Marked by Elisabeth Naughton is the beginning of Naughton's new "Eternal Guardian" series and the April installment of Dorchester's Publisher's Pledge book.
OK, there were a couple things that really bugged me about this story, so let me just get them out of the way.
1. Theron (the hero) resembles Wrath from Dark Lover so, so much-- it bugged. There were other similarities as well - like the bar where Casey works and Theron first shows up is called "XScreams," while one of the main hangouts for the BDB is "Screamers." I have this problem where I am frequently comparing all paranormal Dude-Group series to JR Ward's, and sadly the comparees often fall short.
2. The extensive liberties that the author took with traditional Greek mythology bugged me too. There was a time when I was really into Greek and Roman mythology, and while I'm certainly no expert, I wasn't crazy about the artistic license here. (But then, I didn't like that Disney gave Hercules a girlfriend, either).
Now, either of those things might be elements that other readers really liked or maybe didn't even notice, so they definitely fall into the realm of personal peeves versus a failure of skill.
Onward and Upward
On the plus side, Naughton creates an absorbing paranormal world of alternate dimensions, bickering political deities, and a growing evil threat. This first book introduces the various factions involved - the Argonauts, the daemons, and the half-breeds. The heroine is at the center of a prophecy, and its resolution in this book is a distinct stage-setter for the rest of the series.
This story weaves together several plotlines with nary a loose end, and the well-drawn secondary characters add to the enjoyment. Altogether a densely plotted, fast-paced and vividly imagined tale.
Theron's conflict is a fairly typical romance trope: duty and honor preclude him from acting on his feelings for Casey. The twist? She's not exactly destined for another -- she is supposed to die*.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. I mean, it's one thing for a loyal soldier to offer up the woman he loves to another man, especially if it's a man the hero is loyal to. But knowing that she's supposed to die, sacrificed to their cause? Worthy though it is (salvation of the human race, etc. etc.) ? I couldn't exactly condemn him for following through on his duty, but it did give me some pause.
Otherwise, there's good chemistry between the two; the love scenes are steamy enough to take off wallpaper, and the HEA ought to elicit a satisfied sigh or two.
All in all, an entirely competent entry in the Paranormal Dude-Group Saves The World romance subgenre, and a risk-free one too, as part of Dorchester's money-back guarantee on their Publisher's Pledge books. Watch for Entwined, coming out July 27 of this year.
*there's a loophole, of course. But then you knew that, because it's a romance!