Title: The Protector
Author: Cooper West
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Mystery/Suspense. Paranormal, Shapeshifters.
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.
This is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed from the very first page right through to the very last word and went straight back to the beginning to read it again.
The blurb sets up the world this story is set in very well except for the fact that when a Handler dies their bonded Protector always dies as well. Until Handler Theo Taylor is killed and his Protector Alex doesn’t die. He has to be dragged off the body like a rabid dog and 3 years later is still grieving for his Handler, living an isolated half-life and wishing for death every day. That’s not to say he’s suicidal but just that he doesn’t expect to be alive and doesn’t know how to live with the loss of the love of his life, his Handler. So when he unexpectedly bonds with a new Handler Marcus Stephanek he’s totally unprepared for it and for the way Marcus makes him feel.
As Marcus and Alex try to learn to live together and form some sort of working partnership we gradually learn just how unique Alex is as a Protector and the plot around him thickens as more and more unusual things start to happen to the people around him until Alex suddenly realizes he no longer wants to die and definitely doesn’t want to risk having to live without Marcus should he die.
My absolute favourite bits of the book are the scenes when Alex is in his dog form, especially the scene when he is playing fetch with Marcus and then cuddling up to Marcus to reassure himself his Handler is still alive after his friend is shot. Least favourite bit? It ended too soon for me, I could have happily read another 100 pages at least.
A highly recommended book and I will certainly be checking out other books by this author.
Reviewed by Smidgeson