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Dark Defender: Paladins of Darkness    by Alexis Morgan order for
Dark Defender
by Alexis Morgan
Order:  USA  Can
Pocket, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Alexis Morgan returns with chapter two in her intriguing Paladins of Darkness series. It follows the lives and the loves of genetically predisposed warriors who guard Earth against invasion from the Others - mutant humans living in a dark underground domain. The Paladins' longevity and amazing healing abilities help them cheat death and be revived again and again until they ultimately succumb to madness.

When Blake Trahern learns of the fiery death of his mentor, the man who raised him, he rushes to St. Louis, vowing to track down those responsible. But first, he must make sure that Judge Nichols' daughter, Brenna, remains safe from attackers determined to finish the job as well as recover whatever incriminating evidence the Judge has gathered against the Regents. Brenna is targeted while recuperating in hospital, forcing Blake to whisk her into hiding where both are aware that an attraction that's been simmering since they were teens could resurface at any time.

Blake knows he's got no business getting involved with Brenna, close as he is to succumbing to the final madness and the ultimate humiliation of being put down like a rabid wolf. Brenna too, is leery of giving in to her years-long attraction to a man who turned his back on the family who took him in off the streets and raised him. She knows he's hiding dark secrets, including unanswered questions about his past and the secretive ties he maintained with her father. Even so, their mutual attraction is too powerful to deny. But can the pair stay one step ahead of those hunting them, while ferreting out the traitors orchestrating the downfall of the Paladins and of the fragile Barrier that keeps the Others from invading the daylight?

While the plot and the relationship between Blake and Brenna is not as strong as it might have been, Morgan continues dropping hints about the centuries-old Paladins, their true origins and genetic ties with the Others. She also paints an intriguing picture of discord and betrayal within the secretive ranks of the Regents and other shadowy characters who control the lives (and deaths) of the Paladins. Strong secondary characters and their sub-plots present a tantalizing lead-in for the next book. If you like a paranormal romance with a unique plot, then Dark Defender fits the bill and offers good reading entertainment.

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