Before reading Demon Night I just couldn't imagine 'cowboy' guardian Drifter, who was a very minor character in Demon Moon, being a very interesting leading man. Well I'll admit right here, I was wrong. But then I should know better, after all author Brook managed to make the very vain vampire Colin in Demon Moon into a great leading man and she does an even better job here with `Drifter' Ethan McCabe who is really no cowboy.
For 140 years Ethan has been a Guardian, fighting demons and protecting humans. When the lovely but seemingly fragile Charlie is targeted by a group that plans to turn Charlie into a vampire to use her to `motivate' Charlie's research scientist sister to their cause, Ethan is assigned to protect Charlie. Ethan plans on keeping Charlie safe from a distance, because up close there is something about Charlie that is just too distracting and in his business distraction could cost Ethan his head or Charlie her life. But when the villains become bold, Ethan's plans change and suddenly keeping Charlie very close seems like a very very good idea.
Charlie sees a hero in Ethan, but he's never been a white hat kind of guy. While Ethan is a Guardian he's no angel, before becoming a Guardian he died an outlaw's death in the old west. But Ethan is so solid and gorgeous that Charlie can't help but want him, even as she tries to keep herself from needing him, because Charlie doesn't allow herself to be needy and dependant, she is no longer that broken woman. Soon the connection between Charlie and Ethan grows and Ethan promises to `provide' everything she needs, but what Charlie really wants from Ethan, what she really needs from him is the one thing she can't ask for.
Ethan is a great hero and Brook does a terrific job of giving him the feel of being from another time. There's something just a bit quaint in way he strings together the words he uses when he speaks, even after taking into account the "aw shucks ma'am" affectation that he uses to get people to underestimate his intelligence. Also there's a difference in his attitudes that make him not a modern man, from his physical modesty to subtle way of expressing his feelings and the difference in what his words mean to him that Charlie doesn't pick up. Ethan is also puzzle. The prolog gives a hint of his unsavory past, but when Charlie first gets someone to tell her about Ethan's past it is hard to reconcile the difference between his beginnings with the outlaw thief and murderer became, We just have to wait until Charlie hears it from Ethan's own lips to figure it out. Part of what makes Ethan such an effective romantic lead is the way that he holds himself so tightly. Ethan's rigid control could have stolen emotional intensity from his relationship with Charlie, if Charlie didn't challenge his control so thoroughly. But instead, Ethan's restraint actually builds the tension between them so that when Ethan's restraint breaks from time to time he and Charlie really sizzle.
I have enjoyed every single one of Brook's novels and she has another winner here. It is a smart read and there is so much in Demon Night that is well done. And with Brook's books coming in at 50 to 100 pages longer than your typical paranormal romance, Brook has the space to take the time necessary to allow us to gain a deeper understanding of her characters as she develops the complicated and satisfying relationship between her leads. She is also able to explore the world that she has created for them more thoroughly than would be possible in a shorter book. Brook's world is an interesting one, one where good and evil are blurred and are sometimes a matter of perspective, some of the `good guys' have much to atone for and some of the `bad guys' are working for the greater good but use the ends to justify less than sterling means and her mythos which includes fallen angels, the demons, vampires and Guardians and demon prophecies hangs together well. Oh and lest I forget, Brook does steamy very well. In one of the hottest scenes in the book, both Charlie and Ethan are fully clothed and barely touch but wow!
So now I can hardly what to see what Brook dishes out next. She has Demon Unbound coming in November of 2008 and a short in the First Blood anthology out in August 2008. If you are new to the Guardian series, Demon Night works pretty well as a standalone read even though there are characters that appear here and events referenced from previous books. Brook does a pretty good job of briefly filling in some of the history but if you're a new Guardians reader, Brook's website has a page just for you, it's designed to get new readers up to speed on the world of the Guardians and what's gone before, the spoilers for previous books are minimal. If you are going back and starting at the beginning of the series, Brook has the reading order of the series starting with the short in "Falling for Anthony" from the Hotspell anthology as the first story though it falls chronologically in the middle of Demon Angel. Personally, I thought the short worked better when I reread it after Demon Angel because it was more fun having an idea of who all the characters were first and knowing a bit more about the world made the story make more sense than when I read it the first time.
My recommended reading order:
Demon Angel (The Guardians, Book 2) - Lilith and Hugh
Hot Spell "Falling for Anthony" - Colin's sister and Colin's transformation
Wild Thing "Paradise" - Selah and Lucas
Demon Moon (The Guardians, Book 4) - Colin and Savi
Demon Night (The Guardians, Book 5) - Drifter and Charlie