I don’t pretend to be an expert on Urban Fantasy…I’ve barely even scratched the surface when it comes to the genre. So when Jackie asked me if I wanted to read and review Zoe Archer’s Warrior, the first in her The Blades of the Rose series, I was excited to continue the exploration of my newfound love of UF. Unfortunately, I ended up with extremely missed feelings about Warrior.
The vicious attack Capt. Gabriel Huntley witnesses in a dark alley sparks a chain of events that will take him to the ends of the Earth and beyond – where what is real and what is imagined become terribly confused. And frankly, Huntley couldn’t be more pleased. Intrigue, danger, and a beautiful woman in distress – just what he needs. Raised thousands of miles from England, Thalia Burgess is no typical Victorian lady. A good thing, because a proper lady would have no hope of recovering the priceless magical artefact Thalia is after. Huntley’s assistance might come in handy, though she has to keep him in the dark. But this distractingly handsome soldier isn’t easy to deceive…
Warrior, took me an extremely long time to get into. Despite the fact that the first chapter has some decent action, it really did nothing for me. The book starts with Captain Gabriel Huntley getting off a boat, having just spent many years in the English military. He’s finally returned home and is going to work a normal job and find himself a wife. Less than thrilled about this prospect he immediately makes some choices that end up leading him on an adventure to Mongolia where he meets the book’s other main character Thalia Burgess.
Thalia was born in England and has spent most of her life if Mongolia with her father and her servant/friend Batu. Her mother died when she was a young girl, so she was brought up by her father and is not your typical English girl. She’s not offended by crass language, is a talented archer and has wanted to be apart of The Blades of Rose as long as she can remember. So when Gabriel lands on her doorstep with a cryptic message, Thalia is thrilled to finally have a chance to prove herself to The Blades. Thus begins a grand journey for Thalia, Batu and Gabriel (who is unwelcome, but determined to help).
For the most part, Warrior switches every other chapter from Gabriel to Thalia’s point of view. Though once in awhile you’d get a glimpse into the mind of one of The Heirs. The Heirs, a British group comprised of first born men, are the adversaries of The Blades of Rose. The Blades of Rose fight to protect and keep sources of magic with their rightful owners, returning them and defending them whenever needed. The Heirs, on the other hand, seek to obtain as many sources as they can, hoping to one day be the most powerful people in the world.
While I did find the plot to be very slow in the beginning and even a little lagging in the middle, I have zero complaint about the chemistry between the characters. Gabriel and Thalia are most definitely a perfect fit for each other. Having been in the military so long, Gabriel has forgotten how to speak like a gentleman, which doesn’t bother Thalia in the slightest. Thalia is more brazen and less delicate than the average English woman, which suites Gabriel perfectly. Plus, both have a love of adventure and a passion for doing what’s right. It also goes without saying that the sexual chemistry between them simmers from the instant they meet.
Now on the other hand, there is Thalia’s servant/friend Batu. They have an extremely close relationship and it is obvious that both care for the other greatly. Batu is fiercely protective of Thalia as is Thalia of him; both are willing to give their life for the other. I really enjoyed this relationship and how it caused some bristling between Batu and Gabriel. It made for a interesting dynamic between the 3 of them.
For the most part, the only characters we get to know in the book are Gabriel, Thalia and Batu. However, we do meet two of The Heirs – Henry Lamb and Jonas Edgewater. Both are extremely horrible men that have terrifying plans for Thalia and the rest of the group. The few glimpses we get into their heads are downright scary. It doesn’t take much to imagine what the world would be like if The Heirs were to gain the power they want so badly.
My biggest complaint about Warrior is that sex is used as a catalyst to discover the answer to a huge plot point in the book. Now I love a great romance and some steamy sex scenes, but I find it ridiculous to use sex as a means for the characters to realize something other than their feelings for each other. It comes across as a cheap ploy and a lame excuse to throw in sex between the main characters. Had this scene been skipped or been just left as a simple sex scene, the story would have been much better off. I’m sorry if what I’m saying comes off as harsh, but this really bothered me. The book was really starting to grow on me until this point, but my enjoyment took a nosedive when this happened.
Other than the slow start and my sex scene complaint, I have to say Zoe Archer’s Warrior turned out to be decent. There were definitely some great action packed parts and little hints as to what’s to come in Archer’s The Blades of the Rose series. We get a small introduction to a few of The Blades and some name dropping of characters that will be showing up in later books. I found it to be just enough to get me interested in the second book, Scoundrel, despite my problems with the first installment in the series. Fingers crossed that the few mistakes that Archer made in Warrior get corrected in book two, otherwise I might just have to call it quits on a series that definitely has a lot of potential.