Review will be included in a full Volume review of Warders: Volume 1.
This was a good start to a new-to-me series. I'm also pretty new to Mary Calmes (having only read Romulus before).
I enjoyed the plot of a regular guy finally finding his fit, only to discover that Mr Wonderful is actually a ninja sword-wielding demon hunter. The dynamics of the storyline were good and the writing was well done. Though there were a few pet peeves – slang words, shortened words (Ohmygod, hafta, g'head, willya, Yessir, helluva, Whaddya etc) and a few lazy styled sentences, such as “Heavy sigh.” - the overall quality was good. There were some editing issues, of missing or extra words (“he still sometimes he ran into prejudice.”) and the flashbacks were often disorientating.
When it comes to characters, that's where I had some issues. Although I enjoyed the story, I found the relationship to be lacking a certain something. It didn't feel organic. I mean, we had Julian as our MC and our sole POV. He began as this shy, retiring, always-in-the-background guy, who didn't believe in jumping into bed with anyone, but taking his time even if that meant no sex for six months.
In fact, that's how the story starts – his current non-boyfriend that he's dating was caught on his knees with another man, all because Julian wouldn't have sex with him. Then we got to hear all about how he had a certain way he functioned, that he could never deviate from it. Until, enter Ryan. Suddenly, though they've known each other for ages, oblivious Julian doesn't realise that Ryan is jonesing for him until he makes it obvious. They have one date-like night, then go back to Ryan's and end up all over each other. I get that there's a paranormal, mate element to the story, but it didn't really justify this rush to get into bed with each other or the way that Julian took it all in his stride.
And can we talk for a minute about the complete 180 Julian took personality wise? He went from meek, in the background Julian to raging hormones, Alpha male in bed. Then, suddenly, he stayed that way and it made NO sense. Ryan went from the suave, sophisticated celebrity with a nervous habit when around Julian, to some lap-dog puppy, begging Julian for more attention. Julian also had a bit of an ego (“One thing I knew: I was a world-class kisser.”) and though that his kisses were good enough to get a guy off, without any need for more, somehow justifying his lack of sexual promiscuity. As an asexual person, it kind of bothered me that this was never addressed – that there were sexualities that defined a person who wanted an emotional or meaningful connection before committing to sex, but also the claim from the cheating ex that there just weren't people who didn't have sex. I felt that there was a key chance to add in how clueless this guy was and how wrong he was, especially in relation to what Julian needed from a relationship, by not addressing these points. From everything I've read of Julian so far, he seems to be of a romantic attraction orientation (not demi, though, since he's clearly sexually attracted to the guys he's been with)
I was also a little confused by the interaction between Julian and Winters at the restaurant. Winters seemed very focused on Julian and gloated about having his mobile number, as though it was some personal prize. It suggested a history between the two – perhaps of a fling nature, which wouldn't fit with Julian's personality – that was never addressed.
It took 25% of a 33% story to reach anything paranormal, but in hindsight I didn't mind that. I got a decent chunk of that side of the story and it needed that extra time spent on Julian and Ryan getting together. I just would have liked more insight into how much they liked each other, them becoming friends and getting to know each other, even a flashback of their first meeting or their last, before the events of the story, when Ryan insisted that he'd asked Julian to call him. Both events would have been interesting to see as well as important in allowing us to see how they blend together.
Overall, it was an interesting story, with a good plot but some flaws. Not enough that I'd seriously mark it down and never read it again, but enough that I'm going into the next story with more questions than answers.
““Do you have people in your life you trust?”
“For some things,” he answered vaguely, “not all.”
“I'm sorry, baby.”
He caught his breath. “That's okay,” he got out, “and you just called me baby.”
I'd gotten familiar way too fast. It always happened when I liked someone. “Crap. I'm sor–”
“Don't be,” he cut me off, tightening his fingers that were entwined with mine so I couldn't pull my hand away. “You wanna talk like I belong to you...it's fine with me.”
Which was a dangerous statement to make.”