Going into this read I was pretty nervous. I have been waiting for this book for years—basically ever since I met Michael—and I was afraid that I had built it up too much in my mind. Added to that was my worry over how the author would bring Michael down to the reader’s level. For the whole series he has been the guardian; the most powerful, the most all knowing. He’s always had an air about him that elevates him above the rest of the players in the world. You know he’s on their side, and you’re fascinated by him, but he doesn’t seem touchable. At one point Taylor thinks about how she used to view him and I think it perfectly displays what I mean.
She’d imagined sex with him, but in the same way she would an attractive movie star. Fun to look at, but never thinking anything more was remotely possible, and every fantasy packaged with a dose of blasphemous guilt.
So how do you make a guy like that touchable while still retaining the sense of ‘other’ that interested us in the first place? How do you connect a reader to him enough that it’s more than just a distant fascination? Brook found a way. She stripped him to the core and ripped away all the illusions Taylor and the reader had about the kind of person he is at the heart of him. The beginning showed a completely different side of Michael, one that put a major line of tension between him and Taylor, but it was a brilliant move. The author did a wonderful job of making the reader feel perfectly in tune with what Taylor was feeling because it was exactly what the author had been setting the reader up to feel the whole time we’ve known him. I believe she wanted us to build him up in our minds as we read the series just so she could rip him apart and shake up our assumptions when we finally knew him. It was perfectly done because swallowing the truth about him may have been harsh initially, but he became better than anything I could have imagined.
After the events of the beginning there was a time jump that I found a little jarring. I understand why it was necessary but I felt just as disoriented as Taylor did. Of course we don’t have much time to process or adjust before the action heats up. The whole series has been building up to this battle and all of a sudden everything is coming to a head. Things happen quickly and it’s hard for Taylor or Michael to find as much down time together as I would have liked. They’re still together during all of the investigation and the action filled moments, but I do admit to getting a little frustrated here and there over them being drawn into something work related when I just wanted them to have a breather so they could finish talking it out and get together.
We see a lot of previous characters as the action heats up. Not only do they have to confront Lucifer, there’s also still Anaria and Belial to deal with. Surprising alliances crop up and of course Khavi is always somewhere in the background playing toward an endgame only she can see. The buildup and the battle are not without losses and pain for some well loved characters. One of my favorite couples was impacted, though I’m thankful the author didn’t make us too aware of the particular details of that event. I even got weepy at one point in the book. I’m still horribly sad about how that turned out. I didn’t expect everyone to make it out, though, so I was braced for the unexpected at every page turn.
I was really pleased with how much I enjoyed Taylor and Michael together. Pairing the oldest guardian up with the youngest one could have created an uncomfortable power imbalance in their relationship, but I think the author pulled it off well. Michael has such love for each guardian (although his emotions for Taylor were a bit more than just that ;)) that he could never value them as less no matter what their power levels. He was always willing to help Taylor learn but he never gave off the teacher/student vibe either. He was just himself as we’ve always known him; the guy who will always do his best to help and care for those who matter.
Although the author cracked Michael open and showed us the hunger of the dragon underneath his skin, she also showed how incredibly emotional he could be. He wasn’t quoting poetry or showering Taylor with gifts, but he was so completely open in his dedication to Taylor and his determination to earn her forgiveness that I was swept away by him. I almost expected something darker for his personality but upon reflection I realized that this representation of him fit perfectly given what we’ve seen of him in the past—he was always calm and accepting and more willing to think the best of people rather than of himself. There was a yearning quality to his personality in regards to Taylor that was as sweet as it was painful. My heart hurt for him and his inability to see himself as others do. He was always hers instead of her being his because Michael could never have imagined it being any other way. Watching him get a HEA made me so happy. He deserved it.
I am horribly sorry to say goodbye to this series but I am also thrilled that the author had a defined story arc that she stuck to. It was wonderful to get a final resolution—the never ending series habit drives me insane!—and as much as I’m going to miss these characters I know they’re always available for a reread. I’m happy to say that the Guardian series ended on a high note with this book. If you haven’t tried this series yet, why not? You’re missing out.
And this was life. Andromeda at his side. Her fingers entwined with his. Knowing that she’d taken a step back, looked at him, saw the truth he’d tried to conceal—and even though she had every reason to lose faith in him and leave him to die, she was in his arms again.