Heart of Stone

( 62 )

Overview

From bestselling author Christine Warren comes a thrilling new series about

a young woman caught between a rock and a hard place—between gargoyles and demons…

Ella Harrow is trying to carve out a normal life for herself. Well, as normal as an art geek with psychic abilities can hope for. As museum docent and gift-shop manager, Ella is able to keep her distance from people—and her powers in check—while surrounding herself with the artifacts she ...

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Heart of Stone

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Overview

From bestselling author Christine Warren comes a thrilling new series about

a young woman caught between a rock and a hard place—between gargoyles and demons…

Ella Harrow is trying to carve out a normal life for herself. Well, as normal as an art geek with psychic abilities can hope for. As museum docent and gift-shop manager, Ella is able to keep her distance from people—and her powers in check—while surrounding herself with the artifacts she loves. But how on earth is she supposed to act normal when a thousand-year-old statue on the museum’s terrace suddenly comes to life?

HEART OF STONE

Not your ordinary gargoyle, Kees has been asleep for eons, waiting for a portent of evil to wake him from his slumber. Kees isn’t a vision; he’s a bat-winged guardian created to protect the world from the seven demons of the Dark. Somehow, Ella triggered his reawakening. Maybe the demons have been unleashed? Maybe his heart is finally ready to be chiseled open? The fate of the world isn’t carved in stone… yet.

“Warren takes readers for a wild ride.”

Night Owl Romance (on The Others series)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/25/2013
Warren (Hungry Like a Wolf) launches a series with this solid paranormal romance. After museum docent Ella Harrow is accosted by a sleazy philanthropist, she teasingly chides a grotesque gargoyle statue for not protecting her. It springs to life, startling them both. Kees, a member of the Guild of Wardens, is puzzled to be woken from his magical slumber by a human with untrained magical abilities. Ella is drawn to Kees’s gorgeous new form as he explains the danger of the seven demons of the Dark, but problems quickly overshadow lust: the police search for the missing statue, Kees encounters dead ends in finding his team, and inexplicable events foreshadow encroaching evil. The sexual attraction between Kees and Ella is palpable, and readers will love watching the logical Kees fight the concept of emotions as Ella blossoms from a guilt-laden hermit into a gutsy heroine. Despite some repetition, this is a clever, wry tale that bodes well for future installments. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"A clever, wry tale that bodes well for future installments." —-Publishers Weekly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250012654
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 12/31/2013
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 93,062
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

CHRISTINE WARREN is the author of 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. She has been assimilated by Twitter (as @ChrstineWarren) and Facebook, where you can follow her thoughts and witness her being ridiculous firsthand, and she always enjoys hearing from readers via email sent to Christine@ChristineWarren.net.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

 

 

Ella Harrow fully supported the notion that people with excessive amounts of money should donate large sums of it to worthy causes, and she counted her employer—the Vancouver Museum of Art and History—as among the worthiest. She just wished the donors would hand over the cash without wanting to talk to her first.

Five minutes after the last guest of the Friday evening fund-raising gala had exited the front doors of Georgia House, the historic building that housed the main museum gallery, Ella gave in to the pressure she’d felt building all through the evening. She rolled her eyes, blew a raspberry, and thumbed her nose simultaneously. It was childish of her, but satisfying.

Béatrice Boucher, the only other staff member still present, said, “Now, Ella, tell me how you really feel about these little events.”

Ella shot her boss a narrow-eyed glare. “They’re my favorites, Bea. Really.”

Drinking wine and nibbling canapés might not sound like a year in a Stalinist gulag, but having to do it in the midst of five hundred elegantly dressed strangers while maintaining a polite smile in the face of their inane conversations and pretending to laugh at their lame jokes ranked even worse in Ella’s mind. She’d rather volunteer for the hard labor.

“I never would have guessed,” Bea said, locking the heavy antique entrance doors. After rattling the knobs once to check the bolts, she turned to Ella and waved her hands in a shooing motion. “Fly. Be free. You’ve done your penance for this fiscal quarter. I’ll hustle the caterers out through the kitchens and lock up that side. You can sneak out the garden gate the way you usually do and lock the terrace doors on your way out.”

“You sure?”

“Don’t look a gift horse, mon amie. Run while you can, before I come up with some new programs to spend all those lovely donations on and put you back to work.”

“I’m already halfway home.”

Ella listened to her friend and colleague’s laughter follow her through the hall and into the historic mansion’s stately ballroom, which now housed an impressive collection of paintings, antique furniture, and historic objets d’art. She’d worked for the assistant curator for more than two years now, and Bea knew her well enough to understand that when Ella said she hated crowds and that making small talk with strangers gave her hives, she wasn’t kidding.

She scratched absently at her arms beneath her embellished cardigan—her halfhearted nod to the event’s formal dress code—and stepped out into the crisp night air. Pausing on the paving stones, she took a moment to savor the silence. The solitude. For the first time in hours, her nerves began to unwind.

For some people, Ella knew, shyness made interacting with strangers an uncomfortable and embarrassing experience, but Ella wasn’t shy; she was terrified. Crowds scared her—more than spiders, more than the threat of global war, more than the boogeyman.

With people all around her, she could never predict what might happen, and the constant tension of holding on to her self-control made her head pound and her nerves fray. Being an antisocial hermit just made life easier.

Unfortunately, the hermit gig didn’t pay much, and Ella was addicted to living indoors and eating regularly, so she had to work, which meant dealing with people on a daily basis. At the museum at least, most of the people she met were on their best behavior, and being surrounded by the art made the unwelcome company almost bearable. When she gave tours as a docent, she could concentrate on her speech and on the works she pointed out to visitors to the collection; when managing the gift shop, she could smile politely and use professionalism to keep people at bay.

Most days, things went perfectly smoothly. It was only at times like this, when she had to deal with a special event and potential donors, that Ella ended her day feeling as if she’d been dragged behind a car over a field of broken glass.

A few minutes of peace, she told herself. A few minutes of quiet and isolation, and she’d be fine again. The ache in her head would ease. She’d even be able to face the bus ride home; at this hour, it wouldn’t be crowded, and in twenty minutes, she could lock the door of her apartment and wallow in her Fortress of Solitude.

Bliss.

Taking a deep breath, Ella drew in the autumnal scent of drying leaves and cool breezes. Her head fell back as she closed her eyes and rolled her shoulders against the tension knotted there. She’d take a minute, just a minute, to herself on the ballroom terrace, her favorite spot in the entire museum, before she locked up and headed home. Just a minute to collect herself, to shore up her defenses for the short trip home.

The lighting out here was dim, especially with the caterer’s lamps removed and the museum shut down for the night. A full moon partially obscured by drifting clouds made it possible to see, but somehow the silvery sheen it cast only made the quiet of the gardens deeper and reminded Ella of the lateness of the hour. She enjoyed these hours of the night, enjoyed the play of the moonlight on the artful plantings and graceful sculptures scattered through the museum garden.

She enjoyed that she’d survived the ordeal of the party and wouldn’t have to do anything else so annoying for at least another three months. Until, as Bea had hinted, the next fiscal quarter.

“I think this is the first time I’ve seen you alone all evening, Ella.”

Stifling a shriek, she clenched her fists and spun around.

She also jumped, the ankle straps of her black Mary Janes the only things keeping her from literally coming out of her shoes. Adrenaline rushed through her, making her heart pound in her ears and her hands come up defensively. She focused and caught sight of the person whose words had just scared her witless.

Patrick Stanley.

She should have recognized the voice. Smooth and slick, it simultaneously sent shivers racing across her skin and raised the hairs on the back of her neck. Stanley was rich, handsome, and sophisticated, one of the most sought after bachelors in British Columbia, and a third-generation patron of the museum. He had a movie star’s smile and the kind of charisma that drew people to him like lemmings to a cliff face.

He also creeped Ella the hell out, especially when she caught him repeatedly staring at her the way he’d been doing all evening. She’d thought he left with the other guests. She’d thought she could relax.

“Mr. Stanley. You startled me,” she managed after a minute, once her vocal cords had unclenched and restored her power of speech. “I had no idea anyone was still here. The event ended almost an hour ago.”

Stanley stood less than ten feet away on the darkened terrace, which was about twenty feet too close for Ella’s comfort. Normally, strangers couldn’t get that near her without her sensing their presence, especially the ones who made her uncomfortable. She’d gotten very good at being difficult to surprise.

“I’m aware, but I found that there were still some things around here tonight for me to admire.” He ambled toward her, his hands buried in the pockets of his tailored trousers and his attention fixed uncomfortably on her neckline.

Ella frowned. She’d worn a simple black sheath with a high neck, a modest hem, and the sparkly cardigan over the top. She’d even paired the outfit with dark hose, which she normally loathed, but she knew there wasn’t an inch of exposed skin below her hyoid bone for him to look at. That made the man’s fixation on her even more disturbing, somehow.

She had met Stanley for the first time almost two years ago, shortly after she started working at the museum. He’d come out of a meeting with Bea and the director, Bea’s boss, just as Ella was ending a tour in the mansion’s front hall.

When Ella’s guests had scattered, Bea waved her over and introduced her to both Dr. Maurice Lefavreau and one of the museum’s greatest benefactors. Even with her mental shields still up from interacting with the tour group, something about Stanley had slipped through Ella’s defenses and convinced her that this was a man she’d much prefer to keep at the greatest possible distance in the future.

Until tonight, she thought she’d been doing a pretty good job of it.

Suppressing the slight, irrational discomfort the man’s presence always inspired, she lifted her chin and pasted on her best professional smile—the one with no actual warmth anywhere near it.

“We do have a collection to be proud of,” she remarked distantly, “and the new exhibit of Légaré landscapes is particularly worth an extended study. You should make it a point to come back on another day. The natural light does make quite a difference to the viewing.”

Turning, Ella moved toward the French doors, gesturing for him to join her. “Allow me to walk you to the front, Mr. Stanley. I believe Dr. Boucher has already locked the doors, but I’d be happy to let you out.”

She made a concerted effort to keep Stanley in her vision, but the man seemed more amused by her tactics than inclined to play along with her. He stood where he was until she drew even with him; then with a speed she hadn’t anticipated, his hand darted out and grabbed her arm. He jerked her to a stop, nearly upsetting her balance.

“Don’t be in such a hurry, Ella,” he purred, holding her closely enough that she could feel the clammy heat of his breath against her cheek. “It’s a beautiful night. Surely you can spare a few minutes to enjoy it. With me.”

Her stomach heaved.

At the best of times, Ella avoided touching strangers. Even when she kept her guard up, sometimes she could sense things about them. Right now, she sensed a sickly sort of malevolence that made her want a swift escape and a long, hot shower.

Frozen like a field mouse facing down a hungry fox, she stared into Stanley’s handsome features and fought not to let the panic overwhelm her. This was another of the reasons why she worked so hard to keep people at a distance, because she could never tell when the slightest touch would rip open her senses and let the buffeting whirlwinds of the unnatural energy that surrounded her threaten to send her spinning into the eye of the storm.

And when Ella got swept into the eye, very scary things happened.

Dizziness threatened, but Ella ruthlessly pushed it back. She blinked to clear her vision and concentrated hard on seeing only the stark reality of the objects around her—Stanley’s intense, predatory stare; the majestic old elm tree that overhung the space between the garden stairs; the protective, crouching presence of the medieval gargoyle statue looming in the background.

A hysterical laugh bubbled up in her throat when Ella realized that if that ancient French sculptor had really wanted to scare people, he would have carved a statue that looked less like a demonic guardian and more like a feckless, morally bankrupt billionaire. No monster had ever scared her the way this human man was doing.

Swallowing hard, Ella forced back the nausea and fought for control. Her head spun and her ears buzzed with the low drone of a thousand bees, signs that she’d let her guard down.

She could tell herself that she couldn’t have known she wasn’t alone out here, that the museum was closed, and that Patrick Stanley had no business lurking in the shadows when his invitation to Georgia House had expired the minute the fund-raising event ended. None of that, however, did her any good.

Pulses of restless energy battered at her weakened barriers, but she refused to let them overwhelm her. If they did, not only would she be unable to fend off Stanley’s advances, but she’d also find herself barely able to function for days, if not weeks, to come.

And that wasn’t even considering what other things might happen here in this place full of history and artifacts. Old things, especially old things full of talent and beauty, held power of their own, and they could be destroyed if she was so weak as to lose control. If she couldn’t hang on, those same things could feed the madness.

Ella couldn’t let that happen.

Frantically, she reinforced her defenses, plugging hole after hole that the black, poisonous energy rolling off Stanley tried to slip through. She could only be grateful that the cardigan she wore had kept his skin from touching hers. If it hadn’t, she’d be halfway to comatose by now.

“Mr. Stanley, I’m not sure what you’re suggesting, but it’s very late, and the museum is closed.” Her voice sounded more like a tortured croak than a confident dismissal, but she plunged ahead regardless. “Dr. Boucher and I have each worked a very long day, and I, for one, would like to return home now. Please let me go.”

Stanley’s eyes, pale blue and cold, hardened along with his grip. His fingers dug into the flesh of her upper arm with enough force to leave bruises. “I’m sure Dr. Boucher would be the first to tell you that alienating one of this museum’s largest benefactors is a poor way to do your job, Ella, my sweet. But even if she were shortsighted enough not to, I’m more than happy to correct her oversight.”

His other hand shot up and curled around her throat, nearly cutting off her air supply. What his fingers couldn’t quite accomplish, his mouth did. It attacked hers with brutal force, crushing her lips back against her teeth until she tasted blood.

Then she tasted fury.

For an instant, her control wavered. The unmuffled touch of this man’s tainted skin on hers opened her up to the most intense surge of murky energy, and she could feel the dark, vicious nature of him trying to infiltrate her defenses.

Part of her—that dark, secret part she kept imprisoned behind thick stone walls and heavy steel doors—wanted her to just let go, to stop fighting so hard to control the strange ability she’d always both feared and hated, to just let whatever wanted to happen, happen. No one would blame her. She was only defending herself.

As she felt the familiar, stomach-churning sensation of the energy welling up under her skin, she toyed with letting go, letting it not just bubble to the surface, but explode. The power inside her would stop Stanley in his tracks.

It might also stop him. Permanently.

The temptation of it shook her. Memories of what happened the last time she’d given in to the temptation flooded her. She recalled what it meant to stop fighting, when she’d been just a child and the energy battering at her had left her feeling overwhelmed, alone and hopeless, a freak of nature with a decidedly unnatural talent.

The power crawled over her skin, and she fought to pull it back. She couldn’t let that happen again.

Without warning, Stanley jerked away, releasing her mouth and leaving her with the taste of her own blood in her mouth.

His hand shifted on her throat, forcing her head up, angling it to the side until the moonlight caught and illuminated her features. His eyes glittered with lust and fury.

And something else, something that frightened Ella more than even the assault. It twisted his lips and carved lines into the surface handsomeness of his features, transforming them into a macabre mask of evil.

He stared at her for a disconcerting moment, tracing each line and expression on her face. Speculation lit his eyes, along with a dark, flickering flame Ella’s instincts immediately identified as madness.

“Well, well, aren’t you a surprise, little Ella.” His voice hissed in the darkness, soft and sharp and unctuous. “I never would have guessed you might have such … hidden depths, my dear. I see now that I’m going to have to get to know you a great deal better.”

Her stomach churned, and her senses rioted in protest.

The sharp bite of bile rising into her throat brought Ella back to reality. The bitter taste reminded her that she had made herself strong enough to fight back the electric energy crawling along her skin. And if she could withstand that siege on her control, she could certainly break free from one lecherous man’s clumsy attack.

Without resorting to anything scarier than a little judicious violence.

Stanley gripped her around her left upper arm and her throat, leaving her right hand conveniently free. She knew attempting to break his grip would be impossible; he was a good seven inches taller and fifty pounds heavier than she was, but her maneuver of choice wouldn’t require strength, just accuracy and the element of surprise.

She wiggled for effect and tried to scream out a protest from behind her clenched teeth, but that was just a distraction. Her blow, when it came, seemingly out of nowhere, involved the flat of her hand connecting hard with the side of her attacker’s head.

She boxed his ear. Viciously.

The shock and pain made him jerk back and curse, and the hand around her throat moved abruptly to cup his ringing, throbbing head. “You bitch!”

“And you’re a disgusting creep,” she countered, trying to wrench her arm completely out of his grip. “Now, get your hands off me!”

If anything, his fingers tightened, making Ella whimper involuntarily. “Oh, I don’t think so, whore. I’ve got plans for you now. You’re going to make a tasty little treat for—”

“Is everything all right out here? I thought I heard someone shout.” Bea’s voice was like a chorus from the heavens in Ella’s ears.

Quickly, she shifted from behind Stanley’s taller frame until she could see her boss standing in the doors that led from the back hall onto the terrace. She flashed a smile she knew lacked a certain sincerity and used her free hand to gesture to the man still holding her in place.

“I admit I got a little bit of a scare from Mr. Stanley here,” Ella said, her voice tight but determinedly cheerful. The last thing she wanted was some kind of nightmarish scene involving lodging a complaint about the lecher’s behavior, or even worse, filing some sort of assault charge with the city police. “I didn’t think there was anyone still here but you and me. He startled me.”

Bea’s dark gaze moved from Ella to Stanley, making note of the tiny details her keen eyes would never miss, like the way the man gripped Ella’s arm, the disheveled wrinkles in her cardigan, and the bright red hue of Stanley’s left ear.

The assistant museum director raised her eyebrows and pursed her lips. “The two of you certainly startled me,” she said. “I knew you were out here, of course, Ella, but I was afraid you might have hurt yourself.”

“No, no. I haven’t been hurt, just shaken up. Actually, I was just offering to show Mr. Stanley to the front doors. I know you locked up when the last of the guests left, and I didn’t want him to think he was trapped.”

Stanley frowned and released Ella’s arm to straighten the lapels of his evening jacket. “Béatrice, I think you should know what really happened here. I—”

Bea lifted a hand and firmed her lips. “And I think you should know that we’ve been acquainted for more than five years now, Patrick. I understand very well what happened here, and I honestly don’t think it would do anyone any good if we discussed it further.”

Stepping aside, she gestured toward the ballroom doors. “Now, seeing how late it is, please allow me to walk you out. Tonight was a wonderful success for the museum, and I’m certain Dr. Lefavreau will express his gratitude to you the very next time he sees you. Shall we?”

Ella watched as Patrick Stanley weighed his options. She knew his pride was wounded, not to mention his eardrum—for the sake of her lifelong desire not to be sued, she just hoped she hadn’t ruptured it—and any man as arrogant as he was couldn’t possibly be happy about having his plans thwarted.

She also didn’t doubt he was surprised to have his incipient lie about being the injured party in any circumstances involving her burst like an overinflated party balloon. She could practically see his desire to scratch the itch caused by her refusal to cooperate with him, and Bea’s untimely interruption.

If the man hadn’t just attacked her, she might even have been moved to sympathy.

Or at least morbid humor.

At the moment, though, she just wanted him gone and a little time alone to get a hold of herself. The aftermath of the adrenaline flood in her system had started her hands shaking, and her mental shields needed a serious tune-up, but there was no way she was taking her eyes off Stanley until she knew the man was locked firmly on the other side of the museum’s heavily carved wooden doors.

After a long moment of crackling tension, Stanley admitted defeat. Sort of.

He gave Bea a curt nod and stalked across the terrace, pulling out his cell phone on the way. “I’m suddenly more than ready for this evening to be over. My driver will pick me up out front. Let Lefavreau know I’ll be calling him in the morning.”

Stanley focused on his phone as he composed some sort of text message, so he missed seeing Bea’s eyes narrow at the threat.

By the time he glanced up, the woman had mustered a sharp smile and waved him forward. “I’m sure he’ll be more than happy to listen to whatever suggestions you have for the museum’s future. Ella, I’ll lock this door as well.” She glanced back at Ella. “You head on home now. Mr. Stanley and I will leave by the front door.”

Ella caught the final hate-filled glare the man shot her way and could just imagine what kind of suggestions Stanley would make tomorrow; first would be firing the museum’s gift shop manager, but she’d have plenty of time to worry about that later. After she got a hold of herself.

Left alone, she felt the tension drain from her in an abrupt rush, leaving her dizzy and weak-kneed. She needed to sit for a minute and remind herself how to breathe.

Carefully, she crossed to the far side of the terrace to perch at the feet of her favorite work of art in the museum’s entire collection. Its familiarity and looming presence comforted her, made it possible for her to think and be and regain her balance.

Affectionately known by the staff as Sir Arthur Conan Gargoyle, the enormous sculpture crouched atop a pedestal of polished black slate, its furious gaze trained over the rear of the building as if daring any evil spirits to attempt a breach of its domain.

Too bad it hadn’t noticed Patrick Stanley.

Technically, the statue was a grotesque, not a true gargoyle. Sir Arthur had been carved from a single block of dark French limestone sometime around the beginning of the eleventh century. Because he was solid through and had never been intended to channel rain water away from the sides of a structure, he couldn’t be correctly called a gargoyle, even though his appearance brought the term to mind as soon as anyone laid eyes on him.

Standing erect, he would have easily reached seven feet tall, and the spread of his huge, batlike wings would likely have tripled that. He had horns like a ram curling backwards from his broad forehead, and thick, lethally sharp claws tipped each of his fingers, as well as the eerily prehensile toes on his raptorlike feet. He wore a frozen snarl on his chiseled features, exposing long fangs beneath curled lips.

What had always fascinated Ella about the statue, though, were the contradictions the artist had carved into the fierce predatory beast he had sculpted. His face didn’t look like the face of an animal. In spite of the faintly flattened nose and the threatening fangs, Sir Arthur appeared remarkably human, more like a fallen angel than like a devil. That impression drew support from the exquisite detail of the cherubic curls adorning his head, clustered around the base of his horns and even dipping over his forehead. His cheekbones gave him the look of a warrior king, and despite his thickly muscled tail, the bulk of his physical attributes painted him as more man than animal.

Ella liked to think the artist had seen him as she did—a fierce guardian, willing to battle evil on its own terms, determined to protect his charges against any harm.

From what Bea had told her, Ella knew that the sculpture had a long and slightly murky history. Obviously French in origin, it had likely adorned the battlements of some abbey or castle for centuries before making its way to England during the Enlightenment, and subsequently along a convoluted trail that had finally delivered it into Western Canada.

Everyone who caught a glimpse of it marveled at its condition, for nearly a millennium of exposure to the elements had smoothed away remarkably few of the details that made it such an impressive work of art. The museum’s director had supposedly gloated for weeks after acquiring it a couple of years ago, and frankly, Ella couldn’t blame him.

It was not only her favorite piece in the collection, but also her favorite sculpture in the world. And if there was something almost alive about it, something that made her sixth sense prickle and tested her resolve to remain always in control, she was happy to ignore it for the chance to simply stare at its angles and curves. She never tired of looking at it.

Hence, all the ribbing she took about being in love with Sir Arthur. The comments might have bothered her, if she hadn’t dated infinitely worse male specimens.

If Bea hadn’t interrupted a few minutes ago, she’d have become way too closely acquainted with another one. Suppressing a shudder, Ella closed her eyes, blocked out the memory, and focused on regaining her composure.

It took a few seconds for the quiet sigh of inhale and exhale to deepen and relax, and another minute before her hands could fully register the cool, smooth texture of the slate at her sides. When she felt normal again, she tilted her head back to gaze up at the underside of the statue’s sharply angled jaw.

“You know, that pleasant little scene never would have happened if you’d been doing your duty,” she griped half-humorously to the silent guardian. “You’re supposed to repel evil. Talk about lying down on the job.”

With her chin up and her eyes on Sir Arthur’s corded throat, Ella never saw the shadow moving toward her, never heard the footsteps approaching. But she did hear the loud crack of reality fracturing all around her.

Along with the stone shell of a suddenly very animated inanimate gargoyle.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Christine Warren

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 62 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 7, 2014

    Okay, when I saw this on NetGalley, I absolutely had to grab it.

    Okay, when I saw this on NetGalley, I absolutely had to grab it. After all, gargoyles? Anyone who reads my non-review posts knows I write about gargoyles, so the chance to see someone else’s take on them? Absolutely! And man, oh man, am I glad I did. I absolutely LOVED this book.




    Ella has had powers most of her life, but has locked them away, terrified of what might happen if she lets them free (with good reason she thinks). One night, after a slimy patron of the museum she works at assaults her and a shadowy figure does attack her, the gargoyle statue she’s always been attracted to (not like that, peeps, just…drawn to a nice piece of statuary) suddenly comes to life. Yeah, she definitely handled it better than I would have. I would have fainted.




    Kees has been sleeping for centuries, waiting to be called to fight the Seven (uber-demons that he and his 6 brethren were called into the world to fight) when he is somehow awakened. He searches for his Warden, the one who’s supposed to be able to call on him, only to discover that the Guild, a group of mages who’ve helped protect the world from demon-kind, is on the run and nearly obliterated.




    Kees was interesting. He’s capable of wearing a human face so he’s not noticed as anything more than a super-hot guy. I loved the way Ella began moving past the monster she saw him as originally, to the point where she doesn’t even consciously notice as he changes between human and gargoyle forms.




    Kees so believed himself incapable of feeling things like a human did, sneering at the notion, and then finds himself falling in love with one (a Warden-in-training, but a human nonetheless). He’s driven to protect by his very nature, yet he accepts when necessary the need for Ella to protect herself. These two made for a fantastic couple as they learned what they needed to do to survive.




    The climactic battle at the end was very well done and I flipped pages on my phone app as fast as I could to see how it all worked out. It was definitely worth the time (and sleep I surrendered) to read this book.




    And yes, there is sex. Hot, steamy sex. Not too much of it, but wowser, when they popped…erm…yeah. Yum.




    The only problem with this book? I have to wait until AUGUST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! for the next one. Well, hopefully sooner than that if it goes up on NetGalley and St. Martins will grant me access to read it. Hehe.




    SO glad I read this and will have to check out her other books (she has a long-running “Others” series). I was enchanted enough by her and her book that I contacted her for an interview. I will be posting that as soon as I get it back from her!




    Thank you, Ms. Warren, and thank you St. Martin’s!




    Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2014

    Good Story - Appealing Heroine

    Intriguing story on gargoyles and a smart female lead. Definitely leaves you eagerly anticipating the next in the series. Hot physical interactions between the lead characters but never made me feel uncomfortable. The love and affection between the two was great to watch develop.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2014

    Pretty decent.

    Pretty decent. I've never given thought to a gargoyle shifter. But with 237pgs. it's worth reading the second book and so on.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 22, 2014

    What an exhilarating and captivating ride! I truly enjoyed every

    What an exhilarating and captivating ride! I truly enjoyed every minute of it. The weaving of the magic and the intensely paranormal plot was breathtaking to watch as it unfolded. Watching as the world they knew not only change right before their eyes but transform into something even better yet more terrifying than their wildest dreams was the best part of all. I love when stories reveal the unexpected yet perfect balance of excitement, anticipation, and revelation. This is a beautiful story that I couldn’t get enough of, and I hope that it continues to develop into something utterly amazing! It has so much raw potential that is just waiting to burst at the seams.

    Ella has a past that she would rather forget, so she works hard to make her present and future as safe as possible. She keeps her world small yet challenging while keeping certain safeguards in place. All of her best laid plans are blown away with the dust of an impossible reality that forces itself upon her. While she has no choice but to be swap along in its path, she refuses to go silently or submissively. With each step she takes and each question she is forced to face, she will find that while her word of yesterday has been devastated beyond repair, her future never looked brighter. When faced with a terrifying and unknown future, will Ella find the courage she needs to become who she was always mean to be, or will she shrink away in horror and pray that she lives another day while running away from all that she has been forced to see?

    I have to admit that I absolutely loved watching Ella slow but steady progression from a quiet and backward woman to one who was ready to face the horrors that the world threw at her. The life that she knew as suddenly over, and yet she didn’t have to face this change alone. She found another who not only filled the void in her soul, but who also challenged and shaped her into who she was born to be. Kees was beyond frightening and menacing at their first meeting, and yet she found herself still drawn to him in a most unusual way. It was her heart that recognized him before she did. Even while he denied their deep yet incomprehensible connection for as long as possible, neither one of them could let the other go. Their stubbornness proved to be their greatest asset that showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that only together could they ever hope to battle the coming evil.

    Christine Warren has stolen my heart with this incredibly exquisite story of heartfelt determination, unfailing devotion, and steadfast love. I look forward to reading more from this series as I have fallen in love with both the wonderful characters and the spell-binding storyline. This is one series that you won’t be able to put down!

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  • Posted August 29, 2014

    Read and enjoy.

    I'm ready for the next following story of the brothers. Want to know how they all do. Enjoyed this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2014

    Jade to Stonepelt

    Im from the match maker thing you posted on. I think i found you the perfect mate. And she has a clan if you like

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2014

    Stonepelt

    Yawned

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 12, 2014

    The world is not what we might think, there¿s always something h

    The world is not what we might think, there’s always something hiding in the shadows – have you ever had that sense of Déjà vu? My goodness happens all the time, I find myself in that situation where I feel as if I’ve been there, done that, and I spend my time trying to figure it out – but what if that sense of Déjà vu was about a person and you just had this creepy feeling about them and just could not place it.  Seems that the world may hide secrets we as race of humans cannot even begin to fathom, that maybe those secret worlds play out right under our noses.  As an avid reader I am always wondering in the back of my mind how true Vampire, Archangel, Mythology, and other paranormal stories are? Are they playing out right under our noses in some secret world?  Hmmm makes you think does it not?




    Ella Harrow is what she would consider a plain Jane – a woman of no real interest, just trying to live her life as it were hiding in society.  Yet she has a secret – something hidden deep in her DNA – magic she is bound and determined to keep vaulted inside until one fateful night when she somehow awakens Kees, a gargoyle who lives on the patio at the art museum she works at…what? Wait a minute! She thinks to herself, how in the world did this happen?  Well simple, magic.  From the moment she awakens Kees she is thrust into a battle between good and evil, magic and demons that she desperately is trying to figure out where she fits in.  At the same time this man/gargoyle that has placed himself in her life has reawakened something within her, something she did not feel she deserved.  She’s not only harboring her Magic deep within, but she is also harboring a secret from the past that she feels she ought to be punished for.  




    An intriguing read for sure, from the moment I opened this book I knew I was in the whirlwind of a read -  a romance unlike the many I’ve read before.  Then again I have read a lot of variations of the story, Man is monster, meets plain Jane woman who is not at all what she envisions herself to be, man and woman are thrust into a situation of high intensity that forces them together and low and behold man/beast and woman fall in love.  It’s a twist on the Beauty and the Beast story told in similar variation fashion.  Sometimes the author nails it as is done with the JR Ward Black Dagger Brotherhood series, or it’s done somewhat ok like in the PC Cast Goddess books, or it’s done mediocre in indie books.  I would place Heart of Stone somewhere between JR Ward and PC Cast – the author developed the story well, the characters were developed to the point needed in the story with more emphasis placed on our heroin Ella as it should have been.  The story itself was a bit predictable and done time and time again, like most of these books the story itself culminates to an all-out “boss fight” if you will in the last two chapters of the book – you spend the entire book wondering where the story is going and BAM there it is right in front of you…and then the last part of the book is the man committing himself to the woman somehow giving up everything he’s known or vice versa the woman giving everything up for the man she falls for…as unrealistic as that is, it is a novel and not real life.




    Three out of Five Stars for Heart of Stone something I’ll recommend for someone looking for a light read.




    **I was presented a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

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  • Posted April 25, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This series reads like it¿s going to be pretty good. Gargoyles a

    This series reads like it’s going to be pretty good. Gargoyles aren’t your typical paranormal paramours, but Ms. Warren does an exceptional job of getting the reader captivated by the possibility. I was fascinated by the back-story of Kees and his brethren, the Guardians, and how they are the opposition to the Dark demons and their quest to takeover the world. Ms. Warren has set up a seemingly insurmountable task for Guardians with the destruction of their home base and multiple murders of those who are meant to protect them in their dormant stone state.

    The only reason I gave it a 3 instead of a 4 was Ella. We just didn’t click, and her character was like nails on a chalkboard to me throughout the entire story. If the rest of it hadn’t hooked me so deeply, I wouldn’t spend any more time on this series. However, she is but a small part in a large production, and I can overlook that when Book #2, Stone Cold Lover comes out late this summer. It is at the top of my “to read” list, for sure!

    Rating: 3

    HEAT Rating: Hot

    Reviewed By: Daysie W.

    Review Courtesy of: My Book Addiction and More

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  • Posted April 17, 2014

    This was a great read. I got the book from NetGalley. The whole

    This was a great read. I got the book from NetGalley. The whole Gargoyles thing was different but it works. I like both Characters in the book and you do fall a little in love with Kees. I am looking forward to more books in this series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2014

    This is the first book by Christine Warren, I have read. I was n

    This is the first book by Christine Warren, I have read. I was not disappointed. I thought I would never find a male with horns and tail attractive. I like Kees with his dry humor and engaging personality. Poor Ella with her quick wit and agreeable heroine. They make a very fetching couple. The story begins when Ella has an altercation with Patrick Stanley and an unknown attacker. Kees wakes up from his slumber to save the heroine. Throughout the story, Ella learns she posses magic and Kees trains her to use it properly. They both grasp there is a bigger evil threat in the works. Meanwhile, they are fighting the attraction to each other. I can't wait to read the next book to find out the next course. I received a complimentary copy for an honest review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2014

    Medicine Cat Den

    StoneClan

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I had a hard time getting into this book but once I did there wa

    I had a hard time getting into this book but once I did there was some good parts. This book was written well and would read more by this author in the future

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2014

    Love it

    Can't wait for more

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  • Posted February 16, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    My Thoughts - 4 out of 5 Unicorns - I really liked it!!  If you

    My Thoughts - 4 out of 5 Unicorns - I really liked it!!  If you love shifters, you will love gargoyles too!!!!  :)
    ***Received the ebook from St. Martin’s Press for an honest review

    The cover is very, well… yummy and great eye candy :)  Love it!!

    I have a fondness for gargoyles because of my dad.  He used to call me and my sisters his gargoyles, and I loved Disney’s show Gargoyles too!!  This is the 2nd book I’ve read with Gargoyles in it, and I think I like them as much as my shifter and vamp books.

    This book started a little slow for me, but this happens when you have a new world and characters to learn about.  Ella and Kees are awesome, and I think this series is going to be a fantastic one and will only get better with each book.

    Ella is a strong woman who keeps everyone at arm’s length because of her past which you will have to read about because I refuse to ruin it for you.  Her life changes on the terrace of the museum she works for.  She meet Kees who turns her world upside down.  They can’t explain that they are somehow connected.  This book has tons of action fighting the bad guys, magic, and some very steamy scenes as well.  I can’t wait for the next book.

    I recommend this book to all my fellow paranormal romance fans & of course all of you who already love Christine Warren as I do.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2014

    Gargoyles are hot!

    Ella: "I don't care if you shift into fifth gear or a half-dead wallaby, I want answers"...geez that was hillarious!

    I did like the concept of the story line but felt it lacked a bit. I would probably read another by this author just to get a feel for her style.

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  • Posted January 29, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Ella has been trying to hide the power the lives inside of her a

    Ella has been trying to hide the power the lives inside of her all her life. The power that spilled out of her when she was a child and destroyed her world. Although Ella wants to deny that it exists, there are those who feel the magic inside her and are drawn to it and if she won’t use that magic, they will take it from her.

    When she is attacked one night in the garden of the museum where she works, at the feet of the large gargoyle statue, she is not sure what is scarier–the fact that she is being attacked or the fact that a giant gargoyle has come to her rescue.

    Kees is surprised to be awoken by the little human. Guardians can only be awakened by their Warden, who is a member of the Guild, and only to fight the Darkness, not to help a human woman who is being mugged.

    But it is a good thing for the universe that Ella was able to awaken Kees, the noturnis, who serve the Darkness have finally realized the way to win the war against the Guardians. While the Guardians slept, the notornis have been killing off the Wardens so that there would be none to awaken the Guardians while the Darkness takes over the world.

    Now is it up to Kees and Ella to locate the rest of the Guardians and try to wake them without the magic of the Wardens, but with just the two of them against a notornis army, do they have any hope to win?

    THOUGHTS:
    Although this was an interesting story with a nice set up for future novels, I was quite distracted by the fact that the sleeping Guardian woke up way too familiar with the modern world even though he is over 1000 years old, he hasn’t fought the Darkness since the 1700′s and the last time he was awoken to meet his newest human Guardian was 65 years ago. Now this was addressed by saying the Guardians were in more like a coma like state where they were aware of the world around them but I still felt that hearing vague pieces of information from people wandering around a museum shouldn’t have a Guardian up to speed on a world that has significantly changed in 65 years. My mother-in-law hasn’t been asleep for the last 65 years but we still have a hard time explaining to her about apps on an Ipad.

    As an example, Ella makes a Star Wars joke about turning to the dark side (it was clever), and Kees appears to understand it, although he has never watched a movie and a reference to joining the dark side should have confused him since they are fighting the Darkness.

    Like any good fish out of water story, it should have taken some time for Kees to acclimate to his newly awakened environment.

    This wasn’t the best Guardian story that I have ever read although it could have potential.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2014

    Are Gargoyles the new Vampires? This is a great start to a new

    Are Gargoyles the new Vampires?

    This is a great start to a new series. When a huge stone gargoyle, Kees comes to life just in time to rescue museum employee Ella it is the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Granted there are some bumps in the road as Kees struggles to find out what happened to the handful of his brethren who are tasked to save the world from the constant threat of dark evil and the organization of Watchers they work with while Ella contends with getting a handle on the raw power she has struggled to hide since childhood. And of course there's that smoking hot sexual attraction between the two of them. Ella is a terrific heroine. She is smart, down to earth and holds her own in the upheaval of life as she knew it. Kees' is one hot gargoyle - even with horns and a tail. (Although he has a gorgeous human form.) Warrior Kees works to handle the new found human emotions that Ella brings out in him while he works with her to control her power to aid in facing the oncoming evil. There were some parts that could have been developed out better in terms of character continuity but I found the story to be a delightful romance and fun paranormal adventure. I am excited that this is the beginning of a series although it can basically be read as a stand alone in terms of the romance. I can't wait to meet the next Gargoyle and his human soul mate as they meet and join the fight to save the world.

    I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.Myrt

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2014

    AWESOME READ!

    I was very excited to see a new series from Christine Warren and couldn't wait to read this first book in her new series. I am so very glad to say that I was NOT disappointed! This book was great and I absolutely cannot wait for the next book. Afer reading the entire The Others series (which I absolutely loved), I had hoped to see more from Christine Warren, and once again she did not disappoint! AWESOME JOB CHRISTINE!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2014

    Great story, fun characters

    I enjoyed this story a lot. It's a different writing style than what I usually read, but I loved the book. First this takes place in Canada, unlike most romance stories. Then I love the concept of gargoyles as protectors against evil that can be awakened in times of need...the mythology made sense, but didn't take over the book. There was plenty if action, so it wasn't just a cheesy romance. The sex scenes, just a couple, but really hot. Ella was a believable heroine with real life reactions and very endearing. I would have liked more on her inner struggles on accepting magic and her role in saving the world, but maybe she's just very practical and doesn't overthink things. The dialogue was witty and fun to follow. I loved Kees' character, alpha male taking the lead and trying to resist feelings. I thought his possessive thoughts of Ella started a litlle too early, but hey he was falling in love so I'll get over it. Overall it's a great story and I was actually looking to buy the next one and read Fil's story. Since that book has yet to be written I settled for writing a review instead.

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