Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Review: Marked

Marked (Dark Protectors #7)

by Rebecca Zanetti


Janie Kayrs has known Zane almost her whole life. He was her friend in the dream world. She trusted him. But that was before he kidnapped her, spiriting her away to an isolated cabin to learn what her dreams never told her. Like how dangerous he looks. How he got on the wrong side of the negotiating table. And how much sexier he is in real life…
Zane is a battle-hardened warrior, used to command and solitude. But Janie has drawn him from the minute they met. His need for her could destroy everything he’s worked for, but the risk is too sweet not to take it. They call her the Chosen One. But when it comes down to the questions of peace or war, life or death, safety or passion, it will be Janie who makes the choice…
Themes: vampires, demons, witches (Oh My! J )
Rating: 5 stars
Heat Rating: 
We have waited a long time for Janie and Zane’s Story, and it was worth every second of that wait! There was so much going on in this story that with any other author I don’t think it could have been written as well as this one. The ultimate battle ensues, the family dynamics are changing, and the dreaded Virus-27 has finally found its true mark.  There is really no way to explain just how much I loved this book or how sad I am that it is over—though I am thrilled to share that a spin-off series has been reported and is also hinted at in the epilogue, which in itself just about drove me crazy!! If you’ve been a fan of this series from the beginning like I have you’ll understand just why I wanted this story so badly, but for newcomers I think this story will definitely make you want to go back and read from the beginning. There was just enough visiting of previous couples, exploration of family and greatness of character that you just won’t be able to resist—heck I wanted to go back and reread the series myself, just didn’t have time. As an ending to one of the greatest series I’ve read in ages, Marked, fulfilled every unspoken promise to readers and left you salivating for more while still providing the closure and true ending for this decades long story arc.  Zanetti is truly a gifted author and I find myself falling more in love with her as I read each story and each new series and Marked is definitely a testament to her ability, imagination, and awesomeness.
Marked is the final story in a decades long (in book time) development of characters and was always meant to ultimately end with Zane and Janie either coming together to bring peace to their world, or being the defining leaders in the war that would decimate their peoples.  They have been playmates in their dream world, friends, and have each fallen in love with the other in their youthful hearts, but when they finally meet in person and the truth comes out, there is no way Janie can come to terms with the changes.  When he claims her for his own and takes her into isolation far from her family, Janie has to find a way to undersatnd the true man he is and decide if she can have a future with such a being.  But with the outside forces pressing down on them, the only way Janie and Zane will ever have a chance is complete trust and understanding, which for these two is an almost impossible task.  Finally, we learn the truth about the Kurjan Virus and are on the edge of our seats as we deal with the fact that there may not be a true happy ending, because even with hard won peace after a long war there will always be scars—emotional, psychological, physical and cultural.
Janie has lived through so many traumas in her 25 years, being the “Chosen One”, for all the beings that exist alongside the humans in our world.  Long prophesized to bring an end to the war between cultures, and possibly to destroy one or two of those cultures, Janie has been kidnapped, stalked, attacked, and detested by many for most of her life.  Though she has learned to defend herself there was never a chance of her defending her heart against Zane, not once she pulled him into her dream-world so long ago and slowly fell in love with him.  While she has grown into a seasoned warrior and nurse, working alongside the Vampires that have adopted her into their family, she has always known her destiny was going to require her to give up her dreams and possibly her life to bring peace to her world. When she and Zane are finally alone together there is no denying that she is attracted to him beyond any man that has ever been in her life. Her strength of character and her ability to forgive and love is immeasurable and I was thrilled to see that she was able to get past all the issues pushing them away and find a way to keep Zane for her own.  I found myself increasingly interested in her as a person, not just as the Chosen One, but also in the fact that she is determined to bring peace about no matter what it costs her personally.  I also loved seeing her kick ass and takes names and handle the dominating and alpha men that she is surrounded by, proving once again that a man is only as good as the woman or women that are backing him. 
Zane has kept half of his heritage from Janie for the entirety of their relationship, knowing that it would put them on completely different sides of the war, but when he is finally ready to reveal his secret the shockwaves it send through their worlds are numerous.  Zane has loved Janie since they were children, knowing she was meant to be his, but never allowing for the possibility that he would be able to claim her in truth.  He has worked so long behind the scenes to find a way to bring about peace and mostly to protect those he loves, including Janie, that coming out into the open and being able to claim her is a whole new experience for him.  I was a little less thrilled about Zane, though he becomes one of those characters, you can’t help but love, mainly because as misguided as his plans and methods are, there is no denying that he gets things done and in the end finds a way to get what he wants. I did love how surprised he seemed to be to find himself in a relationship with a woman that challenged him left and right, one that demanded he face his feelings for her and the hard truths that he’s had to keep hidden all these years behind a mask to keep himself and his loved ones safe. For being such a hard-ass, it was nice to see his softer side, here and there, as he fell in love with Janie and found a place for himself in her life and her world. 
Marked was the perfect ending to a long series that has captured the hearts and imaginations of fans for the past four years, through 20 years in their world and all the changes that have come to lead to the war to end all wars between the Realm and their Allies and all those they call enemy. Janie has always known her destiny and has accepted that she might not make it to her twenty-sixth year, but through all that time, she has found her heart pulled to Zane and hoped one day to have at least a chance to be with him. Zane on the other hand spent his life knowing that the truth of his parentage would come between him and Janie, but he was determined to keep her safe and find a way for her meet and survive her destiny as the Chosen One.  Seeing these two longtime friends come to terms with their love and find a way to build a relationship despite all the obstacles between them and the drama of their live was like watching two stars collide to form a new world. Passion explodes between Janie and Zane any second they are within each other’s eye-line or hell even within their telepathic range and there is no denying that the chemistry between them is combustible to the extreme.  When the final battles are all fought and the dust settles, their world will never be the same and the new foundation will be built on love and understanding, with leaders that will keep the peace between nations.  I found myself crying a lot during the end of this novel, but when the story ends all the happiness for the characters comes through and the tears dried up and the smile on my face was huge enough to make people curious about what was affecting me.  I will say that the very end of the epilogue about broke my heart and left me salivating for the next grand story arc to take place in this world.  Zanetti breaks your heart, shows you true love, and leaves you wanting more, fulfilling all the readers' desire for a happy ending and bringing to life the loves and experiences of amazing characters that truly live life to the fullest.   Sad to see it end, but thrilled with how it happened and looking forward to what might come next in this world from the imagination of a magician disguised as an author.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

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