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The Bloodgate Guardian by Joely Sue Burkhart

June 9, 2010

Worlds within worlds await through the Maya Bloodgate…

Worlds within worlds await through the Maya Bloodgate…

Dr. Jaid Merritt doesn’t do digs. The last time she ventured into the jungle, someone died. Now she’s content to decipher Maya glyphs from pictures sent to her by her famous archaeologist father. But when he goes missing while trying to perform a ritual based on her translations of an ancient codex, Jaid must put aside her fears and travel to Guatemala to find him.

After misusing the Bloodgates to bring his twin brother back from the afterlife, the Maya priest known as Ruin was cursed by the gods to stand as the guardian for all time. He was unable to stop Dr. Charles Merritt from opening the gates, and now demons roam this world. The last thing he wants to do is hurt the beautiful woman who is somehow infused with his magic, but if she uses the codex to retrieve her father, Ruin must do his duty. And this time, he won’t fail. Even if it kills him. Again.

Full Disclosure: Joely is a friend of mine. We became friends through her work, which I’ve loved since my first read of hers. [Which was the Rose of Shanhasson by the way.] Also? I got this book for free. I get all of the books I review for free. Because I like free books and authors like free reviews. Its Standard Operating Procedure, ya’ll. I have not been coerced into or asked nicely about, or even lightly suggested to giving a rave review.

I’m giving one because I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK.

There are certain things I can just expect from her books as a reader. Strong Characters, Strong Relationships, Epic Romances,  and Sacrifice. (Sometimes with blood, sometimes with out. *g* )

The Bloodgate Guardian is no exception. And yeah, blood included.

I have a deep fascination with culture and mythology, and how mythology plays IN to culture.  And as you may have guessed from the blog’s tagline, I’m drawn to a sense of the “forbidden”, the “taboo”. How much more Taboo can you get than human sacrifice?

I wasn’t disappointed, though I’d long ago suspected I never would be with a Joely Sue Burkhart read.

Jaid really is the Un-Indiana Jones, as her students not so affectionately call her. She’s just a brilliant professor thrown into extraordinary circumstances and asked simply to survive them. What I liked about her character was that she never came across as being too mousy or too kick-ass. She was just Jaid. She did amazing things, mostly because of her brilliant mind, but she never came across as an amazon, or an athlete. Which wouldn’t have made sense since she’s self-professed geek who spent most of her time grading one-too-many papers and translating Glyphs for her obsessive and not quite as brilliant but still gifted Father.

She did extraordinary things while remaining ordinary. And by Ordinary I mean that she maintained the essence of her character.

And Ruin? Yum. I go especially swoon-ie for ethnic heroes. I still don’t get what the big deal over his name was, you know, because I’m weird, but I’m glad he got to keep it. It fit the character. I don’t like giving spoilers, but Ruin’s arc is extremely tragic and in overcoming that tragedy, extremely rewarding. I bawled my freakin eyes out over the heartache and suffering he had to go through for his HEA. He literally fought tooth and nail (and blood) for it. (Remember how I said I love sadistic authors? Joely makes those suckers EARN their endings. This usually means I have to keep kleenex close by. You’ve been thoroughly warned.)

I also bawled for Wrak and Butterfly Star. Two characters you’ll have to read TBG to meet and decide for yourselves how you feel about them.

If you’re easily scared, I would not recommend this book. Because dude? The Place of Fright, the Maya Underworld, is not just in name only. Joely pulled out all the stops. It’s pretty frickin’ creepy and badass all at the same time. I loved that she took it to such extremes, because dark fantasy is my genre-crack and I feel that TBG has more than a little touch of DF in it.

I also wouldn’t recommend if you’re kind of narrow minded, but I kind of suspect narrow minded people don’t flock to my blog. Joely is famous for INTENSE complex emotional relationships. That’s all I’m going to say because again, Spoilers aren’t allowed on my blog.

Usually I end up falling for a side character (or six where Joely books’ are concerned). In the first incarnation of this story, that was Quinn. Since Quinn’s getting his own book though? I guess I’d say Callie. And that’s weird because she was only on screen for like a page or two. But I felt for her, especially her situation.

Wrack and Butterfly Star hold a special place in my side-character-loving-heart too.

I also usually love the Antagonists in a “ooo, he/she/it’s so evvvviiilllll” sort of way.This time though, I was completely creeped out. Still semi-gleeful, cause my inner child is a sadist, but mostly creeped out. In a good way. Mayan Demons are not to be messed with, and that’s me being extremely PC.

Joely’s plots are usually complex enough that there are more than just one set of antagonists to choose from. As well as a nice dollop of Gray shades among minor and main characters. What can I say? I’m only happy when it’s complicated.

The experience was like watching a movie. Joely’s style is very visual and engaging and its so easy to lose your whole afternoon wrapped up in her books. Only, this book wasn’t just sound and fury for the sake of action and adventure. There’s substance underneath all the blood, and demons, and mushy stuff. And its what keeps this reader coming back.

Joely is currently working on the synopsis for Maya Book #2, which will hopefully feature Quinn. In order for her to sell it though, TBG has to do well first.

I want Maya Book #2, ya’ll. So if you were intrigued by what I’ve had to say about The Bloodgate Gaurdian, please stop on by Carina Press sometime next week after (or during) its release date, June 14th, and pick yourself up a copy. It’s set at a really nice price of $4.79. You can also get it from Amazon, Books on Board, All Romance E-Books, and B & N

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2010 11:20 pm

    Another AMAZING review.

    Yeah, Joely writes my kinda crack too *g* can’t wait to get my hands on this one!

    • Soleil Noir permalink*
      June 10, 2010 1:03 pm

      Thank you Sherri. 😀 I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

      You know, if it hadn’t’ve been for Joely, I may never have started reviewing books. I intitally did Rose of Shanhasson so that I could help beta-read the sequel. Then I got a few requests from the fine folks at Drollerie Press and been writing reviews ever since. *g* I’m still loving it.

      • June 11, 2010 1:46 pm

        You’re reviews are amzing…love reading them. So keep on, keeping on!

      • June 13, 2010 3:09 pm

        I gotta second Sherri, here. Your reviews are awesome. You don’t give spoilers, and yet the casual blog-reader still comes away with a full sense of the book you’ve read.

        And I, too, am a little biased when it comes to my beloved sister. Not because she’s my beloved sister, of course, but because she kicks ass. Every. Single. Time.

  2. June 14, 2010 7:39 am

    Soleil, thank you for such an awesome review! Hugs, you’re such an incredible reviewer – the details combined with your enjoyment and spark really sing.

    You guys are making me blush!!

    Joely

  3. Soleil Noir permalink*
    June 14, 2010 8:23 pm

    Molly- Thank you! Sometimes I wonder if I’m being too vague, so its nice to get some reassurance that I’m not. Also, totally agreed but you both kick ass! *g*

    Joely- I’m glad what I’m feeling comes through because I worry that my enjoyment can’t possibly be conveyed. Congrats on the release and here’s to many many sales so that we can all enjoy Maya Book #2 and all the other goodies you’ve got on your list of things to write. 😀

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