Series: Paladins of Darkness, Book 1
Rating: 3 Stars
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Kindle
They're not vampires, but Alexis Morgan's Paladins are warriors who can't die. Well...they can, but it doesn't stick. Unless they're seriously wounded, anyway. Like decapitation-type wounds. A bullet to the brain or a stake through the heart might do it, too...but they're not vampires. They're humans...with a bit extra. Honestly, though, at the core, the Paladins are a group of warriors who stand against the Others, a murderous, wrong race of creatures that spew into our world when geologic or seismic activity brings down the barrier between our world and theirs. If they get into our world, their genetic dissonance messes it up. Paladins protect it. And the Paladins are the human/Other hybrids that have been born with the drive to kill Others before Others can wreak their havoc on our lives. Each time they die, however, more and more of their soul slips away, so their fight dooms them to the very existence they fight so valiantly to stamp out. One day, when they rise from the dead, they will rise Other - and they will be executed.
If you look too closely at these Paladins, you may notice they bear more than a striking resemblance to other warrior brotherhoods in other books - like J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series, or Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed series, or Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series, or Sherryln Kenyon's Dark Hunters...and the list goes on. And frankly, other authors do it better. Yet, Dark Protector isn't a bad book, and serious paranormal romance junkies will very much enjoy the story of Devlin Bane and his earnest handler, Dr. Laurel Young.
Devlin has been a Paladin for a long time - longer than most manage to without turning Other - but coming back from the dead this last time took far longer than it should have. Is he becoming Other...or is it the fact that he was not slain by the hands of an Other in battle, but by the human hands of a traitor? And when he wakes this time, his handler is there - a handler he's always been attracted to, but his life as a Paladin doesn't make for anyone's HEA, so he's stayed far away. Except...while going through the tests necessary after a rising...she reaches out and holds his hand. That one act of kindness may be both of their undoings.
I say again, Dark Protector is a reasonably nice read, but it does have some things that bugged me. It certainly wasn't as fully realized or well developed as the books from some of those other series I mentioned. The mythos and world building were limited and two dimensional. And then there were the things that weren't explained, didn't make sense, and strained any willing suspension of disbelief. Are we really supposed to believe that in the long, long history of the Paladins, none of them have ever fallen in love before? And though it's not stated, is there any doubt why Devlin's test results have improved? So the mystery of that doesn't exactly work. There were also a few things that as a reader just annoy me. The author defines a Paladin's skill set early on in the book, but when faced with a crisis at the end, suddenly Devlin can do something completely new that will help him get out of it. Inexplicable addition of powers to get out of sticky situations is a pet peeve of mine. It's sloppy writing. And another thing...what's the deal with vilifying a race of creatures for an entire book...then having one pop up all honor-bound and protecting? Did I miss something?? Also, the dialogue between Laurel and Devlin during the sex scenes was another thing that niggled me. Well...and the sex scenes themselves were a bit off, too. I couldn't quite put my finger on what, exactly, bugged me about them, but when I noticed I was skimming over them, I realized they seemed very stilted and discordant somehow. I wish I could be more specific, but it was more a feeling I got than something I can definitively point to.
Now, all that being said, I still thought the book was an okay read, and the reason I was able to cite all those other similarly-themed series is because I like that sort of camaraderie and brotherhood that goes with a group of warriors fighting the good fight together. And I liked Dark Protector the most when Trahern, D.J., or Cullen were around. I will be reading the next in the series. I guess I'm a sucker for gorgeous, doomed warriors. Somehow, I'm okay with that.