Rating: 4.25 stars
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Rian O’Reilly and his brothers were cursed hundreds of years ago. They spend 25 years awake, then sleep for 100 years as gargoyles. The only way to break the curse is to find their true loves, and the brothers are only a couple of years from the time they are set to return to stone for another century. For Rian, time may be even shorter, as he is falling into lengthy “naps” for days at a time, making him fear he might return to his century-long sleep before his time. Rian’s brother, Drew, has found his soulmate and returned to human form, but Rian knows that is not going to happen for him. So he has been working hard to find a way to break the curse some other way, and has enlisted the help of a professor who specializes in legend who might have some ideas.
Professor Logan Davis wants to help Rian, but he is not at his best after experiencing the crippling loss of both his mother and his twin brother within a very short period. He is still overcome by grief and not as focused as he normally might be. But he does still have enough of his werewolf senses intact to recognize that Rian isn’t fully human. Once the men realize they both have a supernatural connection, it makes the research process easier, and the two spend long days together digging further into the legends that might reveal another way to break the curse or a weakness on the part of the woman who cursed them.
The brothers had thought that the situation with the mountain lion pack attacking them was resolved, but when they start to cause trouble again, they realize that it was just a temporary reprieve. It is clear that the pack is being controlled in some way by the same woman who cursed the brothers, and finding out what hold she has just might help. As Rian and Logan continue to work together, they are finding an easy camaraderie, a fast friendship, and a growing attraction. So much so that Rian realizes he is falling for the sweet, gentle Logan. But with threats around every corner, it is hard to have time to focus on their relationship. Not to mention that Logan is still grieving and isn’t really in a place to think about having more with Rian. But Rian’s time is running out before he goes to sleep for a century, and even as the men are starting to develop real feelings for each other, it may just be too late for them to be together.
Stone Skin is the second book in the Gargoyles of Arrington series and is an enjoyable continuation of this trilogy. Burke finds a nice balance between focusing on a new romantic pairing in Rian and Logan, but also building on the series threads that started in the first book. I think you could probably jump in here if you really wanted to, but familiarity with the first book will definitely enhance your enjoyment of this one.
Logan and Rian are such a sweet, appealing pair. Logan is still really dealing with his grief and at times it just overwhelms him. His mother and brother were all the family and pack that he had, and their loss is just crushing. Getting a chance to not only find love with Rian, but also gain a family of sorts with his brothers, Josh, and some other area shifters gives Logan that bond that he has really been missing. The cast grows here in this story and there is a nice sense of family building. Logan is this gentle giant who is such a great fit for Rian. The two have just this comfortable connection and there is a sweet, sexiness to their interactions. I love that Rian doesn’t push Logan, even once he realizes Logan may be his only chance at breaking the curse. He is patient and loving and the two fall for each other in such a sweet way. I’ll admit, I teared up at a bit at the end as things all come together for them.
The story also continues the larger thread of the threat from both the mountain lions and the woman who cursed them. There is a nice tie in here with the relationship end in that Logan is so knowledgable about many of these legends, as well as being a good researcher, so he is able to jump in and help try to figure it all out. We get some nice progress to the series conflict, get some new revelations that totally surprised me, and things are set up well for the next story on both the curse side of things, as well as the relationship end.
This series is a lot of fun, with appealing characters and a creative storyline. I really enjoyed Rian and Logan, and I am excited for what is next for the brothers in the final book.