Title: Warders: Volume Two
Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 365 Pages
Category: Urban Fantasy
At a Glance: Badass demon hunters looking for true love, with a reprise. Definitely worth the read!
Reviewed By: Caer
Blurb: Most humans live in blissful ignorance, never dreaming of the frightening surprises and paranormal danger that lurks in the night. Most… but not all. These few who stand against the darkness are the Warders, men who fight demons and square off against all kinds of creatures from the pit with only their brothers-in-arms and their lovers—their Hearths—to strengthen them in the unending battle of good versus evil.
Review: This title is a collection of three previously-published novellas: Sinnerman, Nexus, and Cherish Your Name. Each novella follows a different Warder (aka demon hunter) as he finds/keeps his one true love.
I highly suggest reading Volume One before this one. Calmes makes no effort to catch readers up who haven’t read the first three stories and you’d likely be lost.
In Sinnerman we see Warder Jackson grapple with his feelings after he finds his hearth cheating on him. Then Raphael, who we also met in the previous book, comes to pull him out of his despair with sex. Seriously, that’s how the plot goes. Raphael treats Jackson like a sex toy until Jackson heals enough to say no, and then Raphael instantly becomes the perfect boyfriend. Add in a weird side-plot that didn’t really do anything for the story I could see, and delusions of grandeur on the part of the cheating ex, and boom. Sinnerman.
As you might be able to tell this one was a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, losing a partner is hard. It’s harder for a Warder, with the burdens they carry and the importance of a hearth in their lives. I get that. I don’t need it in my romance, though. I would have really appreciated it if this book had kinda glossed over that a bit more. It was depressing to read.
Furthermore, I’ve never understood the whole “best way to get over one lover is to get under another” philosophy, but wow is it milked here! Marvin Gaye must have had a hand in writing this, because sexual healing was foundational to the story.
On the other hand, once Jackson got through his feels, I really liked how he and Raphael fit together. Raphael is deeper than he lets on, and there’s a lot of character growth for both he and Jackson through their relationship. After slogging through Jackson’s depression, his interactions with Raphael seemed way more fun by comparison. There’s a scene with the other Warders defending Raphael that I found wonderful to read, too.
There’s lots of angst, lots of action, and quite a bit more world-building than we’ve seen in previous installments of this series, too. That helped me get over the bits I didn’t like to actually enjoy the story by the end.
Then we hit Nexus, and I loved, loved, loved Marcus and Joe! Warder Marcus and his hearth Joe have been together about six years when this story starts, and everything about them is wonderful. They go to visit Joe’s family and run into demon trouble while there—lots of sweetness between Marcus and Joe, tons of action, and a climactic moment at the end I didn’t see coming that kept me on the edge of my seat. We also get to see all of the Warders again (although not their hearths) as they all come together to help Marcus out. Yay!
Nexus would have been my favorite of this book if Cherish Your Name wasn’t here. But it IS! Aren’t we fortunate? We get a whole new story with Malic and Dylan (previously seen in Volume One’s Tooth and Nail)! Malic accompanies Dylan home for Christmas, and watching his young hearth interacting with all of his same-age friends causes Malic to doubt the longevity of their relationship. Dylan also has some past trauma to handle, Malic has to navigate family issues for the first time in his life, and unanticipated demon stuff could keep Malic and Dylan apart forever. Is their bond strong enough to win the day?
I adored this story. It’s my favorite of all of them, and I caught myself rereading it several times because I loved it so much. Dylan is as sassy and stubborn as ever, Malic is just as confounded by it, and adding in a whole lot of family drama just elevated everything to the next level. Honestly, Dylan and Malic alone are reason enough to read the whole series.
I much prefer this volume to Volume One! The first part of the second story dragged, but otherwise there was more action, more sweetness, more entertaining interactions, just overall more than we got before. I still have some lingering questions—especially about the head of our Warder clutch!—that I hope eventually get answered, but I’m not holding my breath. Definitely worth the read!
You can buy Warders: Volume Two here: