This second story in the Mates of the Guardians series (after the first story His Ship, Her Fantasy released a few months ago) takes us into the past and England to meet Donovan and Judith. The purpose of the Guardians, as well as the relationship, is developed in a less abrupt way in this story.
Donovan explains himself better to Judith then his cousin Alastair (hero of HSHF) did with his mate. Donovan's role in the Guardians is different from Alastair's however--whereas Alastair was a shield and protected, Donovan was a Hunter who chased down those who fled their world through time.
Judith, a Duke's daughter, but treated little better than common street rabble, has spark, but a clear hesitancy with life bred from years of abuse. We learn very little about her father the Duke beyond that he regularly beat her and was happy to hand her over to the ill-mannered, brutal and aggressive Lt. Anderson for marriage. We see her defiance in subtle, quiet ways, but when she opens up to Donovan finally, we see the 'real' Judith. Though their relationship is told, rather than shown for the most part, Donovan's clear affection for her is proof enough of their bond.
There are a few characters who appear, but aren't seen after the initial chapter or two--Orla (a female Hunter who was also Donovan's mistress for a while) and Eallair (another Hunter who acted as Donovan's manservant for the mission). I hope to see Eallair find his mate in a future story, but I'm unsure what I think of Orla. Her brief appearance in the story acts as a sort of counterbalance to Judith. Orla is beautiful, confident and self-assured of her own worth as a woman while Judith begins as a shy, hesitant girl afraid for her life. But whereas Judith is sympathetic and interesting to watch, Orla rubbed me the wrong way with her clinging and clear lack of dignity.
I enjoyed this story more than the first however. Lai has a firmer grasp of her world and the characters within it, gives a clearer purpose to the Guardians themselves and a stronger focus on the mate-bond. I look forward to more stories about the Guardians for certain!
Page Count: 48
Promised in marriage to an abusive oaf, Judith resolves to find out if there can be passion without love. Snatches of conversation overheard at the local Inn lead her to a mysterious American Merchant who might be able to satisfy her carnal curiosity and capture her heart.
Donovan, a Guardian Hunter, is on the trail of a rogue Elysian in Georgian England. As the son of the First Hunter, he long ago gave up hope of finding his heart's mate. When Judith appears in his study, his inner beast and his heart demand that he answer her plea for help. Will their passion answer their hearts' pleas, or will it wither under the threat of reality?