Secrets (the Guardian Trilogy #1), by Liz Schulte
Exciting and entertaining paranormal suspense/romance. After Olivia has a chance encounter with a handsome, compelling stranger, frightening and tragic things begin to happen all around her. In the meantime, she and the stranger find themselves irresistably attracted to each other - against both their better judgments - and Olivia is faced with a destiny she doesn't want and a heartbreaking choice.
This kept me reading to find out what happens next. It's clear from the beginning that Holden is no ordinary human; the hints and suggestions that are dropped during the chapters in Holden's point of view make an entertaining puzzle, and, for me, the big reveal comes at exactly the right point in the story.
I liked the alternating sections in Olivia's and Holden's points of view, overlapping so we see the events of the story through each character's eyes. Most scenes aren't repeated; usually it's done so that a chapter takes place in one character's point of view, then the next chapter overlaps the end of that bit of the action so we get the other character's reflections and reaction as the story moves on. I thought that was very well done.
The characters of Holden and Olivia and engaging and likable, as is Olivia's best friend Juliet. The other mysterious guy involved, Quintus, doesn't have quite as much personality, he seems kind of smug and perfect, but that seems to be on purpose - he's supposedly a force for good but without real empathy for human emotions. I did have a little trouble with Olivia; she seemd kind of stubborn and prickly, with a tendency to sometimes make not very smart decisions. This is something I've noticed in contemporary urban fantasy/paranormal (though I'll admit I haven't read a lot in the genre) - orneryness being used to show that a female character is "strong". However, I did like how thoughtful she is in evaluating the realities of who Holden is and if she can deal with that. And I liked it that when confronted with Holden's supernatural identity, she was able to accept it without denying what's been right in front of her all along. It bugs me when characters refuse to accept the magic or supernatural things that are happening even when they see them happening right in front of them.
There's some pretty depressing stuff that happens in the book, which made it a little hard to get through, and the ending is inconclusive. But I enjoyed it enough to download the sample for the next book right away.
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