Most humans live in blissful ignorance, never dreaming of the frightening surprises and paranormal danger that lurks in the night. Most... but not all. These few who stand against the darkness are the Warders, men who fight demons and square off against all kinds of creatures from the pit with only their brothers-in-arms and their lovers-their Hearths-to strengthen them in the unending battle of good versus evil. Sinnerman (June 2011), Nexus (October 2011), and Cherish Your Name (December 2011) were previously published individually in eBook format by Dreamspinner Press.
- Book Review: Warders: Vol 2, by Mary Calmes
Book Review: Warders: Vol 2, by Mary Calmes
EW Elaine White
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About the Author
Mary Calmes lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband and two children and loves all the seasons except summer. She graduated from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, with a bachelor's degree in English literature. Due to the fact that it is English lit and not English grammar, do not ask her to point out a clause for you, as it will so not happen. She loves writing, becoming immersed in the process, and falling into the work. She can even tell you what her characters smell like. She loves buying books and going to conventions to meet her fans.
December 28, 2016
epub, mobi, pdf
There are instances of cheating (book 1), historic attempted sexual abuse of a child by a relative (book 2), attempted rape under the influence of drugs, hazing and date-rape situations (book 3) and lots more violence in the stories.
The Best of the Bunch
POV – 1st person, one character per story
Would I read it again – Yes
Genre – LGBT, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance, Anthology
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **
This half of the series is even better than the first! However, I do have to warn that there are instances of cheating (book 1), historic attempted sexual abuse of a child by a relative (book 2), attempted rape under the influence of drugs, hazing and date-rape situations (book 3) and lots more violence in the stories.
Book 1: Sinnerman
This was one of my favourite stories in this series so far.
I loved Jackson and how he embraced the sweeping darkness and the meltdown from Frank's cheating. He didn't let his Warder brothers try to tell him that he couldn't be angry or hurt, though I was surprised that the whole 'cheating boyfriend' theme was being revisited again. This is the third story where it plays a big part in the overall story arc.
I was intrigued by Hayden, who I hope to see in future stories. Despite being a spoiled rich kid, making wrong choices, he was just looking to be loved and would make a great Warder's hearth.
However, once again the 1st person POV meant that the only way I knew it was Jackson's POV was from the mention of Frank within the first page, because, without that, Jackson's name didn't appear until 4 pages in.
I loved the way that the hearths stood up for Raph, later in the story. Raphael was the best minor character from all the other stories and the one I wanted to see the most. His chemistry with Jackson was off the charts and I loved the way he gave Jackson what he needed, even when it wasn't what he wanted or needed.
Again, we had a side storyline of an ex-boyfriend causing trouble for the warder. This time, it had a more advanced storyline in Frank's antics, but again it wasn't properly explored or explained. It's the only problem I've found with the series; the theme of ex-boyfriends and the fact that certain side plots are used but never really explained.
““I guess I shouldn't have worried,” Raphael said beside me.
I turned to look at him.
“It's like a damn frat house around here. How do you people inspire any fear at all?””
Book 2: Nexus
This is, perhaps, the second best story in all the series (with Sinnerman taking first place).
Again, there was the issue with 1st person POV not being informative enough – a theme that is persistent in all the stories of this series. Unless you can remember each character by name and their association with the others in the story, then it takes far too long to learn who the 1st person POV is actually from. This one took 3 pages for us to get Marcus' name. Though knowing that it was a warder who was a lawyer helped point me in the right direction, it takes far too long to find out who the POV is for, even taking until page 2 for us to find out it's Joseph's warder mate.
Marcus and Joe are only our second established couple of the series, but I love them. I actually believed their relationship more than Simon and Leith's, which made a little more sense when we found out here (though not during Simon and Leith's story, as far as I can remember) that they'd only been together less than a year. Marcus and Joe, however, have had six years together and that was obvious from the way they worked as such a cohesive team and how much more organic and natural their relationship was. Joe was my favourite, especially with the way that he reacted to Marcus. Being a gay, interracial couple in a small 'hick' town, while Joe is blind and Marcus is black, could have spelled so much trouble, even with Joe's family. But the way he handled it was beautifully done.
I was proud, but also sad, to see the way Joe handled being around his cousin Kyle, and to learn their history. Proud because he was still strong, he hadn't let that incident define him or destroy him, but sad because he could never escape that memory with Kyle at every family gathering. At the same time, I loved the way he turned to Marcus for protection, so trusting and so sure that he'd be there. Joe sees Marcus so clearly, despite being blind. He knows and trusts everything about him, the same way that Marcus does with Joe. So when their relationship hit that rocky patch near the end, I almost died! It just wasn't fair. But then it was worked through, screamed through and resolved and I felt whole again.
The whole thing was just a master class in beautiful storytelling and masterful planning.
““A warder has to be able to return to his hearth and home to be cared for and find sanctuary and draw power. I understand my role, and it's as vital to me as it is to you. I love you and I know my value. But I can't leave my family in danger, and I know you can't, either. So let's handle this and then go home so you can fight alongside your brothers.”
He was decisive and firm and absolute. It was hard to contain my love for him, because really, the man was phenomenal.
“Just say, 'Yes, Joe, I agree.'”
“Yes, Joe, I agree,” I sighed.
“I go with you, Marcus. Don't be stupid.”
Of course he did.”
Book 3: Cherish Your Name
This was a fantastic little snippet of an action packed Christmas.
It was really nice to see Malic's old insecurities about the age difference between him and Dylan, because that's not something that is easily resolved or just forgotten, no matter how hard a person might try. There are always niggles and doubts, especially during situations like those presented here. At the same time, it was nice to see Dylan getting jealous, when Malic found a new friend his own age and the hear the amazing way that Dylan's friends supported him when he most needed it.
Again, though, there was the issue of no clear POV label. I know I keep harping on about it, but if someone were to pick this up as a Christmas story, not knowing or seeing that it was part of a series, they'd have no idea for 4 pages who the POV was for. There are hints for those of us familiar with the series, but nothing for an accidental out-of-sequence reader. It would also make my life easier (as I have, medically, a terrible memory for names) to just have it pointed out to me in the first page who is talking, since there are so many characters in this series that it gets confusing trying to remember who is who and how they're related to each other.
I loved that this was a Christmas story, since it's the first of the series and pretty much needed. Just because I love Christmas, it's that time of year as I was reading it, and Christmas is always a special time of year. I was eager to see how it would be for Warders and loved how Ryan had the most natural reaction to being disturbed on Christmas Eve.
It sucked to hear the story of Dylan and Ethan. What Brad did to Malic was crazy but believeable and action-packed.
All in all, it was a great Christmas story with completely normal, human situations to cause drama and chaos, as well as the supernatural demon kind. The ending was great, too. But I can't help but feel that it's not the end. I'm not sure it ever will be.
““How do you like Christmas cookies?”
I squinted at him. “How should I know?”
He stopped walking and just stared up at me.
“Didn't you make Christmas cookies with your mom when you were a little boy?”
“Are you telling me you've never made Christmas cookies?”
“It wasn't something we did in my family.”
“You didn't make Christmas cookies and then leave them out for Santa on Christmas Eve?”
“Santa,” I scoffed.
Dylan turned and yelled at his mother. “Mom, you're not gonna believe this!””
The series, as a whole (putting Volume One and Two together) is not cohesive. Some stories are better than others, but there is a persistence of theme, style and method which does bring it together in writing terms. When it comes to feelings, I waver too much to ever buy the entire set on paperback, for example, but I'd come back and read individual stories again in the future. I think the unanswered questions I was left with at the end of some stories, while others were nicely rounded up and taken care of, was the real problem. I never did get to find out how Jael got on with Diedre, what happened to Mitch and Kyle, the cheaters; did Frank go insane?; if Malic would ever forgive Rene and what exactly had happened with him anyway, after that break up with Frank?; whether Kyle or Eric ever learned their lesson or paid for their crimes; if Winters did have history with Julian or not; or if Hayden really was suitable for becoming a warder's hearth.
I do love the message that each story puts across, though. Not everyone who does bad things is truly evil and not everyone who is good, can't be cruel. Appearances aren't everything and no character is ever what they first appear, even the good guys.
The 1st person still bothers me. Unless you can remember each character by name and their association with the others in the story, then it takes far too long to learn who the 1st person POV is actually from. If someone accidentally picked up one of the individual stories out of sequence, there is no guarantee they'd understand the hinted correlation of names and figure out who the POV belonged to. Though the warders situation is explained in each story, the plots right from book 1 are far too intermingled and connected for them to be comfortably read as stand alones. These last 4 stories in particular have a running plot arc that wouldn't make sense if read out of sequence.
However, as a whole, I really enjoyed the series and the stories. Each one was an adventure and I'd happily read more.
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