazing story! This is the first full length novel of hers that I have read (and if I'm not mistaken it is the first one she has written), and I absolutely loved it. I was already a huge fan of her Fairy Tale novellas, and of her writing in general, and I can't say enough how glad I am that I received an ARC of this book to read early!

This book starts off with some crazy, serious, action and keeps the momentum going all the way to the end. The human realm and the magic realm have smashed into each other somehow, in what becomes known as the Great Collision. Suddenly Werewolves, Vampires, and Orcs (oh my!), and many more fantastical creatures are walking on the same streets as normal human beings. Well, walking may be a stretch. Actually, the Orcs immediately begin slaughtering humans, and a full scale squabble takes place where many humans and "otherworlders" lose their lives. It is into this chaos that Larissa Miller is born, and unbeknownst to her or anyone else in the world, because she is born nearly at the moment that the two worlds collide, she possesses a magical trait that is very rare and coveted.

Fast forward 26 years, and Larissa is a high school history teacher, docilely living out her life in the human realm far away from anything magical or mystical. She has been raised by her overprotective father and her four older brothers, and has lived a closeted, coddled life. She has never experienced anything outside of the human realm, and has no desire to. She is perfectly happy with her sheltered, naive, life. But then one day a horde of zombies attacks her in her parking lot, and a big hunky gargoyle shows up to rescue her. In a heartbeat, her world is turned upside down, and she is thrust into the middle of the magical realm.

The gargoyle that swooped in and saved her life is Terak, the leader of the gargoyle clan. He has been keeping her under surveillance for months, due to the cryptic advice given to him by the Oracle that Larissa would one day be very important to the gargoyle clan. Terak had just about given up on his mission, thinking that the Oracle was mistaken, when the zombie attack happens. After questioning Larissa and learning that there is nothing that she knows of that would make her the focus of a zombie attack, the whole thing is nearly written off as a coincidence until Larissa is targeted again during her morning run. But this time it's a band of Orcs that attack her. Neither her or Terak can deny the fact that somebody out there wants Larissa in a bad way. It is during this attack that Terak is badly injured, and Larissa has to take him back to her apartment and care for him. She also learns a huge secret about gargoyles that has the potential to change everything.

I loved how Terak and Larissa's relationship didn't just instantly happen. There was no insta-love, or crazy unexplained attraction that just couldn't be denied. I mean sure, there is some sexual attraction and tension, but they start out as just friends. And even that takes some time to build. Terak is her protector, and he makes her feel safe. Slowly, he begins to make her feel cherished, and special, and she begins to see the type of being he is underneath all of the "gargoyle-ness." Larissa sees into his heart to what a good and caring person he is, and she falls in love with who he is - not what he is.

Going on outside of Larissa and Terak's love story, there is still a whole lot of action. Necromancers want Larissa to help them accomplish something that seems impossible - they want to rip apart the human and magical realm, but with a huge cost to a lot of people. And somehow, Larissa is the key to their plan, and they will stop at nothing to obtain her. There is also a whole host of other characters that are introduced, and a lot of world building that is going on, but I loved every second of it. Danielle does such a great job of painting this new world, and all of the secondary characters: Laire, Wulver, Fallon (love her), Aislynn, Merak, Valry, etc., etc. They were all so interesting, and added so much to the story. And she did it in such a way that I was never confused, never felt overwhelmed. Plus, I could see the necessity for all of the characters instead of feeling like they were just thrown in just because. I might have gotten a little bit ahead of myself, but I had so much fun imagining where future books in this series might go, and who they might be about.

Overall, I loved this book. I loved the world that is created, I loved the characters that we are introduced to, and most of all I loved the story. I can't wait for book two to see what direction Danielle takes.

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