After over four hundred years as a Guardian, Durk Langdon rebuked it all. Walked away from everything when his mate, Jessica, was brutally murdered. Yet he has no recollection of anything since that gruesome day.
Nothing alleviates his longing for Jessica or his disdain for the Guardians until a former brother in arms joins him and his cause. Visions of his lost love start appearing in the most unlikely places, until Durk learns she survived.
But when he sets out to find her, demonic obstacles he never could have imagined tear them apart.
If only he had trusted her…
Tainted brings us into the Wasteland storyline at some point after Durk Langdon abandons his calling. He is running, barefoot and half-naked, down a lonely highway. There’s no one behind him. He doesn’t know what he’s running from, but he knows that if he stops, he’ll die. Meanwhile images of Jessica, his murdered mate, flash through his mind. He hides when a car approaches. It stops and a woman gets out. She knows his name, but he doesn’t know her.
Ms. Rush drops the reader into Durk’s confusion at both the passage of time and reality in the opening scene. There is a sense that time has passed since the end of Awaited (Wasteland #2), but there are few clues as to how much. He remembers being in the mountains, but now he’s in the desert. Starting the story here was a deliberate, and wise, choice by the author because this confusion—not knowing what is real or who can be trusted—continues for half of the story. In fact, I was not certain that Durk was free of the torment that wiped his memory clean until the last two chapters.
Anyone who’s read the first two books of the Wasteland trilogy knows that Ms. Rush juggles her details with the deft hand of a circus clown. All three of her male leads have been flawed, damaged men, but Durk Langdon is all but an empty shell. He was going through the motions of serving the Light before he watched the woman he loves die. Combine his broken heart with lost time and severe torture, and Durk becomes a man who’s hanging onto one fraying thread while wondering why he still bothers.
While I felt that Durk’s part of the story was very well done, I have to admit that his and Jessica’s relationship felt a little thin for me. They are supposed to be intended mates, and Jessica has known this for thirty-five years. Durk has been in love with her for decades. Yet, I found timidity where I expected sexual tension.
It was great to see David and Beka, and Russell and Annabel, again, especially under the dire circumstances they face. And the guest appearance by archangel Michael is rave worthy. All in all, I found Tainted to be a solid finish to the series.