Guardsmen are always matched in a bonded pair. The Protector can shift into a weredog, and the human partner is his Handler. They are incredibly rare and highly valued, but people also fear them for their mystical abilities. No Protector in living memory has outlived his Handler - until Alex Taylor.
Now a widower, Alex lives a lonely half-life and faces day after day of grief with no hope for happiness in the future. When he unexpectedly bonds with the young and vibrant Handler Marcus Stephanek, Alex is angry and unwilling to leave the memory of his former Handler behind. He pushes Marcus away and tries to distance himself from their bond. But then a mysterious villain who has been secretly shadowing Alex for years sets his plan in motion. Alex and Marcus must learn to trust their bond and love each other, or risk not only their own lives but the lives of those closest to them.
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missing something to make it to four
Narration is great
3 Stars (Story = 2 Stars; Narration = 4 Stars)
I would have actually rated this much higher if it weren't for two things: gross stupidity and the ending. Would you like to hear of this stupidity? Well, then, kiddies, gather up close for I have another story to tell you...
Our story actually begins really well. Alex Taylor is a "Protector" guardian, able to shift into dog form. Alex is super special for a great many reasons, some of which are that he first presented as a guardian at eight years old (well before other children present), he bonded with his "Handler", Theo, earlier than usual as well, but the most special thing about Alex is when his Handler (and Husband) Theo is murdered, Alex doesn't die with him.
You see Handlers and Protectors usually bond sometime in their late teens, but no later than early twenties, and a kind of empathic telepathy develops. There is also a biological and neurological need for daily physical contact (doesn't have to be sex) so the pair bond is strengthened and if a Handler dies their Protector dies as well - though if a Protector dies the Handler may survive.
I enjoyed the world building. It's actually quite interesting most of the time.
After Alex survives the death of his Handler everyone waits for him to die. Thing is, he doesn't. So over the next three years while Alex mourns Theo he's tested regularly to give the scientists some idea as to why he survived. On one of the testing weekends Alex notices the scent trail of another Handler, Marcus Stephanek, and realizes this means he's going to bond with another. This is not joyous news. Alex is gutted by this.
Marcus is ecstatic at having finally found his bond-mate, being that he is twenty-six, well past the age Handlers normally find a Protector to bond with. He's happy until Alex makes it clear that he's not a welcome bond, that Alex doesn't want Marcus.
It's difficult because the pair is now bonded, no matter that neither is happy about it, and Alex is determined to shut Marcus out.
That's how the story goes for a good three-quarters...with us drowning along with Alex in the grief of having lost his husband, of having this interloper in their home, and struggling against the bond, and we are additionally grieving with Marcus over being bonded to a shell of a Protector after wanting nothing more in his life that to find his other half.
All of this was really well-written and flows well. It's frustrating and maddening, and I wanted to find Alex and beat the shit out of him...but I got it. I got that he had years to build a life he never thought he wouldn't have with Theo, only to have it ripped away and for him to still be there, and then this other guy all happy and, "Yay! We're together now!" So I can see how that would not go over well.
But then at 72% the story takes a turn for the stupid...and I just can't take it. Won't. It never rectified itself for me.
The only reason I didn't DNF was because I was enjoying Paul Morey's narration. I don't know yet if that's a good thing or not.
- Belen "I'm an unabashed fiction fan: mostly M/M, Romance, Erotica, Suspense, Thrillers, Action, NA/YA genres."