Massive Spoilers, as always....
This is the sixth book in the Eternal Guardians series, and it focuses on Titus, the descendant of the hero Odysseus. Titus has the ability of telepathy, and has some form of touch empathy. The empathy is more of a disadvantage to him, because whenever someone touches his skin, he is assaulted with all of their emotions, which overwhelms him. As a result of this, Titus avoids physical contact, wearing gloves constantly. I can see how this would be a large problem in a battle situation!
We were introduced to Titus in more detail in the last installment, Enslaved. We also met Natasa, the female lead of this story, in the previous book as well. Natasa arrived at the Misos colony searching for Maelea, but would not reveal why. At that point in time Maelea was being hunted by more than one interested party, all of whom were trying to kill her. The Guardians detained Natasa and tried to question her about why she was there, but she managed to escape; but not before Titus met her and found that he was having a hard time reading her thoughts. He touched her (on purpose) and found that nothing happened. After her escape, he made an effort to track her, and has been trying to find her ever since.
He doesn’t have to wait too terribly long, because Natasa shows up in Argolea on the day of their ceremony celebrating the recent demise of Atalanta, the Guardians’ biggest enemy. Natasa is still looking for Maelea, and this time gets into the same room with her. Maelea is afraid at first, but is surprised when all Natasa wants to ask her is if she has any idea where she might find Prometheus. Maelea doesn’t have any idea, and Natasa thanks her and jumps out of her window. Maelea’s soulmate Gryphon arrives to escort her to the ceremony, and Maelea tells him what just happened, and that while she sensed a great power within Natasa that was on the verge of being released. Gryphon alerts the others, who start combing the castle for Natasa. They suspect that she is working for Hades, and is trying to get to the Orb of Kronos.
The Guardians and their Queen, Isadora, have found the earth and air element (earth in Tempted on Pandora island, and air in Enraptured because Orpheus remembered where he hid it in a past life) They are still searching for the fire and water element. Titus tracks her down heading towards the portal to the human realm, and now Natasa is running, trying desperately to get away. Some random guard steps in front of her and she pushes back at him. She is shocked when the guard screams and falls to the ground - with holes in the shape of her hands burnt into his chest, through his armor. With the Guardians bearing down on her she jumps for the portal. Titus manages to catch up to her just in time to grab her foot as she runs through and is pulled though with her. The portal sparks off and BOOM….burns out.
Now, a short history lesson….All of this relates back to the Orb of Kronos and the four elements that make it work. Prometheus is the Titan who made the Orb of Kronos. The Orb is a very powerful amulet was designed to release Kronus himself (Titan and former supreme god) from Tartarus, where he was imprisoned by his children, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. When the Titans were defeated by the Olympians (Zeus and company) and imprisoned in Tartarus, Prometheus was supposed to used the Orb to break Kronos and his people out. He didn’t, and scattered the four elements over the earth. He hid the actual Orb in Argolea. Argolea is the one realm that the Olympians could not enter.
Ever since the Guardians uncovered the Orb, every one of them have been pursuing it because it offers unlimited power, more power than any one being, mortal, immortal or otherwise, should have access to. For this crime of not handing over the Orb, Zeus had Prometheus chained to a rock in an undisclosed location, where everyday a giant eagle comes along and rips out his liver. He heals every night, and every day it happens all over again. Also, Zeus knew of a prophecy that Prometheus’ daughter would lead to Zeus’ downfall. So by chaining him up Zeus ensured that Prometheus would never have a child. We see a short scene between Hades, Zeus and Poseidon saying that they had to find Prometheus’ daughter, which made me think that Natasa MUST be who they are talking about. They tell Hades to focus on finding the water element, which only makes him suspicious that they are up to something and know more than they are telling. ( They are, and they do. These Greek gods are assholes.)
Natasa and Titus land on the other side of the portal, and Natasa takes off running. Titus tackles her to the ground and they fight, eventually ending up with Natasa holding a knife to his throat. Titus is completely taken aback by the fact that she can touch him, that he can touch her without the emotional transfer knocking him flat. He’s already attracted to her, almost addicted. She lets him go, tells him to back home, she will go her way and he will go his, and that will be the end of it. Titus disagrees, and says that he’s not going anywhere until she explains herself. About then a pack of Amazons show up. Natasa has been hiding with the Amazons in their tree city while on her quest, so she knows them, but she has to pass Titus off as her prisoner to keep him safe. As you may know, Amazons have no use for men. Well, they have one use. And it’s not pretty what they do with them afterwards. The Amazons take them to the city and grudgingly accept what she tells them about Titus. They tell their queen, however, and once she claps an eye on the pretty man she decides she must have him for herself. She has her guards attack and chain up Natasa, and bring Titus to her. He is helpless to defend himself, his empathy gift/weakness going into overdrive with all of these people grabbing on him. Natasa focuses her powers and manages to burn her way out of her restraints and rescue Titus from what was about to be a very terminal ritual with the Amazon Queen.
Right about the time they are trying to escape an army of angry horny women, Zagreus, Hades’ son, attacks the Amazons. He got a tip from dear old dad that the Amazons had been hiding his nymphs, his favorite torture victims. In exchange for this information he agreed to help Hades hunt down Natasa. They run from the tree city, chased by Zagreus’ satyrs. Natasa’s growing powers manifest again, this time in a fireball that she shoots from her hands. They wind up jumping off of a cliff to get away, landing in the ocean and take shelter in a cave. Following this, we learn a lot more about both Titus and Natasa both. She was injured on the way out of the city, and now is in shock from blood loss and hypothermia. As they talk and warm up, she asks him about why she can touch him. It turns out that his empathy is actually a curse, from a witch that Titus fooled around with and threw over. In essence she is the first woman that he has been able to touch without pain in a hundred years. On her side of the equation, she is burning up. She is always hot. His touch cools her down. Natasa is not only Prometheus’ daughter, she IS fire, unquenchable fire, the fire element in human form, which is why Hades and everybody else is hunting her.
She’s Armageddon in cowboy boots, destined to destroy the human realm, and anyone close to her when the element takes her over. She isn’t working for anyone, she is just trying to find out where her dad is so that he can stop this fire that is threatening to burn her up from the inside out. She has been in stasis for the last 3000 years or so, Zeus put her there. She woke up 6 months ago with no idea what was going on, not having aged at all. While she sleeps her fever spikes so high that Titus panics, taking her into the freezing water to cool her down. While she sleeps she dreams that she is on fire, consumed by flame. Titus eventually broke and makes a run for a phone, and calls Nick at the Misos colony for help.
The rest of the Guardians in Argolea are trying to find out what they can about Natasa. They suspect that she is a witch, so they go up into the mountains to speak to Delia, the leader of the coven. She says that Natasa isn’t one of hers, but tells them that Natasa is important to everyone, and what she is. Then she drops some knowledge on them about Titus’ ancestor Odysseus. Odysseus was kept captive for some time by a water nymph named Calypso. While there he bathed in a pool containing the water element from the Orb, and passed down that water’s properties through his bloodline. Thus, Titus has traces of the water element within him. This is why he can cool Natasa down, he’s the water to her fire. Also, Calypso gifted Odysseus with secret knowledge, she was a witch as well as a nymph, I think, and he passed that down through his genes as well. So here’s the breakdown: Natasa is fire, and they think the water element is hidden on Calypso’s island. Also, Calypso probably knows where Prometheus is chained.
Now everyone is gathered together at the Misos colony. Isadora and Casey and Callia are there too, despite their men’s protests. When Titus is in the presence of the Orb, along with Natasa by his side, he has access to that secret knowledge passed down to him from his ancestor. The fact that he can touch her, and can’t read her mind has been distracting him from all of these things that he should have put together before. For some reason, Theron and the other Guardians think that Natasa is trying to cause destruction, that she means harm, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Theron and Natasa have an intense conversation. Right about then they are told that Zagreus is attacking outside the colony. All hell breaks loose. While everyone is distracted with evacuating the colonists and fighting, Titus thinks he can find the way to Calypso’s island, thanks to the Orb, so with Zander and Callia’s help, him and Natasa head there.
Titus and Natasa are on Calypso’s island, trying to find the water nymph, and having no luck whatsoever. Natasa knows that the fire element is getting closer and closer to taking over. She’s afraid that she will kill Titus when it does, and just wants to be free of this thing, to not hurt anyone. At some point earlier in the book she made a deal with Poseidon (this was long before any of the events of this book happened, she was trying to get more time to save herself) that he could have the fire element inside of her in exchange for keeping her fever in check - she realizes what will happen if he gets his hands on it now, and eats hemlock, to kill herself, so that he can’t have the element. When Titus finds her she is very near dying. An eagle leads him to Calypso, who tells him that the hemlock will kill her within a day, and that “ The only way for the element to be free is at her rebirth.” Right about then Titus remembers that her name - Natasa - literally means, resurrection. Zeus had forbade anyone speaking about where Prometheus was hidden, but luckily Titus can read minds. He flat out asks Calypso if Prometheus can save Natasa, and she thinks back to him that he can free her, but he has to do it before the poison destroys the fire element inside of her body. He asks Calypso to touch him, and get hit with all of her emotions and memories, and more importantly, her knowledge of where to find Prometheus.
Back at the colony, Isadora had to have an emergency c section, and while she and Demetrius now have a baby girl, her blood pressure is dropping like a rock. Hades appears, because he still has a claim on her soul from the first book, when she traded it away to save Casey. Nick who has been a tore up mess this whole book offers Hades the location of the therillum in trade for sparing Isadora’s life and soul. Hades takes that deal, but wants more (greedy bastard) - he wants Nick, his body and soul right then and there. Nick trades himself for Isadora without a second thought. You see, she’s his soulmate (so he thinks) as well as Demetrius’ because they are twins - it’s really been messing with him and Dem both, Dem thinking that he’s not good enough for her, and Nick generally being jealous and telling Dem that she would be safer with him. Isadora has already smacked the shit out of Nick once in this book for kissing her.
Nick disappears with Hades, who entirely too smug, even though he is getting a demigod in trade. He tells Zagreus that Nick is all they need to harness Kronos’ powers. Zagreus and Hades call off the attack on the colony. About then Titus busts in, saying that Demetrius has to come with him RIGHT NOW. Turns out Prometheus is on Pandora, the island where Isadora found the earth element, where she and Dem were stranded in Tempted. Everybody heads through the portal that Dem opens, and the search for Prometheus is on. Once they find him, they have to fight off the giant eagle (you know, the one that comes by everyday to rip out his liver….) only to have Prometheus tell them that he can’t save Natasa, only Hades can cheat death.
Back on Calypso’s island, Natasa is minutes away from dying from hemlock poisoning. Poseidon appears, furious that she had found a way out of the deal they made. He takes his rage out on Calypso, as Natasa is dying before his eyes. Titus and the others storm in, and rush to Natasa. Poseidon insists that she is his, alive or death, and Prometheus tell him that fire is stronger than water…...and Natasa bursts into flame. The rest of the Argonauts drag Titus out of the house kicking and screaming, still trying to get to her. The fire burns down Calypso’s house, burns so high and hot that everyone is forced back and away from it. Titus collapses in the mud. Then the impossible happens - I’ve learned that with this series, expect the impossible - Natasa wakes up. Like the phoenix, like the meaning of her name, she is reborn through the fire! Titus and the others can hardly believe their eyes. Zeus and Poseidon appear, trying to take Natasa with them by force, but she is in complete control of her powers now, and backs them off with a wall of fire that they cannot break.
Here we have a quick check in with Nick, who has just arrived with Hades and Zagreus to Zagreus’ underground little slice of hell. We stay just long enough to find out one important fact - that unlike Nick (and everyone else) has always thought, Nick is not the son of Atalanta and some nameless human serial killer. His daddy is none other than Kronos himself. Kronos made Atalanta mortal for a brief time, so Atalanta was the human half of his genetic equation. I don’t know what’s about to go down with Nick, but I think that he is about to have a very um, uncomfortable time. His book is up next, and I can’t wait to start it.
Now, back in Argolea Titus and Natasa need to tie up some loose ends. Since her transformation, Titus can now read her mind. The downside is that his curse now works on her, and she can’t touch him without him getting the same emotional transfer that he gets with everyone else. Natasa is understandably upset, and wishes that she could just go back to being eaten alive by the fire element so that they could touch each other again. Titus is at a loss as well. I was beginning to think that this was a pretty messed up ending. Titus can’t even touch her while wearing gloves, he is still getting jolts of pain through them. They are both just miserable. Remember Hera’s soul mate curse on all of the Argonauts? That the one person that they love the most is the exact worst possible match for them? It was cruelly demonstrated in this case. Just when I was ready to throw my kindle across the room and get a drink, Lachesis appears to Titus and gives him some good advice. What follows is what is probably - no puns, haha, - the hottest scenes in this book. He has her tie him down and just touch him.
Eventually it isn’t painful, just intense. The fact that she loves him so much changes the way he reacts to it. He described it as a tiny electric shock, followed by pleasure. He just had to get used to it. **raises glass to author** Well done!
I am closing in on the last book in this series, which is Twisted. My sister in law, Laura, insists that it's the best one yet, so I am eager to get into it. This author does a good job of getting you interested in the next book by the end of the current story. I have an ARC to get out first (stretching my horizons again with another straight up romance), but Nick's story will be coming soon.
Until then, keep it between the pages.....