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Yes, as always, you get a tale from AI, but Santiago's 'romance' was lacklustre. SLIGHT SPOILERS
on 26 May 2013
I think that possibly AI's Guardians of Eternity series is going down that route of so many serial novels: it gets harder to write anything new and refreshing and tales get a bit 'seen that, read that, that's happened before'. I did quite like it, as Santiago, a favourite character, got his tale, but it's not the Keeper that the first 4/5 in the series were.
**********************This is the official blurb: THE SEARCH FOR A TRAITOR. As the demon world celebrates the defeat of the Dark Lord, the vampire Santiago's mood remains bleak. He still yearns for the sensual, raven-haired Nefri, who has inexplicably disappeared. But brooding for Nefri is a luxury that Santiago does not have. His traitorous sire, Gaius, is unleashing a violent scourge upon the mortal world, and Santiago must stop him before it's too late...
LEADS TO A DANGEROUS SEDUCTION. To her dismay, the all-powerful Oracles have sent Nefri on her own mission to find Gaius, and failure is not an option. Nefri's search leads her to the vampire's abandoned lair--and straight into Santiago's path. It's clear Santiago intends to seduce her, but then an ancient, banished evil reappears, threatening to thrust the world into a madness it cannot survive...*********************************
In this, we're pretty much into the action from the start, as Nefri, a Clan Leader vampiress has been tasked by the Oracles with a mission to track down a creature that had been held captive behind The Veil, but which seemingly is now in Gaius, 'father' of Santiago, who we find did not die with the Dark Lord in the previous tale. As Santiago's blood-link to Gaius allows him to track him down, Santiago and Nefri pair up, but she doesn't tell him all she knows - he thinks he's just tracking down a traitor to the vampires.
So, we find out that he's been in love with her for a while, and whilst she does like him, her control over herself, her mission and her true 'purpose', make her cold towards him for a fair bit of the tale, then comes an occasion or two when he presses for more than just a snatched kiss or two, and she succumbs. No wooing, no real dialogue, and as the tale ends, I couldn't quite believe in the 'sacrifice' that he was prepared to make for her, as it kind of sounded as he wouldn't be in any future books. Put it this way: for me, this guy who's been around for ages throughout the previous books, who's hot, dark, sexy, loyal and brooding, deserved the same type of romance that the other leads got, but IMHO, his was lacking. It was a bit, 'I got told it, but I didn't feel it' - apologies for the bad English.
On the other hand, there are two other romances going on on the side: that of Roke, Clan Chief of Nevada, who's being held by Styx as a 'guest', due to some vision that Darcy has had about him, and Sally, the witch from the previous tale, who was in the service of the Dark Lord. I could see that coming a mile off, and in fact, the 'yes/no' aspect of that romance, the passion inspired in Roke, made that romance seem more real. No doubt we'll be seeing more of them, given what we find out about Sally, and what happens at the end of this tale. I nosed at the author's website, and Roke gets a write-up, as do the other male leads in the series, so I do think his tale will continue, and that that could end up being the romance that I wanted this tale to have, but didn't get.
The third romance, if I can loosely call it that, as it didn't come to fruition in this tale, was that of Yanna and Levet, and there was as usual, quite a bit of amusing dialogue/misquotes involving the latter...but it was the same pun over and over again, which made it a bit predictable and tiresome.
The ending came pretty quickly and all was over too easily and too quickly, without ends being tied up, so no doubt, there'll be more of the same to come. Admittedly there was an interesting reason for the ending, but the denouement was a bit anti-climactic.
If you've not yet purchased 'Levet', which the author released as a Kindle short in 03/2013, then don't bother, as that tale didn't really add much to the series, or to Levet and Yanna's romance (there was another couple in it that stole my interest and had me hoping that they'd get a bit more of a tale of their own), and as 'Levet' appears as a free bonus tale at the end of this one.
I don't think that AI took as much pride in this tale as others, as there were typos and a couple of instances of 'spoken US English', which when used as in this tale, were grammatically incorrect. Additionally, on AI's website, Santiago is described as 'tall, raven-haired, with dark seductive eyes', and we know he's the silent, loyal, brooding type, and is of Hispanic origin, and he SO doesn't match the guy on the cover of this book, who has blue eyes and no brooding darkness. And, a few times, he used 'Cara' as an endearment, followed by the more-expected 'Querida', which made me wonder why he was veering between Italian and Spanish, but at the end, there's mention of him serving under Gaius in Rome, so perhaps that explains that. Or at least, I hope it does, and that the author and editor hadn't simply gotten tired and skimmed over the tale.
Overall, this is readable, and adds to the underlying tale being told across the series, but as a romance between the leads, this didn't deliver, which is very disappointing.