Title: The Protector
Author: Cooper West and Paul Morey (Narrator)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 5, 2014
Genre(s): Paranormal, Contemporary, Shifters, Mystery
Length: 8 hrs and 47 mins
Reviewed by: Brooklyn
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Guardsmen are always matched in a bonded pair. The Protector can shift into a weredog, and the human partner is his Handler. They are incredibly rare and highly valued, but people also fear them for their mystical abilities. No Protector in living memory has outlived his Handler—until Alex Taylor.
Now a widower, Alex lives a lonely half-life and faces day after day of grief with no hope for happiness in the future. When he unexpectedly bonds with the young and vibrant Handler Marcus Stephanek, Alex is angry and unwilling to leave the memory of his former Handler behind. He pushes Marcus away and tries to distance himself from their bond. But then a mysterious villain who has been secretly shadowing Alex for years sets his plan in motion. Alex and Marcus must learn to trust their bond and love each other, or risk not only their own lives but the lives of those closest to them.
It’s been three years since Alex’s bond-mate Handler, Theo, was murdered and he hasn’t let go. He wasn’t supposed to live. In all of history, no Protector has survived the death of their Handler. Until Alex. So he spends his days in grief and anger over his situation. When he accidentally and surprisingly bonds with Marcus, he lashes out, refusing to acknowledge or accept Marcus or their bond. Their friends try to convince Alex to give Marcus a chance, but he doesn’t listen.
Alex is an utter ass to Marcus for more than 75% of the story. It got so infuriating, I wanted to jump in and smack Alex upside the head. Because of his unusual situation (surviving his Handler’s death), everyone treats Alex differently, letting him get away with far too much. It was completely unfair. There were so many times I felt like I couldn’t go any further because I was so mad at Alex and at times everyone else for the way they treated Marcus as well. I’m so glad I listened to this in the car by myself, because I was definitely yelling and cursing at the characters.
Unfortunately, Alex doesn’t “get his”. He didn’t get that “smack you in the face moment” when he realizes what an ass he’s been. Instead it’s a gradual awakening. When their friends get in trouble and some nut job is after Alex for research, instinct makes Alex work with Marcus to help their friends and take down the psycho. Their bond strengthens and Alex finally realizes he hasn’t been fair to Marcus or given him a chance.
Eventually it all works out of course, but I really think Alex’s attitude should have started resolving itself far earlier in the story than three-quarters in. If I wasn’t such a fan of shifter stories and bond-mates, I might have given up on this before the end.
But I love shifter stories and the variation depicted in this story (Protector/Handler bond mates) is so different from anything else I’ve read, I was sucked in and just couldn’t turn it off. I’m glad I stuck with it.
The narration was performed by Paul Morey. And while his voice is sometimes too deep for some of the characters, he does any amazing job giving the characters their own voice. This isn’t the first of his narrations I’ve listened to and I know it won’t be the last.
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