Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 02/08/2010
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Fantasy, M/M Romance
Jude Shea’s life is turned upside down when he rescues a dog he names Joe. Even though Jude has enough trouble taking care of himself—he doesn’t even have a job—he can’t resist the animal that needs him. Then one night, a man shows up on his doorstep looking to claim Jude’s new companion. As they run from a surprise attack, Jude finds out that “Joe” is not what he seems.
Eoin Thral is a guardian from an alternate dimension, and once he leads Jude through the veil that separates their worlds, he transforms into a handsome hulk of a man known for his fighting skills, not the capacity for love. Jude finds himself immersed in Eoin’s world, and he’s faced with the fight of his life to secure a happy future for them both.
The first time I read The Guardian by Mary Calmes (pronounced Call-May) back in 2013. I love everything I have read from her, but this one missed the mark a bit at the time. I never connected what it was about the title that missed for me. I just knew I didn’t love it the way I loved A Matter of Time and Change of Heart. When we invited Ms. Calmes to be a part of this Retro Read spotlight, I decided to give The Guardian another try.
I figured out why it mixed the mark for me, but I also kind of fell in love with Jude and Eoin a bit. Then I forgot to write the review for three weeks and just had to re-read it, and I fell in love just a little deeper. Rinse and repeat. So now after my fourth read through, I am a bit hooked on this story. It still has its issues, by the enchanting tale of fated mates that almost never were is just too dear to ignore.
So let me start with what it was the missed the mark for me. First of all, it is in the third person. Anyone who reads Calmes with any regularity knows that she usually writes in first. It is part of the charm of her characters. It is part of why I love her stories. The second issue I have with the style of The Guardian is the head hopping. Seriously, there is a lot of head hopping — sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph. I would lose in who’s point-of-view I was. I think re-reads helped me overcome these issues.
Eoin is Calmes’ typical uber-alpha male. He is gruff and possessive. He puts Jude up against walls and takes him hard. He has eyes only for Jude. Jude is the submissive character but is still a strong character in his own right. He stands up for himself and knows what he want. He also goes after what he wants. He has his moments of insecurity and doubt, but he is mature and responsible.
When Jude is thrust into a world he never imagined, he rolls with it, after a moment of freak out. He adapts and even thrives. That world is part fantasy, part history, and all badass. I loved that the main noble character depicted was a strong female lead who wanted nothing but the best for Eoin. Often the female characters that show up in M/M stories fall into one of a few character types — few of which are even remotely flattering.
While the Guardian is still not in my top 3 favorites of Calmes works, it is a lot higher in the list than it was two months ago. I will likely return to it when I am in the mood for a little fantasy with a lot of love and a happy ending.
For what it is worth, I listened to the audiobook narrated by the fabulous Sean Crisden all four times I “read” this story.
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
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