REVIEW: Parker’s Sanctuary: A Guardsmen Novel by Cooper West
Stalked by danger, will Parker ever find a place to call home?
Greg Lademar is an ordinary and average Army veteran who has settled down with his job as an accountant and his lingering PTSD. He lives a quiet life as a single man, alone on the former blueberry farm he bought from his parents after they retired to Orlando. When a friend who works with animal control asks him to foster Parker, a severely injured dog who has just been rescued from an abusive home, the last thing Greg expects is to be dragged into the mysterious world of the Guardsmen — the bonded pairs of humans and their weredogs, known as Protectors, who are literally the stuff of myths and legends.
Greg’s life is turned upside down by unexpected events involving Parker and the strange Guardsmen pair Marcus and Alex Stephanek, but far more dangerous to him is the man who used to own Parker and holds a grudge for having “his” dog taken from him. A game of cat and mouse ensues, with more on the line than even Greg ever thought possible: his life, and the life of Parker, who has become more important to him than Greg ever imagined a rescue dog could be.
Welcome to the world of Guardsmen, bonded pairs of weredogs and their partners who live on the edges of society — worshipped and feared in turn, sheltered as much as they are shunned, Guardsmen mates live, love, and die together.
Dear Cooper West,
I thought that I had reviewed the first book in this series (either here or when I was reviewing for “Reviews by JesseWave”), but it turned out that I only reviewed it on Amazon. Because that review is a little bit more detailed than my usual amazon review I am linking to it to give the readers a brief look at what the first book was about.
I am torn as to whether to recommend that you read the first book before starting this one. Although it has more detailed world-building, I doubt you will be lost if you don’t. All you need to know that in this world, which is otherwise very close to ours, the Guardsmen are a big deal. These guys are usually are bonded in pairs as protector and handler. The protector is a weredog, the handler is usually a human who can communicate telepathically with the protector, and together they can do amazing things. I really liked how the first book took a tongue-in-cheek look at famous people in our world’s history and decided that they were actually bonded pairs of Guardsmen. I also really appreciated what the author did with her version of the mating bond, which in this world does not act as a substitute for everlasting love.
In this book, as the blurb states, we meet Greg, whose family has been involved in fostering dogs for a long time. When Greg served in the army he was paired with a dog which was killed in the line of duty. Her death contributed to Greg’s PTSD, and he was unable to return to fostering dogs after he returned to civilian life.
Greg lives a quiet life and seems happy with his accounting career, but his nightmares still bother him from time to time. One day his friend Marsha calls him and says she is desperate; the dog they rescued is in a really bad condition and could Greg please foster him? Despite his reservations Greg decides to give fostering another try and pretty much falls for Parker. I thought the gentle attention Greg gave to Parker was really sweet and some of the scenes where they get to know each other (as man and dog) were funny.
Then Parker’s previous owner, who is apparently pretty unhinged, starts to stalk them. There is a specific reason why he does that but revealing it would lead too far into spoiler territory. Let’s just say that the guy was the main external source of the problems Parker and Greg encountered throughout the book.
I do not think it is a spoiler to reveal that at some point in the book Parker manifests as a protector (in other words Parker the husky is actually a weredog who shifts into being a man) and that’s when the Guardsmen Institute’s representatives make an appearance. And who is better to make an appearance than Alex and Marcus, the main couple from the first book? I really liked how their substantial cameo was handled, and if you like them you may be tempted to read their book. I liked that they were involved in helping new potential couple and did not always know what to do either. It made sense to me.
I also liked how Parker and Greg fell in love, they were really sweet together. But when the subject of the bond came up, I ended up being really irritated. Not at the bond itself, but at the idea that it is so hard to figure it out that two people who are falling in love and not denying it could also be bonded. My irritation started early in the book, when Greg was displaying unbelievable cluelessness. See, Guardsmen are a very prominent feature of this world, and Greg is a huge fan of art about Guardsmen. While some specific pieces of information are guarded as secrets by the Institute, their existence is not a secret at all. Moreover, when Greg initially heard that Parker’s previous owner ranted that this was his “promised” protector, his first question to Marsha was whether it was possible that Parker was indeed a protector. But no one had heard about a newly manifested protector in the area and so the question seemed to die away.
So even early in the book I rolled my eyes at Greg for failing to become suspicious when his dog really REALLY loved coffee and was determined to drink it from the human’s cup no matter how opposed that human was. But okay, I guess it could be shrugged away as the dog being very smart. Some other things could not, though, and I felt like some serious smacking of both guys over the heads needed to happen over the way it developed – oh we are not bonded, but we are not NOT bonded either. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the story overall.
I also wanted to note that I noticed some grammar mistakes and I usually get paranoid because if I notice them, it’s often a sign that there are more that I missed. So I went to read other reviews and at least one reviewer at Amazon called the story “riddled with grammar mistakes,” so take that aspect into consideration.