When Katrina Haynes discovers a large man lying wounded in the snow, she fears he is at death’s door. But as Kat tends to his injuries, she quickly realizes that they’re the least of her worries. With an irresistible Scottish brogue and a strange ability to harden his chiseled body like a statue, the stranger awakens a desire she is unable to resist—and a fascination about the intriguing world he exists in.
As a proud Gargoyle, Ahnvil must safeguard the Nightwalker to whom he’s sworn fealty. But as this bewitching woman nurses him back to health, arousing an almost uncontrollable hunger within him, he is possessed with the fierce impulse to protect her as well. And he will have to shield her—for by coming to his rescue, Kat has placed herself in the middle of a supernatural war . . . and exposed herself to dark, powerful magic. As human and Gargoyle forge an unbreakable bond, Kat will discover that despite his intimidating strength and size, one thing Ahnvil does not possess is a heart of stone.
Themes: shifters, paranormal, magick
Rating: 4 stars
Well now that was an unexpected turn of events, and one I did not see coming. The series isn’t so much branching off from the expected H/h combos as it is including some new and interesting characters and bringing in fresh blood to keep the series original, while still being awesome in that it brought in favorite characters from the previous Nightwalkers series. For some reason, even after the last book, it never occurred to me that future books in the series might have an H/H that weren’t Bodywalkers and I am somewhat glad of my shortsightedness because I was happily surprised to have a sexy Gargoyle and human (mostly) as the lusty leads in this new story. Frank takes us on a thrilling ride from the snowbound mountains of Washington to the sultry heat of New Mexico in a tale of a man whose heart has long been hidden behind a wall of stone and a woman who has never found a place in the world she can feel at ease being herself. If there is one thing I’ve learned about Jackie, though, it’s to never go into anything she writes with expectations because things will never be as you thought and you will always been pleasantly surprised.
To start Ahnvil’s story we get an interesting bit of background about his life, quickly moving forward to present day where he finds himself at the mercy of his enemies after an ambush. When he makes a dangerous escape attempt, injured and facing the ultimate death if he doesn’t get home soon, Ahnvil is forced to accept help from Kat, a sexy and naïve human female who pushes all of his buttons and brings to light feelings he thought long buried. When Kat stumbles upon a bleeding half dead…half stone?... man in the snow on her morning walk she never expected the changes and dangers he would bring to her life—much less the excitement and love. Giving in to her long neglected physician side, she immediately gets him back to her home and sets about restoring him to health, no matter how much he scares her or turns her on. The more she learns about her mystery man, the more she wants to know, but knowing will put her into even more danger and when a stupid choice makes it impossible for her to escape him altogether, Kat finds herself traveling to New Mexico to meet a whole race of people she never thought existed. And shall I mention there is a mysterious phantom along for the ride (I won’t spoil the surprise on this one but I gotta say I LOVED this part!). Falling for a gargoyle never even entered Kat’s mind, until she met the one sexy man who turns to stone but melts her heart like a lava flow. And when a powerful enemy captures Kat, only by embracing her newly discovered strength and trusting in herself and her man can she find her way back to safety and her new friends and family.
I would normally spend a bit of time talking about the Hero and Heroine at this point, but I find myself unable to touch on them too much without spoiling a lot of surprises in the story so I’ll keep things general as much as possible. Kat is a strong woman, one who has some real hang-ups and has become something of a recluse, with only her dog for company. She once thrived on the challenge of being an ER doc, but now she lives quietly on her mountain and is sure she will never find a man to have a future with. I liked her personality a lot, though I felt she was entirely too conflicted with her desires when faced with a gorgeous naked and horny male. When she learns the truth about herself and finally finds her place in the world, I was so thrilled for her and am looking forward to seeing her in future stories after she has had even more time to develop and grow as a woman. Ahnvil is a bit harder to analyze as, like his name implies, he is hardheaded and too stubborn to open up to Kat very much. His fears about being with Kat were sweet to see, but when he is at his most lusty I can honestly say I would have been a little scared of his intensity. Accepting help from anyone is tough for him, but as time moves closer and closer to his ultimate destruction, he lets himself come to count on and care for Kat. When she is taken from him the true depth of his feelings is uncovered and he knows he can never let her go. The intense heat between Kat and Ahnvil provides an immediate pull that is impossible to resist for too long, but the feelings that develop are delightfully subtle and realistic. There is laughter, fear, indecision, and vulnerability from the beginning of their relationship, but once they make the conscious decision to be together there is no limit to the passion, love, or strength they can each gain individually and as a couple.
This story of two very different, but oddly perfectly matched individuals finding love with one another is one that I will remember for a while to come. Ahnvil is one of those guys that can just seriously get on your nerves if you let him; he’s brash, sometimes crude, and bossy as hell, but he’s always sweet, sexy, tender, thoughtful, affectionate and protective. I loved Ahnvil from the minute he walked onto the pages and I am glad I didn’t write him off as a jackass just because he tried mauling the woman rescuing him. Kat was a different kettle of fish—her I liked from the very beginning. Firstly I have to point out that she owns my FAVORITE breed of dog and I hate her so much for taking my dog, but moving on. How can you not love the type of woman that will go above and beyond just to rescue a total stranger from harm? As she learns more and more about the world that she really lives in, she handles the danger and strangeness with great aplomb and dignity, when many others would have passed out from the sudden and continued hits that come her way. The heat that these two stir in the air as they get closer and closer to each other is so intense it surprises me they weren’t able to just melt the feet of snow around them after the huge blizzard. I loved the overall plot line, the intriguing plot twists and the startling truths that come to light several times in this story. I liked this spin-off series before, but now I can officially say I’m in love and will be longing for the next books and the future story arcs that will come from the changes to the World of the Nightwalkers. Keep the hits coming Jackie.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review. No compensation was provided.