Aisling Grey is just recovering from a horrible divorce, so a trip to Paris, France, to deliver an ancient artifact seems like a great chance to forget her problems for a short time. Unfortunately, nothing goes to plan. She arrives to find the recipient hanging from the ceiling, which is bad enough, but there is a circle of demon summoning on the floor and a strangely attractive man called Drake Vireo who claims to be an agent from Interpol. As the police arrive, she finds that Drake has disappeared with the artifact and that she is now the prime suspect in a bizarre killing. Within 24 hours she discovers that she is a Guardian, controller of the gates of Hell; that Drake is actually a dragon and she is his Mate; and that there is a whole, hidden world of magic and supernatural beings. In her attempts to clear her name and retrieve the artifact she gains some allies, including the demon Effrijim. “Jim” has been cast out by his Demon Lord, and is a free agent, which means he can be quite useful. However, he manifests in the form as a huge black Newfoundland, with an endless appetite, an overpowering obsession with cleaning his ‘bits’ and a massive crush on her friend’s corgi. As Aisling deals with gallons of drool and prodigious mounds of ‘leavings’, she cannot help thinking that being his new Demon Lord is not such a great job. The bodies pile up as Aisling tries to learn about being a Guardian and Drake’s Mate, while solving the murders and stopping Jim from doing anything too disgusting.
This was an enjoyable read, which moved along nicely and kept me interested. The sexual tension between Aisling and Drake was handled fairly well, and the characters were interesting and well drawn. However, there didn’t seem to be much development in Aisling’s character. Also, she seemed rather passive in her reaction to every revelation, accepting more in 24 hours than seems realistic. If she had been numb and shocked, and later ‘awoke’ to have a major screaming fit / nervous breakdown I would have felt less uneasy. This unease also extends to the first few sex scenes, which she dismisses as dreams, even though there is evidence to the contrary. However, my major stumbling block was the taxi driver, Rene, whom I found totally unbelievable. He collects her at the airport and is exceptional helpful and very, very cheap, dropping his normal business to drive her about for practically nothing. Excuse me for being cynical, but I simply cannot mesh this with my experience of taxis in major European cities. This made me believe that he had some other connection to the story, and so I kept waiting for the big reveal that he was someone important. I will try the other books in this series or some MacAlister’s other titles, but they are not at the top of my reading list at the moment.