Friday, September 12, 2014

Emmy's Book Review... Marked

Let me qualify that:  This is the first book of a series.  While there were parts I loved, there were parts I didn’t like as much.  In any first novel of a series you always have plenty of world building and things that have to be explained that may or may not take away from the main story you are trying to tell.  That does not mean that I am not going to read the second book, I am.  So, I’m not in love (with the series, yet), but the premise (the sex) is good!

This is a new series that my sister-in-law recommended to me.  
The setting is based upon Greek myths, specifically the myths of Jason and the Argonauts.  it goes something like this:

The Eternal Guardians are the descendants of the classic heroes of myth: Hercules, Achilles, Perseus, etc etc.  They are the guardians of the portal between their world (Argolea) and the human world.  Argolea is ruled by Leonidas, whom you may know as the king of Sparta in 300.  Basically, this race of people were set apart in their own little world by the gods  (greek pantheon, think Zeus ,Hera etc).   They often cross over to the human world to mess around because they are obsessed with human culture, much like in Greek myth the gods were always messing around with the humans.  

The Eternal Guardians are guarding the portal from demons, who are under the command of Atalanta.  She was supposed to be the sole female Guardian, but my impression of that was that she was pretty much told “you can’t be a guardian, you’re a girl” so she goes off and makes a deal with Hades to make her immortal.  She is amassing a demon army and killing every Argolean she can get her hands on.  They have been looking for a particular person, known as the chosen one, because Atalanta wants to kill the chosen one; because this person is the only loophole in her contract with Hades.  If the chosen ones unite, then Atalanta’s immortality is forfeit and the real war between the realms can begin. The Argoleans (ultimately) want to find her because she is the only one who can save the princess.

“There shall be two in every era, born of god and earth and men. One of strength and one of courage, two separate halves to bring the end. And they shall be known by the markings they bear, united in the twenty-seventh year. Only joined will the strong survive, to dissolve the pact and bring the end to life.”

The book starts off with Isadora, who is the princess of Argolea, sneaking through the portal into the human world.  Theron, the leader of the Argonauts and her fiance, follows her through the portal to find her and bring her back home. He finds her in a strip club, eyeballing a waitress, for reasons unknown at this time.  He picks her up and pretty much says, hey, we’re going back home.  All this is noticed by the waitress that Isadora was watching, who is Acacia Simonopolus, known as Casey.
Casey is the heroine of this piece.  She is working part time at the strip club as a waitress to make ends meet while she is working days at her late grandmother’s book store.  The bookstore was her grandmother’s life, so Casey is trying to keep it going in her memory.  At this point in the story we know nothing about her, other than these facts, and that she noticed the hot guy walk in the club and walk out with the blonde.  And there is a regular customer named Nick who is always watching her, and acts like he’s trying to protect her.  Nick comes off as rather creepy at first.

Theron walks out of the club with Isadora and is attacked by a group of demons.  He opens a portal and sends the princess back to Argolea, saving her.  The demons attack him, and he is in the middle of a beatdown when Casey walks out out of the club.  She tries to help him, and the demons take one look at her and disappear.  She didn’t know it at the time, but they recognized her as being the one they were looking for and ran back home to tell Atalanta.  Casey goes to Theron and helps him into her car, meaning to take him to the hospital, because he is badly injured.  Using some Argolean mind trick, he convinces her to take her to her home rather than to the hospital.  She does so, and attraction between the two of them ensues. No sooner than she gets him to her home and settled in than there is a knock on the door.  Nick has followed her home, to make sure she made it ok.  I found this creepy, and wondered why she didn’t call the cops to have the crazy stalker picked up.  She brushes it off as , “oh he’s just trying to look out for me” and gets rid of him.  She makes Theron comfortable in her spare bedroom, where he tells her he just needs sleep and time to heal.  She gives him the things he asks for - washrags soaked in lavender oil laid across his wounds - and lets him sleep.

Some time later the next afternoon she checks on him, and he his much improved, which amazes her.  She makes him a meal and they have a conversation.  A word or two about Theron:   Theron is engaged to Isadora, but he doesn’t not love her, nor she him.  At this point he thinks that Casey is just a human, and therefore has no problem playing with her a bit.  I HAVE ISSUES WITH THIS PART OF THE STORY.  He uses his jedi mind trick when she becomes suspicious of his story to convince her that SHE hit HIM with her car and that’s why she brought him to her house.  And that she wants to help him.  That she wants to give him ANYTHING HE NEEDS.  That made me raise my eyebrow right there, because he was attracted to her, he knew she was attracted to him, and he used that to turn her on, plant the suggestion to mess around with him.  To him, she’s just a lowly human right, just a plaything for his kind anyway. Hell, she was already attracted to him, he didn’t have to do that, all he had to do was ask.   I was not cool with this.  Eventually he notices the mark on her back, before they get down to business.  He recognizes what it means, and runs out of there like his ass is on fire back to Argolea to tell the king.  Casey is left frustrated and not a little bit pissed off. Better frustrated than mind-raped, I say.

Back in Argolea we learn a few things.  The king, Leonidas, is dying.  Argoleans have about a five hundred year life span, and he is sliding down the slope quickly.  Isadora, the princess is his heir, but she is weak, not nearly as strong and capable as the average Argolean.  No one knows why this is.  Isadora has found a prophecy that explains it all.  In every generation a pair of people are chosen, marked by a certain birthmark.  When the pair reaches a certain age they will begin to sicken, and unless they are brought together they will both die.  Isadora has figured out that Casey is her pair, and the focus of this prophecy.  The Argolean half of her is dying, and the human half is taking over. If she and Casey are united the prophecy says “the strong will survive.” meaning that Isadora would absorb Casey’s Aroglean half, making her strong again, but this process would probably kill Casey.

Theron brings his message to the king, who immediately wants him to bring her back to unite with Casey.  Both he and Theron know what this would mean for Casey.  He’s not happy about it, but goes back across the portal to try and find her again.  He tracks her down to her bookstore, where she shouldn’t remember him, but does. His mind magic doesn’t work as perfectly on her as it would were she a pure human.  Demons attack as they are talking and the bookstore is destroyed.  Nick, Casey’s stalker shows up, and reveals himself to be more than just a creepy guy who hangs out at strip clubs - he is part Argolean himself and has been watching Casey because she knows she is one of his kind.  The half human/half Argoleans are called Misos, and there are vastly more of them than Theron ever suspected.  The Argoleans have been told all of their lives that there are no half breeds, that they are the superior race, and that humans are below them.  Nick brings Theron and Casey to a Misos colony, and in doing so turns Theron’s previously held beliefs on their ear.  He is shocked, and angry; all his life, he and all his fellow guardians, all of his people have been lied to!   These people have been living without the help of Argolea, defending themselves against demon attacks.  Some of the colonists have gifts similar to people of his realm.  Theron makes a change, and pledges to help and defend the Misos.  Also, he realizes that Casey is his soulmate, and thus would do anything to save her.

Back in the other realm, Isadora knows that she has to survive, being the heir to the throne, but feels badly that the fulfillment of the prophecy would likely kill her sister.  She tries to do what she can to ensure that her sister’s soul would go directly to the Blessed Lands, rather than wind up anyplace else.  Isadora goes to Persephone to ask to see Hades to spare Casey’s life.  She winds up bargaining away her own soul, which made me think more of her. Out of this entire book the characters I like the best were Hades and Persephone. They are kinky and hilarious, and  I’d read a book about them anyday.  

On Earth, the demons attack the Misos colony and chaos ensues.  Theron winds up taking Casey back across to Argolis and hiding her from his fellow Guardians, who have been ordered to bring her and Isadora together.  Hades interferes and kidnaps Casey, doing what should have been done from the beginning, laying it all out straight for her.   Casey decides to give her life, which was the point of the whole bargain.  She and Isadora are united, but to everyone’s surprise:  They both live!! **Cheers** Isadora’s soul is still bargained to Hades though, which I’m sure they will take care of in a later book.

I liked the use of Greek Myths, very much.  I’m something of a mythology fiend, so that was the best part for me.  I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the Guardians and other gods and such come to life.  Although I found the story to drag in points, I still enjoyed it.  I will be starting Book #2, Entwined, shortly.

Happy Reading,

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