Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: Hard Breaker by Christine Warren

Posted October 29, 2017 by Minx

Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: Hard Breaker by Christine Warren

This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.

Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: Hard Breaker by Christine Warren Hard Breaker by Christine Warren
Series: Gargoyles #6
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC, E-book
Source: NetGalley
Pages: 336
ISBN: 1250077397
ASIN: B06Y5F2HXV
Purchase at: Amazon Barnes & Noble Book Depository Google Play Kobo IndieBound Books-A-Million
Minx's Rating:
Heat Factor:three-flames

From New York Times bestselling author Christine Warren comes Hard Breaker, the sixth book in her Gargoyles series where even the most beastly gargoyle is able to win the heart of a beautiful human female.

Ivy Beckett 's gift feels more like a curse. She can hear things happening in distant locations, which is how she knows the very instant her family is killed by servants of the Darkness. Furious, she joins the fight to save the world – but the losses are mounting up. She thinks only a miracle can save them—but she doesn't expect the miracle to come in the form of a handsome gargoyle.

Baen is a fearsome Guardian, but when he awakes, even his surprised by war that is going on. But what’s even more distracting is beautiful Ivy. Driven by passion, she’s ready to charge head-first into battle. But Baen’s primal instincts to protect what’s his rise within him, and Ivy is dangerously attracted to him. Can she and her gargoyle warrior save the world…and fall in love?

“Soars with fun, witty characters and nonstop action.” --Publishers Weekly on Stone Cold Lover

Don't miss the other books in the Gargoyle series:

Book #1: Heart of Stone
Book #2: Stone Cold Lover
Book #3: Hard as a Rock
Book #4: Rocked by Love
Book #5: Hard to Handle

Goodreads

Review:

In the beginning, there was the Light and the Darkness. Over time the Darkness shaped itself into the form of Seven Demons who were bent on the destruction of humanity and bringing the world to its knees. The Light created the Guardians who could be called upon in times of trouble and the Wardens who would communicate and awaken the guardians. For centuries, the Guardians would rise and destroy the Darkness and then they would slumber but after some time the Guardians were failing to rise when called upon and this failure to respond combined with more strategic attacks from the minions of the Darkness led to many Wardens being wiped out and several of the Demons who had been bound to be set free.

It was this war that Ivy Beckett found herself smack in the middle of. Ivy was born with an unusual gift called clairaudience where she can hear conversations happening in any part of the world at any given time, what she can’t do is control when she hears these conversations or contribute in any way. She was a passive participant. Ivy also happened to come from a long line of wardens. As such, she was familiar with the whole fight against the darkness, so when she hears a conversation between two family members who were trying to wake a guardian but then were brutally slain she knows who was responsible. It was this loss that brought Ivy to England to become a participant in an underground railroad of sorts to ferry wardens in hiding somewhere in France where they could meet up with other Wardens and keep on fighting the good fight.

On one such mission, Ivy and the Warden under her care were tracked and attacked. While fending off the attacking lower ranking demons Ivy was nothing short of amazed when a living guardian showed up and quickly dispatched the offending demons. What shocked Ivy more than there being a guardian in front of her was that no one had summoned the Guardian to the fight. Guardians were only supposed to come when they were summoned. This plus a whole another slew of misconceptions was something that Ivy was going to need to fight through in order get a grip on the new reality that was in front of her.

Baen was a guardian that had been asleep for centuries and when he was first awakened, he was not quite clear on who had summoned him. He thought that either Ivy or her charge had performed the summoning and he did what he was made to do, kill the demons then ask questions later. It was quickly clear to him that neither of the humans in front of him had summoned him. It took him a few minutes but he figured whatever had awakened him was a moot point when his Warden was in front of him. His Warden being Ivy who was to the best of her knowledge not a Warden and had no schooling or training that would qualify her as such. Despite coming from a family tree lined with Wardens she had never been approached about any latent powers, but Baen knew what he saw and it was Ivy who had the greatest powers and it was she he chose as his Warden.

Ivy was stunned but before she really had a chance to think the situation through they were on the run and being attacked at every turn by demons or their minions. As they made their way across Europe in order to meet up with the person responsible for the movements of Wardens, Ivy and Been are besieged by trap after trap. Despite the threat of death at every turn Baen and Ivy were not able to fight the growing attraction that was building between them. Although Ivy may have given in to the attraction she was not committed to anything more with Baen than doing what felt right in the moment. Baen on the other hand knew what Ivy was meant to be for him and was going to do whatever it took to convince her of such. When they finally made it to Europe the information that they were met with was shocking. With less resources then they had ever anticipated, they were going have the fight of their lives on their hands when all comes crashing down and they are running against the clock in an effort to save humanity and themselves.

Hard Breaker  is the sixth book in the Gargoyles series and was nothing short of action-packed, sensual, and a humorous story all rolled up into a delicious package. I seriously love the writing style of Author Christine Warren! OMG, the witty remarks from the main character Ivy had me laughing out loud!! This is the first book I have read of hers but if Hard Breaker is any indication of how her books are usually written then I might start a club with jackets and everything. I can fan-girl with the best of them. Overall, I enjoyed this story from start to finish and it was a FUN read!

*Thank you to Netgalley & St. Martin’s Press for this eARC of Hard Breaker*


Chapter 2 Excerpt from Hard Breaker:

Ivy felt a surge of satisfaction. Well, adrenaline, really, but whatever.

“Perfect.” She got to her feet and pitched her voice back to where it could just be overheard— significantly louder, but still natural. Also, a bit wheedling. “Let’s get out of here, Marty. You promised me dinner in a proper restaurant, not a pub, and I’m abso famished.”

Martin r ose awkwardly, sending their glasses to wobbling again. “Lead on, then, darling. Wherever you like.”

She forced a giggle. She hated to giggle. “Oh, you’re such a pudding. But now I’ve got to decide. Hm, Judy told me about this café . . .”

Her mouth continued to babble, spewing nonsense she pulled off the top of her head as she led the way through the crowd— steering well clear of Teddy and his mates— and out the front door. Turning onto the pavement, she kept up the patter until they had stepped well away from the pub en route to the tube station. Even then, though she let the inane drivel dry up, she continued to clasp Martin’s hand in hers and lean into him. They  hadn’t been the only ones to leave the pub and the streets continued to bustle with both vehicular and pedestrian traffic. It was important to keep up appearances all the way through this journey.

“Okay, stage two,” she said softly as they strode toward the Underground station. “I have a bag at Left Luggage in King’s Cross that  we’ll need to pick up. It has more information you’ll need to look over for your time with Paul, some snacks, and cash and new identification for you hidden in the lining. I’ll show you where.  We’re on the last train to night, but we should have plenty of time to make it, so don’t worry about that.”

He nodded, but his gaze was glued to the pavement in front of them. Poor guy really didn’t have the right temperament for all this cloak- and- dagger stuff. But then again, she  hadn’t thought she did,  either, and look at her now— practically an expert, and armed on top of it.

Under her anorak and tight jeans, a custom- made dagger rode in a sheath at the small of her back. And oddly enough, she knew how to use it. Over the last several months, she  hadn’t had much choice but to learn,  until  these days, it felt so comfortable, she almost forgot it was  there.

Until moments like this, that is, when the hair on the back of her neck began to stand up and her senses put her on high alert.

“Bollocks,” she muttered. Faking another giggle, she turned playfully into Martin’s side and pretended to bury her face in his shoulder. In reality, she used the opportunity to take a look at the area behind them. She had felt confident that  there had been no nocturnis in the pub with them who might try to follow, but she should have paid a bit more attention to Teddy and his band of happy hooligans. Three of them had exited the bar  after Ivy and Martin and now trailed sixty or seventy feet behind them.

Normally, Ivy would have considered such an event no more than a slight bother, but something about their posture niggled at the back of her mind. The aggression she would have expected, but for some reason their stance struck her as more menacing than it ought to be.

Damn it, they  didn’t have time for this shit. Or even if they did, Ivy just  didn’t have the patience. Even worse, she knew they  were coming up on the narrow cross street they would have to traverse to get to the tube. S he’d researched the route. The cross street was largely home to a few small businesses that would have closed down by six  o’clock, a  couple of daytime shops, at least one vacant building, and a church that had been abandoned a few years ago due to lack of funds available to repair a roof with more holes than tiles remaining. It was a quiet block, and quiet meant fewer  people, which meant more opportunity for Teddy et al to try something stupid.

“What’s wrong?” Martin asked nervously as she turned back and casually picked up the pace of their walk. “What’s the matter? Is it nocturnis? Have they found me?”

The last question emerged on a squeak, and Ivy winced. She laughed loudly to cover up his blunder. “Oh, you!” she cried, then lowered her voice. “No, Martin. And you need to stay calm. How about you tell me more about yourself? What’s your main talent? I  don’t think you told me that.”

By talent, she was referring to the magical ability that made up the most basic requirement of becoming a Warden. All members of the Guild needed to possess a talent— demonstrate the ability to wield magic—in order to be considered for admission. With luck, Martin’s would have some utility in a fight.

“What? Talent? Oh, er, I’m a dowser. Water dowser. Why?”

Oh, yeah,  because a nice, deep aquifer was just what they needed right now.

“No reason,” she gritted out, fingers itching for the hilt of her knife. “No reason at all.”

Which was when she glanced over her shoulder and saw a dark shadow coalesce around Teddy and his friends. A shadow that swirled and twisted and then seemed to dis appear. Inside the three men.

Shit.

“What is it? What’s wrong.”

There went the panic again, creeping back into Martin’s voice at the least opportune of moments. Impatient, Ivy shook her head and urged him to walk a  little faster. Not that it was likely to do them much good. “Nothing. Let’s just concentrate on getting to the station, shall we?”

She could hear her accent beginning to fray at the edges, her natural American pronunciation creeping in  here and  there, but right now that counted as the least of their worries. Much higher on the list was the fact that they  were being followed down a now deserted street by three large, loutish men who  hadn’t liked her to begin with and who now appeared to have fallen  under demonic influence if not outright possession.

You know, one of  these days one of her plans was  going to have to go utterly smoothly, right? Just the law of large numbers made it inevitable,  didn’t it? Well,  today would have been a  really good day for that to happen.

Instinct had her increasing her pace yet again  until she found herself half a step from jogging down the pavement, tugging Martin along by her side.

“Hang on, then,” he protested, pulling against her grip and trying to actually slow her pace. The idiot. “If nothing’s wrong, why are you suddenly running?”

“I think that’s down to us, mate,” a voice snarled, closer  behind them than it should have been. Their pursuers had moved fast, faster than normal.

Faster than was natural.

An instant  later, something hit Ivy from the side, hard. The impact sent her staggering into the alley that opened up between two buildings at the side of the street. She stumbled into heavy darkness, away from the abandoned Gothic church across the way, away from the sight of anyone else who might wander onto the nearby pavement. To her credit, though, she managed to maintain her grip on Martin in spite of that, so she pulled him into the shadows beside her.

Perfect. Now they could be in deep shit together.

The hit had come as a surprise, but the three shapes rapidly closing in  behind her, driving her and Martin deeper into the alley, did not. Ivy’s hand had moved at the first moment of contact with her attacker, fing ers closing around the hilt of her dagger and tugging it out of concealment in a smooth, practiced motion. Now, she held it in front of her as she used her grip on her companion to swing him out of the way b ehind her, placing him between her and the brick building wall.

“Ooh,  you’ve brought along a toy, have you?” Teddy asked, grinning as he stalked forward, herding them away from the street and the potential of being seen by passersby. “Want to play, then, do you, luvie? I like a good game now and then.”

Ivy flicked her gaze among the three looming figures. She recognized all of them from the group gathered around the bar earlier, the ones who had witnessed Teddy hitting on her and her subsequent rejection of him. They had laughed at the time and gone right back to drinking, already half- pissed when the w hole thing began. Was it  too much for her to hope that she had been mistaken? That this was just a garden- variety assault and maybe potential rape fueled by alcohol and wounded machismo?  Because frankly, that would be a relief compared to the alternative.

“Yeh, we like to play,” the second lad hissed as he stepped forward  until Ivy could see his face in the dim light of the alleyway. “We especially like to play with his sort.” He bared his teeth, and his eyes lit up with malice.

And Ivy didn’t mean that metaphorically. His eyes actually lit up. As in, started glowing. With a sick, rusty- red light that reminded her of old blood and dried scabs.

Very attractive.

And very much indicative of demonic influence.

Yay. S he’d been right. It wasn’t really her  these  three  were after. They wanted Martin. They wanted the  Warden.

Well, they  weren’t  going to get him. Not until they got past her.

“I’m ready to go, boys.” She took a step forward and flashed a toothy smile of her own. “And you know the rules. White makes the first move.”

Ivy struck with a feint  toward Teddy, who stood closest to her, directly ahead. When instinct had him leaping back out of the way of her blade, she spun backward

to her left and landed a heel- first kick directly to the sternum of hissy boy. He grunted and stumbled back in surprise, but bachelor number three was already on the move. He closed in on Ivy from the left and grabbed her around her upper body, effectively pinning her biceps to her sides. She’d been expecting the move and countered by thrusting the dagger in a short, upward dig that buried it deep in number three’s thigh.

“Go, Martin!” she shouted above Three’s scream. “Get to the station! Lost Luggage under your name! Now!

All of her attackers howled in protest. Three’s cry was still tinged with pain. It gave her a warm surge of satisfaction, even though it rendered her nearly deaf in her left ear, the one closest to his mouth. Jerking the knife back, she freed it from the man’s leg and went limp in his grip, relaxing her muscles until she slid straight

out of his arms to the floor of the alley.

Even as she hit the cobbles, she was already moving. She braced one hand, shifted her weight, and swung one leg around, aiming a heavy kick at the knee of the grabby Three’s wounded leg. He crumpled with a heavy grunt.

Teddy and number two rushed in to take his place, converging on Ivy before she could manage a glimpse to see if Martin had followed her directions. If he h adn’t, he was  either dumber than he looked, or part possum and his nervous system had shut down from fear. Neither option would keep him alive, though, and as skilled as she had become in hand- to- hand combat a fter her years of self- defense classes back in New York and her training since taking on her rescue work in  England, one  human  woman against three demonically influenced men  didn’t offer her very good odds.

Chances  were she  wouldn’t leave this alley  under her own power. Hell,  she’d be lucky if she  didn’t leave it in a coroner’s van. Which meant Martin had better be halfway down the steps to the tube already.

She ducked away from a swipe of Teddy’s outstretched hand, trying not to get distracted by the way the skin of his fingertips had split to allow the emergence of glistening black claws that dripped some sort of dark, stinking fluid. The smell of decayed flesh and filthy swamp  water suddenly filled the alley, and Ivy had to fight back the urge to gag.

Oh, yeah. She’d say this officially went beyond the realm of demonic influence. Hell, this went beyond possession. Somehow, demons had not just taken over  these men’s’ bodies, they had used the energy of the  human bodies to allow them to fully manifest into the  human world.

In case anyone wondered, that was a really,  really bad  thing. Something Ivy  wouldn’t have thought pos si ble six months ago.

But then again, six months ago, the world  hadn’t quite started coming to an end yet.  Today, anything was  pos si ble.

With that cheery thought filling her mind, she swung her dagger in a wide arc that managed to catch opponent number two in the side, opening up a wound that audibly sizzled and began to ooze something much darker and slimier than blood. It  didn’t smell like blood,  either. The ichor reeked of the same foulness that hung around the venom dripping from Teddy’s claws.

Seriously, it was becoming a real challenge not to puke. What she wouldn’t give for a nice, stiff breeze right about then to dissipate some of the stink.

Two— Thing Two, Ivy decided to call him— hissed, his corrupt red gaze flicking between her and her blade with manic hatred. It made her smile in spite of the nausea.

“What’s the  matter, pumpkin?” she taunted him. “ Aren’t you a fan of blessed and consecrated silver? Me, I just adore the stuff.”

She demonstrated  those feelings with another quick slash of her arm, a motion that sliced through the jacket and shirt Teddy wore and into the flesh of his shoulder. She  wasn’t particularly aiming for the brachial plexus nerve or a major artery, but she  wasn’t going to cry if he started to bleed out or lost the use of his arm.

He screamed, but Ivy just continued her stroke and caught  Thing Two across the cheek, just millimeters away from his left eye. Hm, close call, that. What a shame.

“Bitch!” the demon howled.

Ivy blew him a kiss. “Aw, love you, too, snookums.”

Her  mother had always told her that her smart mouth would get her into trouble one day. Somehow Ivy  didn’t think this par tic u lar trouble was what s he’d had in mind. You know, the  whole “ripped apart by demons in a deserted alley” thing. Dorothy probably h adn’t seen that one coming.

One would hope.

By now, Thing Three was back on his feet, and Ivy knew she was seriously fucked. Three against one. Three demons against one, with no backup on the way. Working alone was one of the keys to protecting the Wardens  people like her assisted. Now, it looked like she was  going to die alone.

“Sorry,  Uncle George,” she muttered, putting her back to the alley wall and keeping her gaze on the man- shaped creatures in front of her. They had realized her predicament just as clearly as she had, and now they  were toying with her, watching her with evil, hungry gazes. Not the kind of hunger that would scare most  women alone in an alley, but the kind of hunger that scared American turkeys in the  middle of November.

“Sorry, Jamie,” Ivy added. “But on the bright side, looks like I’ll be seeing you both again soon.”

Thing Two snapped its jaws at her, jaws that it then unhinged to make room for the second row of pointed teeth that appeared to be growing  behind the first,  human set.

“Very, very soon.”

Holding her dagger in front of her and carefully balancing her weight on the balls of her feet, Ivy prepared to die fighting.

Oddly enough, that’s not what happened.

One minute, she stared down the face of the Grim Reaper and the next, reality went sideways. Instead of the front of three demons clearly prepared to feast on her living flesh, she felt a rush of cool air, heard a pavement- shaking roar, and found herself staring into a wide barrier the color of dark, aged granite.

She blinked, then shook her head and blinked again. The view didn’t change. Gradually her brain caught up with her corneas, and she realized that what had looked like a barrier of solid stone was actually a pair of wings. Huge wings, each easily twelve or thirteen feet from base to tip, leathery and membranous like a bat’s.

And they  were attached to the broadest, most muscular back she had ever seen. A back that could only conceivably belong to one of two things:

A dragon.

Or a Guardian.

Copyright © 2017 by Christine Warren and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

Enter to Win! This giveaway ends on November 07, 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Christine Warren

Author Christine Warren

CHRISTINE WARREN is the author of Stone Cold Lover and Heart of Stone, as well as the Novels of the Others, including New York Times Bestsellers Big Bad Wolf, Walk on the Wild Side, and One Bite with a Stranger. Born and raised in coastal New England, Christine Warren now lives as a transplant in the Pacific Northwest. When not writing (as if that ever happens), she enjoys horseback riding, playing with her pets, identifying dogs from photos of their underbellies, and most of all reading things someone else had to agonize over.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Comments?.....I would love to hear from you.....♥️