Monday, November 26, 2012

Early Review of King of the Damned (A League of Guardians Novel, #2) by Juliana Stone

Title: King of the Damned: A League of Guardians Novel 

Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format: Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (November 27, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0062102311
ISBN-13: 978-0062102317
Author's Website:
Notes: I read the eARC (eBook Advanced Copy Reader version provided by the publisher via Edelweiss) and will need to check my quotes against the finished book.

     She carefully lifted the heavy mane of hair off her neck and turned just so. She knew he'd see the mark clearly. It wasn't hard to miss..."Now do you understand?"...
     "Who placed the mark upon you?"
     "My ancestors fled Europe to avoid persecution and as fate would have it they ended up in Salem." She snorted. "Can you believe it? And just before the Salem witch trials broke out. I can't imagine what it would have been like to live through that...To save us Agatha did something desperate. She called forth a demon. Of course, not just any demon would do." She arched a brow. "Mallick...She made a deal with him, and we've been paying its price ever since. He marked our coven...He claimed Agatha that night, and has come for one of us every generation or so."

When Rowan James went back home to check on her grandmother, Cara, after receiving a voice mail that just didn't sound quite right, she never expected to find her murdered. But as she drove up to the Black Cauldron, the bed-and-breakfast her grandmother owned, she noticed it was eerily dark and silent. When she came across the blood covered floor of the kitchen she knew foul play was involved. She could only think of one reason her grandmother would have been killed, and that reason would be that Mallick had finally come looking for Rowan. Years ago her grandmother had blinded the eye of Mallick's mark on Rowan so he couldn't find her. Rowan was next in line of the James family witches to be claimed by the sadistic demon.

Rowan, however, is not the only one who cares about Cara's death. The League of Guardians, a secret organization that polices the dominions and keeps the balance between good and evil, is investigating her death to find out if it had anything to do with her affiliation with the League. Cara had been part of the League and the League looks out for their own, and if her death had something to do with the League, than the League will take it personally and look for vengeance.

When the League finds out about Mallick's claim on the James family witches, however, they realize they can't let Mallick have Rowan. Rowan is not an oridnary witch. She is much more powerful than any witch they've ever encountered. Such power can not be let to fall into the hands of evil. The scales of balance would be tipped. Therefore, the League has only two choices--kill Mallick or kill Rowan.

This is the second book of the A League of Guardians series. So far each book and novella of the series is pretty much self contained and can be read with no prior knowledge of the previous stories. 
In this book, three of the League's guardians are sent to investigate. The first one on the scene is Azaiel, a fallen angel. As Rowan had no prior knowledge of her grandmother's affiliation with the League of Guardians, she doesn't trust him and he needs to prove himself to her. Azaiel has his work cut out for him because he does not initially wish to inform her about the secret organization he works for and has to use a cover story.

Azaiel is an intimidating being who is well over six feet tall with thick dirty blond hair and is devastatingly handsome with power exuding from him. Upon their initial meeting, Rowan realizes he is not human and not someone she can easily, if at all, take down. Luckily, he claims to want to help her find her grandmother's killer. She can sense, however, he's not giving her a full disclosure of why he is truly investigating her grandmother's death, but knowing what she'll have to deal with she gladly accepts his help.

Rowan is a strong and powerful witch. Hidden from Mallick's view she's been attempting to live a normal life for the past few years. She knew it couldn't last, but she had hoped. Now she realizes she has to face Mallick dead on and if she's not the victor, she wants someone to make sure Mallick doesn't claim her. Death is a welcomed friend when faced with the fate Mallick would bestow upon her.

So in order for Rowan to have a shot of surviving and her family to have a chance of being rid of the curse they've endured since Agatha's initial deal with a demon, she needs to devise a way to kill Mallick. There are no guarantees, there are no second chances, and there are only two weeks to get everything put into place and organize her coven. For that is when Samhain will take place. The time when the veil between this dimension and the next will be at its weakest. A time when those who have passed will be able to lend their strength to those who are living. One chance to finally put an end to the curse that had plagued the James family line of witches for centuries.

To complicate matters more, Azaiel and Rowan begin to grow attached to one another. Seraphim aren't supposed to fall in love. They aren't supposed to have relationships. With the possibility that Azaiel may have to kill Rowan to keep her free from Mallick's clutches, things get tense. But if you were Rowan looking at the possibility of either death or a lifetime of imprisonment to a sadistic demon lord would you let a little a thing like that keep you from taking things to the next level? I think not. *smirk*

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I liked the forbidden relationship which developed between Azaeil and Rowan. I found it interesting that his original fall from grace was caused by a woman. I liked the drama created by how to deal with Mallick and the demons which invade Salem searching for Rowan. I enjoyed the secondary characters such as Priest, a former Templar Knight, and Nico, a shape shifting Jaguar, who both work for the League of Guardians and are called in to back up Azaeil. I also liked Rowan's cousin, Hannah who is attempting to curb her "potty mouth". It was quite funny. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. A very fun and entertaining read with plenty of action, drama, and romance.

Order of Series:

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