Desperate Choices, by Hildie McQueen
Crescent Moon Press, April 2012
When an Immortal demon slayer saves Rachel Andrews from certain death, her life changes forever. An unbreakable bond with the handsome Protector, drags her into a world she never believed existed and has no desire to be part of.
The actions of one night drastically alter the course of his long existence. Torn between his feelings for Rachel and his life’s calling, Roderick Cronan comes face to face with the fact that he is losing both.
Rachel Andrews’ mother warned her not to pick up hitchhikers. Also, there are such things as demons. Both occur to Rachel as she’s pulled bodily between the front seats of her car into the back. Not strong enough to fend off the monster sucking on her jugular, Rachel regrets not having stopped into talk to her mother. But just as she’s losing consciousness, the demon becomes a puff of blue smoke. Hovering above Rachel was a man she believed to be the Angel of Death.
When Rachel wakes up once more, she’s lying in a four-poster bed. She gets a second look at her angel. He’s naked, frustrated at having misplaced his shorts, and when his towel slips, she gets an eyeful. She blurts out her appreciation, alerting him to fact that she’s awake. He then explains to her that she was attacked by a demon, which he killed, and she’s been out for three days because she lost so much blood.
In Hildie McQueen’s Atlanta, there are Protectors and demons. Three castes of the latter, in fact, walking around looking very human and most up to no good. Roderick Cronan, like his Protector brothers-in-arms, was born human, but he suffered a change in his early twenties that subjected him to nightmares and a brutal growth spurt. As a result, he is a walking Greek statue–Spartan, in his case—beautiful, massive, and ageless. The Protectors are permitted marriage only by arrangement by the leader of their order, “The Roman” named Julian, and they are usually unable to father children. (And “usually” is important here.)
These men exist to stand between mankind and the threat of evil. Period.
Roderick is also a medical doctor; saving Rachel’s life is a no brainer for him. He is short on time and resources, so when she needs a blood transfusion, he doesn’t think twice about using his own. That’s when things get complicated for Rachel, Roderick, and Julian.
Desperate Choices is a charming and sexy lead-in to Hildie McQueen’s full-length novel Desperate Betrayal. The novella doesn’t waste much time on the demon scene in Atlanta, but instead focuses on Roderick’s relationships with Rachel, his roommate Cynden Fraser, and his boss, Julian. I felt that McQueen did a particularly good job with Julian, a tough-love type who is way more father than friend to the men who serve him. Julian knows when to keep his head, when to blow his cool, and never changes his mind once a decision is made because he doesn’t abide weakness. Roderick’s roommate, Cynden, is similarly rounded out as a Scot whose lost his brogue after centuries away from the Highlands. He’s in only a few scenes, but he’s got a lot of personality.
With three enigmatic male characters in this novella, it might seem difficult for a female to grab the spotlight, but Rachel’s a solid character and she holds her own.
Desperate Choices is Book 0.5 of The Protectors series. It is stand-alone; it doesn’t have to be read before Desperate Betrayal, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt as Rachel and Julian appear in both. It’s also a clean, smooth read that I was able to polish off while my husband watched Ferris Bueller. I would call The Protectors a paranormal romance series to watch closely. I would recommend it to fans of Lynn Rush’s Wasteland series, Jean Murray’s Soul Reborn, and to SyFy’s Lost Girl audience.