Wednesday, September 6, 2017

[Review]: "Blood Guard"

romance novel covers, paranormal romance, Royal Pick, Blood Guard by Megan Erickson
Blood Guard by Megan Erickson
Publisher: Loveswept (September 12, 2017)
Series: Mission, 1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Dual 1st POV

Enter a world of immortal danger and desire—and discover an incredible fate borne of blood.

Tendra: One minute, I’m a bartender in gritty Mission City; the next, I’m whisked away by a vampire named Athan who tells me that I’m the lifeblood of his clan. It sounds unbelievable, but he’s got evidence I can’t deny. Turns out, Athan belongs to an underground society of vampires who feed only on humans with their consent. Their enemies have no such qualms, and they want me dead. The only thing standing in their way is strong, sexy Athan. And the closer we get, the more tempted I am to let Athan feed. . . .

Athan: How could I have known when I snatched this snarky, beautiful human off the streets that she would change my destiny? As a loyal soldier, I must deliver Tendra to our future king—my brother. Empowered with the blood of ten generations of the Gregorie breed, she is fated to rule as our queen. But there’s something between us that’s so intoxicating, so carnal, I can’t help wanting Tendra for myself . . . even if it’s treason. 

Where to Buy*:
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Other Erickson Reviews:

Changing His Game
Chasing Destiny
Daring Fate
Fast Connection (with Santino Hassell)
Focus On Me
Leveling the Field
Out of Frame
Strong Signal (with Santino Hassell)
Tied to Trouble
Trust the Focus

My Review:

Another new paranormal series from Erickson, this time with vampires? HELL YES! I was excited when I heard about Blood Guard (and that cover! Simple but perfect.). I was not at all disappointed and my only complaint is that I want the rest of this series NOW.

The only thing that made sense in my life anymore was her. I'd expected her life to change. I hadn't known mine would.

Tendra (Ten) has never stayed in one place for very long. Growing up, she and her mother were constantly moving, sometimes mere months after the last move, and never after longer than a year or two At the time, she never thought much of it --- just figured her mother was a free-spirit type. And as a kid, you rarely question what your parents do since you grow up with that as the “normal” anyway. It’s not until now, when Tendra’s in her twenties and her mother has recently passed, that suddenly Tendra is pushed into a world that she never imagined was real – and it so easily explains why her mother constantly had them on the move all those years: they were running. From vampire assassins.

Yes, you heard that right. Vampire. Assassins.

Tendra finds out, after being capture by Athan, a vampire himself (though one from the good clan of vampires) that she’s the prophesized Sanguivita, a human whose blood is meant to be the most powerful – powerful enough to strengthen and somehow change the king of his vampire clan. Athan is the younger son of the king, and was raised with one mission in life: to find and protect Tendra and bring her back to his brother, Idris, the heir to the throne.

"I will die protecting you, and I'm fucking hard to kill. Understand?" 
A faint smile appeared on her lips. "Yes, I understand."

Athan’s clan may be the good vampires, but they’re not the only vampires running around. And the other vampires will do anything to get rid of Tendra and ensure that the prophecy does not come to pass. If those vampire clans get their way, they’d enslave all humans and take over the world. The only way, the only chance, Athan and the rest have of stopping this is through Ten’s blood. Literally.

So we’ve got some interesting worldbuilding here. There’s some things about the vampire world here that are common enough (they can’t be in sunlight; they’re faster, stronger, and able to heal themselves, etc.) but there are some other things that Erickson does that are new. For example, these vampires put out a . . . well, drug, for lack of a better word, that allows them to calm humans before biting them; without using this, a bite will change the human (or dhampir, for that matter). Too much of the drug will, obviously, cause harm to the human. And before you ask – yes, this can be misused by some vampires – the evil clans in particular – but for Athan and his clan, they do not use this to force a human; feeding is done through consent only. By the way, this mist/drug thing is also used to open ports, though I’m a bit more unclear on how that works, it was just one of those things that you have to accept that it’s A Thing in this paranormal world.

Beyond the worldbuilding, there’s also the lovely, delicious conflict between these two. Athan’s job, his entire purpose from the time he was a mere child, is to protect and deliver Ten to his brother, where she will then become the queen of his clan. Basically, she’s off limits, not meant for him. But there’s no denying their budding attraction, and even though he’s determined not to touch the woman intended for his brother, intended to save his clan and basically the entire world by extension, when shit goes down later on, there’s only one choice. And it’s not following the path that they’ve each been assigned from birth. Secrets and betrayal will come out, and Athan and Ten will have to fight to stay together – and to stay alive.

Oh, but I loved this story. Like I said, great conflict, an interesting new world, plus Erickson’s writing. Add to that some good secondary characters, a special cat, and some sexy times, and I’m hooked! It’s a fairly straightforward paranormal, in that this takes place over only a few weeks’ time, total, and doesn’t do a bunch of worldbuilding info dump on us, instead focusing more on the characters and plot moving forward. It’s not a terribly long book, but it’s just the right length for this particular story and didn’t leave me wanting, really. Well, except for wanting to know everyone else’s stories, of course, but that’s a good thing, not a bad. This is a category length, and I think you have to keep that in mind; yes, there could have been more things explained, even more worldbuilding to set things up, etc., but I was pretty happy with what we got here despite that.

The short time frame means that, yes, these two fall for one another really quickly, and it’s technically insta-love, but at the same time it’s a slow burn between them. They didn’t just jump into bed, or even into declarations of love, and I rather enjoyed watching the progression – all while in the middle of running for their lives (and Erickson building this world, of course).

The sexytimes though? Oh, yes. Those were . . . those were hot. Not terrible long scenes, and not many of them, but I didn’t care because what we got was still A+ dirty:

“That’s it. Ride my hand, Tendra.” He plunged his fingers in and out of me, the obscene wet sounds only turning me on more. His voice was harsh, guttural, telling me he was as affected as me. “If I had more time, if you were mine, I’d be on my knees between your legs right now, my face buried in you. Fuck!” he rasped out, his hips rotating as his giant erection pressed between us. “I’d eat you so good, Tendra. You’d come so hard, you’d black out. Then when you came to, I’d fuck you for hours, till you were addicted to me and my tongue and my cock.”

By the way, that promise? Yeah, he brings it up again towards the end of the book. And while she doesn't actually black out, it's damn close. 😏

I loved that Ten didn’t take any shit, was a bit snarky and pushy. I loved that Athan, though he had a job to do (take her back, protect her at all costs) didn’t come in swinging his dick like a caveman; he explained things to her, he asked her questions, he didn’t just force her around – even though yeah, doing it that way might have made their journey quicker and easier all around. I appreciate a non-asshole protective alpha hero; gimme more of those, please!

Also, I loved that Erickson showed us diversity, even in such a short look at this world. Ten’s friend is black and queer (her partner is a woman). And then while Ten and Athan were walking through one of the vampire club rooms – basically a giant, tempting orgy going on – there’s various couples and groups in the room, and they’re not all het couples. Was I surprised by any of this? No, because I know Erickson and she’s always been great about not white-and-het washing her romances. But it made me happy, anyway, because in the scheme of the overall publishing problem, it’s another (very) small step in the right direction and I always appreciate that.

Also, just FYI – that orgy scene I mentioned? Yeah, I was disappointed when Ten and Athan walked out of that room. I wanted to see more, damn it! #myinnervoyerisshowingandidontcare

“So, that was a little intense back there.” 
Athan frowned at me, then his face relaxed. “Ah, the Greeting Room.” 
“The Greeting Room?” I asked. “Goddamn, if that’s what you vampires call ‘greetings’ then I’d like to see an actual, ‘hey let’s fuck.’” 
He swiped a card in front of a door at the end of the hallway and waited until the green light illuminated on the pad. “Well, then, we’ll have to keep you out of the Feeding Room.”

Based on the tease in the epilogue, it sounds like the set up for the next book will be Idris and the daughter (dhampir) of the enemy. If so, I’m 100000% here for that conflict and cannot wait! And also, I just need more books in this world, period. Gimme all the stories, Erickson, please and thank you! #greedyreaderforever 

4 1/2 STARS! 

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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.

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If you want to read more quotes that I highlighted, check out my Twitter!

Remember, since this is a Royal Pick, come back on September 28th for a chance to WIN an ecopy of your own!


Until Next Time,

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