Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-59998-671-X
Fantasy Romance, 2007
In Nina Mamone’s Hard to Guard, wyrms (who can shape-change into humans) exist in the world but Guardians are charged to keep their existence a secret from unsuspecting humans. This is fine except for the fact that these wyrms can be a nuisance to guard as they can be quite naughty indeed. Such is the wyrm who has gone AWOL in this story, much to Guardian Connor McKenna’s irritation. His charge Raul has disappeared to who knows where and it is his responsibility to locate the mischievous wyrm before he causes too much havoc.
In any case, the wyrms needed babysitters. Not every second — they weren’t total vegetables — but more like a daily check-in. Someone needed to make sure that they hadn’t maxed out their credit cards buying sparkly diamonds on QVC, or gorged themselves at the pastry shop, or found a willing partner and sexed themselves into a coma.
Fortunately for Connor, he isn’t the only Guardian who is missing his charge at the moment. Guardian Sorcha’s charge Louis has also gone AWOL.
Sorcha had once heard of a wyrm that had taken human form and eaten its way through five Starbucks in an hour’s time. By the time they’d got to him, the stores were cleaned out — the pastries, the coffee, the whipped cream… everything. The wyrm had been so hyped on caffeine and sugar he’d been breathing fire. Only tiny puffs on each exhale, but they were still lucky there had been no damage and that no one had gone to the tabloids.
She and Connor have been lusting after each other for five years but for some reason they act like infatuated kids in the playground all the while, with her saying things to drive him away and he being content to drool after her from afar. With a plot involving wyrm semen brewing (don’t ask, but it’s not as bad as it could have been, let’s just say), these two may finally have a chance to work things out together.
I find myself enjoying Hard to Guard despite myself. I am not to keen on the fact that the sex scenes here take place because the characters pretty much forget themselves and the job they are doing at the heat of the moment. The author also creates a plot that brings up the very serious threat of sexual assault which doesn’t sit well with the tongue-in-cheek feel of the story. The ending is too abrupt. Most importantly, Sorcha and Connor must be some of the most addled twits around to have misread each other for five years.
Yet, for all the flaws in this story, I find myself enjoying the story mostly due to the hero. Connor is a pretty delicious hero as he’s all macho and action figure in the making (he’s a construction worker, mind you) but at the same time he’s also tongue-tied and introverted when it comes to women. The sex scenes can get pretty heated up as well.
I understand that this one is Nina Mamone’s debut effort. If this is the case, this is a pretty good, if very flawed, read and I will be interested to see what Ms Mamone can do with a longer story.