Title: Blood Bathory: Be Not Proud (The Guardians of Gaia #3)
Author: Ari McKay
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: August 6th 2018
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Page Count: 360 pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 2.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
Death, be not proud…
The conclusion of the war between Elizabeth Bathory and the Guardians of Gaia draws closer, but the theriomorphs and their allies are caught between vampires loyal to Elizabeth Bathory’s daughter, Anna, and humans controlled by Elizabeth and her sire, Thrace. With the forces of evil now pressing on them from two sides, the theriomorphs need help, and they need it fast!
And soonest our best men with thee do go…
It has been five hundred years since Antonio de Barajas, one of the oldest surviving theriomorphs, lost his mate at the hands of his worst enemy. But Gaia never revealed the whole truth about Raphael’s fate, and Antonio is shocked when Raphael arrives to train Evan St. John and Adam Carson as true Dark Guardians. Yet the man who returns after so long is not the same man Antonio once loved. The hard and lonely life as Gaia’s hunter has changed Raphael almost as much as his lost memories of Antonio and the love they once shared.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men…
Antonio must work with the stranger who wears his lover’s face, and while Raphael is welcomed by most of the team, one member sees his return as a threat to his own place in Antonio’s life. But Thrace has allied himself with terrorists who possess a weapon of mass destruction. Now the theriomorphs and Dark Guardians must work together in a race against time to discover Thrace’s plan. Even as Antonio and Raphael are irresistibly drawn to one another, Antonio risks losing far more than his heart this time. If he and his team fail in their mission, millions will die, for Thrace will stop at nothing to destroy Gaia once and for all.
As with the other books in the series, there is a relationship that needs to be coaxed. For a change, there are three people involved and a relationship from an earlier book needs to be unpicked and a new one established but keeping everyone happy. Characterisation remains detailed but distant. All emotions are dampened and any tension between individuals, or even at a personal level, is ironed out without any lasting effect. The effect is that there are no characters, good or bad that stand out. Even the central characters are interchangeable and with the common structure between books, this situation is aggravated.
The story has a clear structure with events occurring in spaces that make sense and are well described. There is limited control over the passage of time with the elimination of any delays brought about by travel. As a result, there is no sense of distance. Obviously, the acquired powers of the characters influence travel but little is done to explore this.
The story offers a number of situations where tension could have been developed and a richer and more poignant book provided. What is provided is a set of scenarios where all tension is resolved in a simplistic and somewhat unrealistic manner. The consequence of this is that when such situations occur the reader knows to not invest in their resolution and all will be well very soon.
The magic system and skills development is also another area where there was the opportunity for exploration, but individuals have little or no problem accommodating to change and all develop rapidly to their potential.
Attitudes are probably the most frustrating. Despite there being a clear division between good and bad, it is the good guys who are the most violent; the bad guys are bad by reputation.
The resolution of the central relationship is clearly presented but more could have been made of age differences and the passage of time. The ‘loser’ in this situation is very easily swayed by individuals who have no obvious influence, but it seems that as soon as a character makes a suggestion it is a good one and one to be accepted without question. The representation of passion is appropriate and the sex described clearly. However, as with the unquestioning nature of all things, there is no angst around sex in a modern context.
The issue of the flow of time aside, there is generally a good pace to the story with activities going on all the time that have some variety. What is noticeable however is that the core action of the story occurs in the last 10% of the book. The consequence of this is that there is a marked change of pace towards the end in terms of the presentation of scenes, but there is a concomitant reduction in detail.
The story was tied up very quickly and it felt rushed compared to the rest of the book and the series as a whole. There are two baddies, a world-threatening event as well as all the outstanding personal stuff to be resolved. The author does this by introducing surprise factors that conveniently help in the resolution. What aids the ending, but not necessarily in a good way, is that the reader has come to expect that things will just work out alright and of course they do.