Flesh And Stone
by Vickie Taylor, paranormal (2006)
Berkley, $6.99, ISBN 0-425-20905-9

Flesh And Stone, like the previous book in Vickie Taylor's Les Gargouillen series for Berkley, is a solidly written and very entertaining paranormal romantic suspense. The suspense subplot this time around is better too. The only problem here is that this one is quite lacking as a romance.

The first few chapters of Flesh And Stone are exciting, but I suspect that readers new to the series will feel lost as we are plunged straight into the action in a dizzying pace without any "Previously on..." moments. Just be patient, however, and things will soon become clear. The back story will come later.

In this one, Connor Rihyad with his good buddies pull off a stunt that allows him to infiltrate a Minnesota Gargoyle cell. He learns that the Gargoyles in this particular cell haven't just been misbehaving, they have been very, very bad indeed. Connor quickly learns that these Gargoyles, under the leadership of someone who wants very badly to be the new David Koresh, have kidnapped a few women for breeding and sport. A plan involving training children to become soldiers seems also to be in motion.

Our heroine Mara Kincaide originally wanted to track down an MIA acquaintance of hers, only to end up as one of the women held captive by these villains. She and Connor soon learn that they are on the same side. The question now is whether these two will make it out of Minnesota alive after putting a stop to these villains.

Both hero and heroine are solid lead characters who can carry the story very well. I'm happy to report that Mara is a capable heroine who may be out of her depths in the sense that she has no idea that she is dealing with people who aren't exactly humans, but she is capable of taking care of herself pretty well. She's not stupid and she doesn't become a liability to the hero, hurray. The hero is, of course, competent - he is, after all, the hero. Both characters have some issues about love and such, and if I have a complain about the characters, it's how the author often have these characters bring up their issues in a repetitive manner.

But the bigger problem here is the believability of the romance. Connor and Mara are too busy to make eyes at each other and have quiet moments to know each other better, so I'd prefer that the author ends the story by having those two deciding to date a bit, know each other better, et cetera. Instead, Ms Taylor has the characters stuck with each other and promising to get married. It's too soon for these two to get married! Mara is only starting to learn about Connor's true nature by then... and she's marrying the man? I don't buy the happy ending. Ms Taylor has these characters claiming to be in love, but all I see is the same old "destined bond" cliché in motion.

Flesh And Stone is a solidly paced and very entertaining paranormal romantic suspense, but that's mostly because it is a far better thriller than a romance. Your reaction to this book depends largely on what you are seeking in your romance novels, I suppose. I'm not too picky in this instance, especially when I am entertained so well by the story, so as far as I'm concerned, this one is definitely a pretty good read.

Rating: 84

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