In the meantime, my blogging muse was kind enough to get me through this review! I think I've rambled here and there, but hopefully, you'll still enjoy the review! :)
Demon Marked by Meljean Brook
published by Berkley in September 2011
Nicholas St. Croix is familiar with the evil of demons. After his father’s death, a demon took over his mother’s body and raised him. Six years ago, his “mother” was responsible for the disappearance of the woman he loved, and Nicholas swore he’d find her—even if he had to go to Hell and back. Except she finds him first—and with one tormented kiss, he knows she too is a demon. Now he is determined to take his revenge…Genre: Paranormal romance
Ash is a half-demon with no memory of her past or how she got to Hell. All she knows is that Nicholas St. Croix holds the key to her identity. And though he’s clearly drawn to her, Nicholas makes no secret of his distrust of her. Yet one kiss at a time, he breaks down her defenses as they battle an array of demons and Guardians. But is Ash’s greatest enemy the man at her side?
Series: The Guardians, Book #7
The Story: After three years spent in stupor after someone left her at Nightingale House, Ash finally awakens. With no inkling of who or what she is, Ash's only clue is her physical appearance: she looks exactly like Rachel Boyle (plus some extra vermilion tattoos) who disappeared six years ago. Yet, Ash is certain she is not Rachel. Hoping to find some answers, Ash digs deeper in Rachel's life... which leads her directly to Nicholas St. Croix.
Nicholas St. Croix has only one purpose in life: find the demon that impersonated his mother Madelyn all these years, who ruined his family and his life, and seek revenge. When he first sees Ash, Nicholas is sure it's Madelyn back to torment him by impersonating Rachel... because even after 6 years, Nicholas still feel guilty over Rachel's disappearance. Back then, Nicholas had come back to England to overtake Madelyn's company and wooed her personal assistant, Rachel. While Nicholas didn't love Rachel, who wouldn't feel guilty when the woman you used jumped in front of you to stop a bullet and then disappeared out of thin air? Then, Nicholas quickly figures out that Ash is not Madelyn or Rachel... but she's still a demon. A demon that he can use for bait, as he is sure Madelyn will be back for Ash. However, it means keeping Ash alive and safe from the Guardians... And the more Nicholas spends time with Ash, the more attracted he is to her... but is this Ash real or is it a front to lull him?
My Opinion: I've really been looking forward to this book, as you've probably figured out by my hunt for it LOL. Well, it's just been a loooong time since the last book, Demon Blood, was released in July 2010. That's more than a year folks! In any case, I'm glad to tell you that Demon Marked delivers and the wait was not for naught :P
Nicholas was introduced to us in Demon Blood and I really liked him in that book. Yes, yes, he was a jerk... but in his defense, he was an interesting jerk :P And seriously, he had reasons for being a jerk :) Once I got to know him better in Demon Marked, I liked him even more. There's still this coldness on the surface and he can still be a major, self-serving jerk and really who can blame him given his background story? But there's also a lot more than meet the eyes. First and foremost, the guy is a survivor. He's also determined and focused... and he definitively feels a lot even though he doesn't show it. Guilt and loyalty - and that was surprising :) He's also smart and I liked how his mind worked and his plans. I liked that he wasn't too stubborn either and once he came to care for Ash, he really did. It took him a while to overlook the demon part, but again, can't blame him. But he overcame it and on its own!! Without anyone having to bang his head :) I think it says a lot, especially given everyone's perception of Nicholas as a cold bastard.
I also loved Ash in this book. I thought she was a great heroine. I love how in the beginning, she was not feeling anything and little by little, it came back to her. Actually, it's funny, but I think Ash is how most Psy from Nalini Singh's Psy-Changelings series should be. LOL. Another great aspect of Ash was her forwardness and it gave for some really good dialogues and LOL moments. She's also highly intelligent which is a good thing in a demon :) Loved the parts where she was trying to figure out Nicholas and was able to understand him by what he gave away and what he did not. I also think Ms Brook did a great job at distinguishing Rachel and Ash. The fact that Ash wasn't into pleasing everyone, that most of the time, she didn't care what others thought... it gave her more confidence, more charisma I think.
With two very interesting characters, you get a very nice couple. I thought that Ash and Nicholas really fit each other well and most importantly, understood each other. Ash and Nicholas definitively had chemistry, the attraction pretty much sizzling :) Especially Ash attempts at seeing Nicholas naked LOL. However, what makes the romance works so good is Ash. The way she understood Nicholas, the fact that she was aware of his motives for keeping her by his sides... Even when she followed the Guardians, yes she was hurt by the truth, but she let it go, focused on what was important - Nicholas current feelings for her, not what was. LOL, I guess it's Ash not being so emotional that made this romance works so well and stands out :)
As usual, the storyline of Demon Marked is complex but it works. I kept wanting to know what would come next :P Ms Brook does a good job at balancing the plot, the romance and the characters development. I like the fact that we knew Ash was a halfling and so we knew more about Ash then the characters themselves and were able to pick up clues here and there :) I was also really looking forward to Ash and Lilith meeting and that scene definitively did not disappoint!! Oh and I loved the role that Lilith had in Demon Marked. Ms Brook does a great job at not giving her past characters too much page-time. They only appear if necessary which, kudos to Ms Brook. In any case, Lilith being an ex-halfling, her appearance in Demon Marked was definitively justified :) And she's still as kick-ass as ever LOL. Okay, enough fangirl-ish moment :) Back to the storyline, the one involving Ash and Nicholas was interesting and there were a few interesting twist at the end. I definitively did not expect that. But the overall story-arc is also progressing well. I even read all the tidbits with Taylor and Michael!
My only disappointment with Demon Marked was that the book was a bit short. Ms Brook has accustomed us to thick books and quite frankly, it was kind of shock when I picked up Demon Marked. Oh, I'm not saying the storyline suffered because of the length, because it did not. However, I can't help but wish Demon Marked has been a bit longer and perhaps some parts could have been expanded a little bit. As it is, I would say the ending of Demon Marked was a bit rushed; however, as I said, it didn't take anything away from the storyline. It was still very exciting to read and very surprising :)
My Grade: B+. Demon Marked was definitively a great addition to the series. I simply devoured the book once I got my hands on it :) Loved Ash and Nicholas, loved seeing Lilith and Hugh again :) I'm a bit sad to see this series ending... and I don't know how I feel about Michael's book - he's not my favorite character. However, I'm still looking forward to it, because I'm sure Ms Brook has a lot of surprises in store for us :)