Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: Heart of Stone

Heart of Stone (Gargoyles #1)

by Christine Warren


Ella Harrow is trying to carve out a normal life for herself. Well, as normal as an art geek with psychic abilities can hope for. As museum docent and gift-shop manager, Ella is able to keep her distance from people—and her powers in check—while surrounding herself with the artifacts she loves. But how on earth is she supposed to act normal when a thousand-year-old statue on the museum's terrace suddenly comes to life?
Not your ordinary gargoyle, Kees has been asleep for eons, waiting for a portent of evil to wake him from his slumber. Kees isn't a vision; he's a bat-winged Guardian created to protect the world from the seven demons of the Dark. Somehow, Ella triggered his reawakening. Maybe the demons have been unleashed? Maybe his heart is finally ready to be chiseled open? The fate of the world isn't carved in stone…yet.
Themes: demons, shapeshifters, magick
Rating: 3.5 stars
Heat Rating: 


Starting a new series by a favorite author has always been a favorite part of reading for me. Though it always hurts to have to see a series end, you have that little bit of happiness in the back of your mind that the end of that series will mean an all new start.  The beginning of Christine Warren’s new Gargoyles series is another happy new beginning for me. This first story was more complicated than most because it veered into all new territory for this author with completely different mythology and all new characters.  While a new beginning always requires a bit of world building, a well written first novel will drag you in and make you anxious to find out just where the series will lead you. If you’re familiar with Warren’s Others series you should enjoy the new Gargoyle series as well as she carries through all the wit, imagination, and heart that you’d be looking for, but in an all new world with a new spin on reality.
Ella has been hiding her true nature for a long time, keeping a tight lid on the power inside her, just trying to live a quite life working in a museum and finding a connection with only a beautifully grotesque statue that has always haunted her days.  But one night when the statue she’s always loved comes to life right before her, she really has no idea what to think.  When that statue-come-to-life, Kees, demands she take him home so he can protect her while they try to find out why he has awakened, she is not only terrified of where her life is heading but she is also feeling way too much of a connection with  the huge and sexy Guardian.  After a huge breakthrough for Ella, Kees refuses to acknowledge that he might have feelings for Ella or feelings at all, leaving Ella aching for the connection she feels every time they touch.  Discovering the danger surrounding Kees and especially Ella, they have to work together to keep them both alive and try to find a way to keep evil from finding a foothold on earth.  When the connection becomes too much for Kees to continue to deny, will he be able to believe that his emotions are real or will he embrace his heart of stone?
Ella and Kees are both characters that have a lot of issues and problems that have to be addressed before they have any chance of finding a future, together or apart.   Ella’s tragic past has pushed her to hide her inner power, her fear of her own magic coming between any attachments she can form with those around her.  Her connection to Kees seems to be predestined, one that they couldn’t deny from the very beginning, and she is determined to find out just where that connection could take them both.  I loved the moments when she stood up for herself against Kees, but even more I loved seeing her find her power and use it against the evil stalking them both. The truth of her power and what it means for the bigger picture and her future with Kees, leads her from a scared little girl into a strong powerful woman who stands up for herself and to protect the man she has fallen for.  Once Ella deals with her past, with Kees's help of course, I begin to see a much stronger woman and like her even more than before. Kees is a different story; his arrogance from the moment he awakes is a bit of a turn off, though his strength and determination are assets as they fight against the demons.  As he slowly accepts that he’s not nearly as hard as he thought, letting his emotions flow more freely, he begins to accept that fighting evil might not be the only thing in his life anymore.  Ella has made a huge impact on him and his love for her can only make him a better man.
Though the action in the story is the driving force for the plot, the romance between Kees and Ella is not to be denied.  They both fight the connection, for different reasons, determined that their time together will only be a partnership for the good of mankind.  Passion and emotion have no place in the world of a Guardian after all.  Kees works to teach Ella how to survive, but more and more he knows that if something were to ever happen to her, he would lose it, not because she is crucial to the battle he fights, just because having a world without her in it is unacceptable to him.  Ella’s feelings for the stubborn jackass are all wrapped up in the fact that he is a Guardian, determined to protect not just her but mankind as well.  Helping her through the issues that have shaped her life, Kees begins to accept that emotion is not the weakness he’s always believed and being with Ella is the greatest chance at happiness he will ever find. Sadly most of the relationship was built in the background, with Kees and Ella each dealing with the growth of their feelings separately until finally the buildup becomes too much for either of them to deny the need to be together any longer.  Finally accepting the love between them gives both Kees and Ella the power to battle the demons after them and kick their assess.
All in all, Heart of Stone was a strangely intriguing beginning to a new series and introduction to a dark and terrifying new world.  Gargoyles and magic users, demons and minions, lead this series in a direction of upcoming battles between the ultimate evil and the Guardians and mortals determined not to let their darkness spread. Kees, begin a gargoyle, is of course stubborn and stoic by nature, but seeing the softer more thoughtful side of him around Ella reminds us that sometimes the true nature of a being is complete different than the outer façade shown to the world.  Ella seems to be a bit of a chicken, hiding from herself and her life, but the truth is that her tragic past has forced her to internalize her angst, self disgust and guilt.  These two are complimentary in so many ways, strengths and vulnerabilities, that when they finally both just accept their emotional connection, the love that develops between them is strong and pure.  The evil that they are facing, in this book and hinted at for future novels, was well planned and imaginative, with demons, minions, and dichotomous magicks, I am looking forward to developments in that sense as well.   I am imagining that the series will probably consist of 7 novels, each with one of the Guardians waking and finding their perfect mate, but that’s just a guess. And if that is the way the series unfolds I am looking forward to seeing more of the stoic and sexy Guardians and the powerful women destined to bring them out of their sleep. Warren opens up this new world with beauty, sensuality, sweetness, and a connection between the first H/H that is strong and lasting, and I enjoyed every second of this introduction. I hope you will join along with me in exploring this new series, one by an amazing author who has kept me spellbound for many years and will continue to do so for many more.

*ebook provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

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