Review of Twilight Guardians by Maggie Shayne

Blurb:

They told 20-year-old Charlie O’Malley that they had a cure for the rare blood condition that would eventually kill her–an untested, experimental cure. All they wanted in return was for her to join their elite military team and train to kill the Undead.

She took the deal, not because she cared so much about extending her life, but because it would make her strong–stronger than ordinary humans. Strong enough to kill the vampire who’d pretended to love her, taken her blood, used her body, and murdered her mother.

Killian was the last of his kind, or so he thought. When he found Charlie, he felt the pull. She had the rare Belladonna Antigen all vampires had as humans. Vampires were compelled to protect those rare mortals they called The Chosen. But with Charlie, the bond was different, more poweful than anything he’s felt before, and impossible to resist, even though surrendering to it will probably get him killed.

Ancient vampire elders Rhiannon and Roland come out of exile, risking their lives to help their mortal friend Roxy reclaim her granddaughter. But before the tale ends, their lives will be forever changed.

Join Maggie Shayne as she returns to her most beloved series of all time with this new beginning….

Wings in the Night: Reborn

Rating and Audience:

I think this book ranks somewhere in the 9-9.2 range on a 10 point scale. Some of the sentence structure in the beginning bothered me and had me rereading passages to make sure I understood what was being said, but that was REAL early in the story. There are some other things that stop me from giving the book top marks but I will discuss those below. There are a couple of steamy scenes but they are fairly mild in nature–meaning yes, there is sex but it isn’t overly detailed and if you are the type that skips these scenes, you won’t really miss any key parts of the story.

Review:

I managed to discover Maggie Shayne’s books a few years ago. I bought a grab bag of paperback books at a library sale and luckily, there were several vampire books in the mix, including one of Shayne’s Wings in the Night novels. Lemme tell you, that bag of books got me hooked on several authors and has made me a perennial customer at out local library’s sale.

Maggie’s Wings in the Night novels revolve around a pretty common story line- every one has a true soul-mate, even vampires. The draw between the two halves of a single soul search each other out and when you meet The One, you automatically know. The fated pair are inexplicably drawn to one another and they face seemingly insurmountable odds to find their happily ever after.

The vampires and the Chosen in these books share a common blood abnormality called the Belladonna antigen. Only those that have the antigen can become vampires and vampires are driven to protect all of the Chosen but they are more drawn to one individual in particular.

The original series ended with a showdown between the vampires and DPI, a secret division of the CIA that conducted all kinds of heinous experiments on both vampires and the Chosen, killing some and seriously hurting others. This book is the first installment of the Wings in the Night: Reborn series. It picks up a few years after the previous series.

At this point, the public believes that all of the vampires were destroyed so when a news story breaks reporting that several people with the Belladonna antigen were found exsanguinated, DPI assures the populace that the culprits have been executed and any who have the antigen can depend on the government’s help just in case there are still some vampires living out there in the world. [on a side note- “We’re from and the government and we’re here to help…” Really? Why do people keep falling for that one?] Of course I’ve read the earlier books so I know that DPI is a bunch of lying douchebags that seem hell bent on conducting Nazi-like experiments on a race they deem nothing more than animals. So, to me it is obvious that DPI is up to their old tricks and they have orchestrated the whole thing to get their hands on the Chosen again they’ve just changed tactics slightly to get willing volunteers for their experiments.

Charlie O’Malley doesn’t intend on going to DPI but she didn’t expect to be living off the grid with a grandmother she’s never met before either. She decides almost immediately that Roxy is definitely paranoid and possibly insane but Roxy has experience with DPI and knows how to avoid them and she is determined to keep them safe. Unfortunately, Charlie doesn’t know enough about her new world and decides to run away when she learns the man she’s been dreaming about and falling for is one of the undead. Now in the hands of DPI, she has to learn the hard way just which side is the right one.

Meanwhile, news of the attacks travels to Hotel Transylvania where many of the survivors of Vampire Armageddon have been hiding. The vamps are getting restless, they are tired of hiding and they don’t like the idea of DPI causing another witch hunt. The elders are trying to decide how to act when they find out that a group of their own has gone rogue and the granddaughter of an ally-the oldest of the chosen- is in DPI’s hands.

I waited for months to get my hands on this book. I love the Wings in the Night series and I was very excited to hear that the author was bringing it back and even more so when I learned that Rhiannon would be coming back as well. (Rhiannon and her pet panther, Pandora, are two of my favorite characters from the original series.)

I will say that there is a lot going on in the book with the threat of rouge vampire attacks and DPI being back in full force; it gives the characters a very distinct set of objectives that seem pretty cut and dry–rescue A, stop B, destroy C, etc.–but there are some unexpected twists that the writer throws at us proving that not everyone may be what they seem. This definitely raises the rating in my opinion. As a student of literature, I do like the fact that the characters aren’t static or stagnant. Maggie Shayne’s characters are vibrant and alive (even if they are undead); they grow and change throughout the tale. Hell, even the most hated character(s) sometimes show growth.

The problematic part for me is the relationship between Charlie and Killian. I know that the two are supposed to be together and find their happily ever after, but the development of love seems completely connected to the pull between vampire and chosen. There is talk of shared dreams before they actually met and maybe if that were explored a little more, the designation of actual love between the two instead of intense physical attraction would make more sense. But the actions of the characters convey that the emotion between the two is real; (I mean, come on, they are willing to die for each other so that has to mean something, right?) So the lack of emotional development doesn’t detract from the story much but it is the reason that it doesn’t get a perfect score.

I believe the new cast of characters introduced in this book will provide a good catalyst to relaunch the series and it could potentially last for a long time. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It had a little bit of everything, action, intrigue, romance and even some humor and I was unable to put it down until I knew just how the story ended.

Now the wait for the next installment begins.

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