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Ascension - Caris Roane
I loved, loved, LOVED this story! The author created an exciting world for her characters to play in. Some things took place on Earth (as we know it), but the real battle wages on Second Earth – our world, only in a different dimension. Even her version of vampire warriors were different from anything I've read to date. They wear black leather kilts and battle gear, which made me think of Brad Pitt in Troy ... yummy. Oh, and they have wings ... cue the swoon. If you're a fan of Gena Showalter, Kresley Cole, Jacquelyn Frank and J.R. Ward, then you'll love this series.

Kerrick is one of the seven Warriors of the Blood, an elite group of warriors who battle death-vampires and protect Endelle, the ruler of Second Earth, as well as carry out her orders. Kerrick is also a Guardian of Ascension. His job is to guard ascendiates during their rite of ascension. The murder of his second wife and children led him to vow never to fall in love and take a wife ever again. When his next guard duty leads him to the mortal woman Alison Wells, his will and his vows are tested to the limit. The instant attraction is unlike anything he's ever experienced. Until then he thought it was a myth, but the signs are all there – it's the breh-hedden or mate-bonding.

Alison Wells is a therapist in Phoenix on Mortal Earth. She has always lived a lonely existence because of her inexplicable supernatural powers. When her last boyfriend ends up in the ER because she couldn't control her powers during moments of intense intimacy, she sees no other choice but to remain celibate. When her sister tells her that she's pregnant with her second child, Alison's world crumbles a little more. Her sister leads the life Alison so desperately wants – to be normal, to have a husband and children. Her sister's news just reemphasizes how different Alison really is. A murder outside of her office building will change her life in ways she could never imagine. Not only has she gained the attention of a death-vampire after her blood and her powers, but one of her clients tries to recruit her "to the dark side", and then there's Kerrick. When she sees he has similar powers to hers, for the first time she feels hope; that maybe there is a man out there who could handle her powers. What do her strange dreams mean? Why does she see herself with fangs and wings?

"Who are you?" she asked, her voice a hoarse whisper. "Are you going to kill me?" He shook his head. "I'm here to protect you." Other thoughts scrambled his head. I will always protect you. I was born to protect you. I will serve as your guardian, now and forever.

Then there's the matter of the overwhelming attraction she feels towards him. She doesn't understand it, but she doesn't fight it tooth and nail either. Is she willing to leave her old life behind to embrace the unknown where there are others like her?

This book is long, but I was hooked from the first page. This book has it all, humor, heart-pounding action, a great love story, a tortured hero, a tough heroine, a great supporting cast and some of the hottest sex that will steam your screen and leave you slightly breathless. It took a while to fully understand the terminology, but the author provides a glossary for those who don't want to wait for the explanation to unfold during the story. The supporting cast of characters lent humor and tension to the plot, but none more than Endelle. She reminded me of a cross between Nix and Regin from Kresley Cole's IAD. She comes across as heartless, bitchy and demanding, but as you go along, you understand why she is the way she is.

Kerrick and Alison made a great pairing. Their personal demons were almost a match – he's afraid of getting her killed, and she's afraid of accidentally killing him. It's a good thing they both had telepathic powers which helped to curb the plot bunny from building misunderstandings for added drama. The mate-bonding may have been the driving force behind their attraction, but I think they each had their fair share of traits that made them very likeable, both to each other and to readers. I thoroughly enjoyed Kerrick's struggle to stay away from his fated mate. Even though he gives in from time to time, it never came across as if he were using her. The push and pull felt realistic.

Alison is a tough cookie. I thought she had a great measure of courage, and with her kinds of powers, I'm glad she took a very active and physical role in this story. My favorite scene is her battle training with Kerrick, and the actual battle in a fight to the death. The mate-bonding signs were rather interesting. The most prominent sign was their pheromones. It seems that females give off a flowery scent, whereas the men ooze spices. For Alison it's lavender and for Kerrick it's cardamom. If there was anything that bothered me, it would be the number of times that their individual scents got mentioned: lavender – 65, cardamom – 28. Oh, and breh-hedden popped up a total of 84 times. A little repetitive in those areas, but the story as a whole made up for it. I loved the creative way the author managed to describe the sex scenes. They were unbelievably hot, and not like standard vampire matings. This was a full body experience!

I'm definitely going to follow the rest of this series. I want to see the other warriors find their happiness that they've lived without for so long, and I can't wait to dive back into this world and the adventures to come.