Jose is a Calydon, who is believed to be a fire God via his ability to wield fire, and he is somehow able to keep himself from turning Rogue. Jose is the epitome of pure evil. He destroys everything he touches, murders without guilt or question, and he is after Rhiannon. Furthermore, we learn that five years prior to the beginning of this story, Jose tortured our heroine. He beat her, violated her, and forced her to do his bidding; sexually, mentally, and metaphysically. I cannot even begin to express how disgusted I was by this character; he clearly passed the test of evil supervillain. No matter how depraved I already believed him to be, he continued to shock me; I was salivating at the thought of him dying!
So, to say that Stephanie Rowe created the perfect villain and the perfect heroine would be an understatement. Rhiannon is broken inside and how could she not be? As a woman and a reader, this book speaks to you because we empathize with a character that has been traumatized through violence by the man who is supposed to love her. To elaborate, Rhiannon is Jose’s Sheva, which means she is his destined mate, his lover, and his doom. According to the lore, this female and her destined Calydon warrior will complete five stages to a bond that will ultimately destroy them, including falling in love. Rhiannon was also fated to be the guardian who could save her people and was set on the path to kill Jose, but she also turned out to be this female.
Unfortunately, because Jose could manipulate the fates of them both, Rhiannon was abused by this sadistic male until her escape. The knowledge found within the drama of this piece of the story, and the conflict caused by it made me fall in love with this book. It is hard not to admire a strong female character who has endured such unfathomable horrors. Furthermore, I love Rhiannon for being able to let down her shields slowly throughout this story and triumph with the help of our hero.
Incoming! Here is Zach Roderick, the all-male alpha Order of the Blade member and damn if he isn’t tantalizingly beautiful in every way I want a hero to be! Zach joins us in the second chapter as he is brought into the hellacious South American jungle trying to save his fellow teammate Thano. Thano is turning Rogue, and Zach follows a much older Order member named Rohan claiming to be able to save his friend and fellow warrior. Zach is loyal, tough, and fierce. I loved him instantly because throughout the entire story, through all the issues surrounding him, he refused to fail in saving his friend.
Zach is also damaged to the very core. People so dear to him were lost forever, murdered and killed because of him, which left him unable to call forth his own inner power. I could feel Zach’s inner turmoil throughout the story because he is so touched by the devastation of his past. I think that reason alone is part of why I was rooting so hard for Rhiannon and Zach as a couple. They both had demons to fight, had suppressed their needs as individuals, and both had so much courage left to find.
I wanted to scream at Rhiannon part of the time for being so stubborn about her feelings for Zach. Then, I would find myself tearing up because she was fighting so hard to let another man in, to trust him, despite being abused in every way imaginable. Zach had experienced an indescribable loss at his own hands. Therefore, being rendered incapable of summoning his power was frustrating, but logical at the same time. Ultimately, I think these aspects led to the strength of the story though, because such hurtles are what made their domination over evil that much more exhilarating!
Now, aside from the hero and heroine (as well as our atrocious villain), there are two other characters that have to be mentioned; who made this story that much better. We have Jordyn, who is Rhiannon’s boss and friend. Then, there is Eric, a supposed Calydon posing as an Order member on Rohan’s team. Jordyn turns out to be a more-than-helpful former Sheva who is determined to help and save Rhiannon after she figures out her secret. She follows Rhiannon, with a bazooka on her shoulder, ready to kill, and you cannot help but love this gal. Eric instantly becomes infatuated with her, and sets out to help her save Rhiannon, save Zach, and of course destroy Jose.
These two are amazing! Jordyn is impressive with her wit and downright undeniable ferocity. She is also loyal and remarkably compassionate. As one of the only known Sheva’s to not die after killing her Calydon mate, I knew she was tough; hard to the core. So, watching her fight for Rhiannon and use logic to get Rohan’s team on her side to help, rather than standby as Rohan demanded, made me excited. Eric, who turns out not to be a Calydon, helps out in other ways, but he is no less tough than the deadly warriors and he fun as hell. Eric made me grin like little school girl every time he spoke in this book. He is hilarious, devoted to his brother, and does what is right regardless of the consequences (plus, he has an appetite for sarcasm and sexuality).
Without a doubt, every character in this book did more than stir the sensual heat, create laughter, manifest hatred, and crave a good ending from me. Stephanie Rowe created perfection with this book in the paranormal realm. I did not want the story to end, and what is even more important, is that I want more. I will most definitely be on the lookout for the next Order of the Blade. Plus, I will definitely be picking up the stories prior to this one; this book was that good.
**ARC provided by Book Monsters Promotions**
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