King of the Damned

Juliana Stone
December 2012, Paranormal Romance
Avon, $7.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0062102311
Part of a series

Grade: B
Sensuality: Hot

I have come to a point that I am pretty cynical about my paranormal romances and very picky. Only a select few move to that cherished shelf of favorites. So I rarely expect a new author to make that cut. But Juliana Stone’s League of the Guardians has secured itself a spot!

Rowan James is from a very powerful family of witches that live in - where else but in Salem? Though Rowan has spent six years away from home trying to live a “normal” life, she always knew that she would be drawn back into the fold. Due to an age old curse, she has been marked by a demon and it is just a matter of time before he either finds her or kills off her coven in revenge for not being able to find her. When she senses her grandmother is in danger, Rowan heads home.

Though Rowan doesn’t find her beloved grandmother Cara, she does find Azaiel, a Fallen Angel who is a member of the otherworld League of Guardians. They are a collection of paranormal creatures that protect the world from the baddies (demons and such) and unbeknownst to Rowan, Cara was a leading member. While Azaiel is dispatched to find out who killed Cara, he knows that he must also protect Rowan. Because Rowan’s power is intense. Not only does he not want her to be harmed, but more importantly for the League, he can’t let her power fall into the hands of the demon who thinks to claim her and her Magick.

This is the kind of book that as a fan, I love it, but as a reviewer, it can be tough. The book starts RIGHT in on the action. I mean Rowan walks into her grandmother’s to find blood all over the place and blood demons ready to attack. Not to mention Azaiel, whom she has never met. Now, if I had read Stone’s previous books, I would have been happy that the preliminary explanations and back stories weren’t there annoying me. But as a reviewer who hadn’t read the beginning stories, it made it a little tough to get into at first. I didn’t understand the League or why it seemed all the members had a personal grudge against Azaiel. It seemed that everyone he talked to he noted – they didn’t get along. Fortunately, the action moved so fast and was so engaging that I soon forget there were things I didn’t know and I was able to get over it pretty quickly.

Rowan is a great character – she puts the S in spunky. But she isn’t annoying about it. She is merely capable. She has a big vulnerability in being marked by a real bad guy and though she is powerful, she still needs to protect her coven and she knows it. Her leadership is her vulnerability. Meanwhile, the relationship between Azaiel (yes, another tortured soul who let everyone down and became a Fallen angel because he trusted the wrong woman) and Rowan is engaging and interesting, and the chemistry between the two sparkled. Azaiel was never afraid to put himself in danger to protect Rowan, and it was clear that it was about more than protecting her power. He wanted to protect her before he even knew the extent of her power.

While I don’t know that the book is strong enough to make me want to go back and read the previous books in the series, I will definitely be watching for the next one. There are characters in the background that caught my eye and the writing is smooth and captivating. Definitely a great read.

-- Louise VanderVliet

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