St. Martin’s, $7.99, Nov. 1, 2011
Dream-Hunter Lydia has been charged with the most sacred and dangerous of missions: To descend into the Nether Realm and find the missing god of dreams before he betrays the secrets that could kill her and her kind. What she never expects is to be taken prisoner by the Realm’s most vicious guardian…
Seth’s time is running out. If he can’t hand over the entrance to Olympus, his own life and those of his people will be forfeit. No matter the torture, Seth hasn’t been able to break the god in his custody. Then there’s the beautiful Dream-Hunter Lydia: She isn’t just guarding the gates of Olympus—she’s holding back one of the world’s darkest powers. If she fails, an ancient curse will haunt the earth once more and no one will be safe. But evil is always seductive...
There are two things I look forward to with a new Dark-Hunter/Dream-Hunter release by Sherrilyn Kenyon:
1. One hell of a tortured alpha male
2. The evolution of said alpha male
The Guardian (book five of the Dream-Hunter series/book twenty one of the Dark-Hunter series) doesn’t disappoint. The torture is right up there as being on par with the torture found in Acheron, and the hero Seth’s evolution is a wonderful thing to see—that someone so tortured can be helped by just a little bit of kindness is The Guardian’s, as well as the series in general, overall message.
Both main characters (Seth and Lydia) have lived lives filled with tragedy, but in Seth’s case, that tragedy includes deep betrayal. Seth has had nothing but bad things happen to him since being sold to Noir (a demon lord) at age thirteen. The torture that Seth has to endure subsequently is incredibly disturbing, and that he even has a shred of his humanity left is shocking.
“Don’t let this soften you. There would be hell to pay if he allowed anyone to weaken him.”
He starts out as someone you would never want to come into contact with, EVER. Seth is mean, aggressive and he really doesn’t give a shit about anyone. He would rather pound the ever-loving crap out of you than give you a second to explain anything. His job could not be better suited to him; he is The Guardian, someone who tortures people on behalf of Noir. Seth is in a dark place, people, and he is scary as all hell. And he has zero sense of self-preservation; he is constantly taunting and back-talking Noir, who is understandably pissed at him.
“All people were liars. He knows that with every part of himself.”
Seth’s progression is at a more measured pace than most of Kenyon’s characters, but that only makes it more realistic. When Seth starts to trust his heart, heck, when he realizes he still has a heart is when he begins to change. Seth starts to evolve when he first comes into contact with Lydia, but even then he doesn’t trust her much at all. He believes all people are self-serving, which really is how most of us feel sometimes, but imagine believing this all the time?
Seth doesn’t like asking for help (he’s the big strong killing machine, they don’t do help), but once he meets Lydia he does. That’s all it takes, trusting someone enough to ask them for help. He starts to realize not everyone is an asshole out to hurt him, but it’s still a very long, painful process for him.
“He has no reason to believe in or trust anyone. We’ve all betrayed him. Bitterly and repeatedly. We traded his innocence for our own selfishness and hung him out to dry, over and over again.”
Little things mark the change, allowing Lydia to see the real Seth and not just The Guardian. Lydia’s life also hasn’t been sunshine and roses, and it’s their ability to relate to one another that allows her to undertake a special act of kindness that helps him in the perfect way.
It’s amazing how Sherrilyn Kenyon fits so many layers into her novels, including life lessons that can be found as you look deeper into the novel. In The Guardian’s case, the message that spoke to me was that in our everyday lives, we really need to show each other a little bit more kindness.
Plus, watching a tortured alpha male evolve is really freakin’ sexy.
(Want more? Visit our Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter Collection for more great stuff, including an exclusive bonus scene, “Redemption,” from the latest novel in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dream-Hunter series, The Guardian.)
Natasha Carty reviews Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy on her website Wicked Little Pixie and lives in Toronto, Canada, with her cat, Seamus.