Connor Rihyad is investigating the rogue Gargoyles who tried to kidnap the children of his Chicago congregation at the end of Carved in Stone, which preceeds this story. (I recommend you read it first, as it introduces many of the themes and characters in this story.) Connor infiltrates the rogues by pretending to kill Nathan, rehabilitated rebel and fellow Gargoyle whose radical thinking challenges Connor's beliefs about their race. Once inside, he is horrified by the brutal treatment of a group of kidnapped women, and rescues one, Mara Kincaide, by pretending to rape her. Initially, both are wary- Mara is determined to find her friend who mysteriously disappeared, and liberate all the women, whilst Connor has to protect his mission and the secret of the Gargoyle race. Once revered as shape shifting protectors of humans, now people attack and even kill their rescuers ,who appear as monsters in Gargoyle form. A tentative friendship develops between them, but Mara is mortified when she has an erotic dream featuring Connor. Initially terrified when she realises what Connor is-and isn't-the sexual tension explodes in some pretty hot love scenes. Working together, they realise a secretive and rogue leader, or Wizenot, is systematically breeding an army of Gargoyles hostile to Connor's congregation. Mara forces Connor to re-examine traditional Gargoyle relationships with human women- they fake the death of male children, who are Gargoyles, and insure their fathers' re-incarnation, rearing them seperately in male Congregations. Mara's reaction highlights the dilemma of Gargoyles, whose ancient ways fit uncomfortably in a modern world. Nathan's wife, Rachel, is the first woman ever to be allowed to join a congregation. Rachel is learning to use ancient powers forbidden for generations, with the help of Terryn, the Chicago Wizenot. Searching for her long lost brother, she becomes aware of a malevelont being with similar powers, and soon danger threatens them all.
I won't reveal the dramtic climax, but this is clearly not the end of the story. Flesh and Stone expands on the world of Carved in Stone, including the dilemma at the heart of their world. They are a dying race no longer sure of their purpose, unnappreciated, viewed with horror and often victims of violence from the humans they were sworn to protect- how do they survive in the modern world, and what changes and compromises will they have to make? How will they survive the threat of the rogue Gargoyles?
I thought this was an original change from the usual vampires and werewolves of paranormal romance, I enjoyed it very much, and look forward to the next installment. Definitely recommended reading.