3 out of 4 stars
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Normally, I put trigger warnings in my opinion section of the review. However, the nature of The Watchers Book One: In the Valleys of the Earth, by R.R. Pearl (hereafter referred to as The Watchers), compels me to give them now. The Watchers is a male/male romance and adventure novel which contains explicit intimate encounters. There is also violence up to and including emotionless murder. Minor cursing occurs throughout the book. If any of these plot points offends or disturbs you, I strongly encourage you to look elsewhere for reading material.
Still Here? Excellent! Onward!
Dr. Alexander Ranulf Ian Coimhead sounds like the name of a distinguished, possibly somewhat stuffy, old professor sitting in an armchair smoking a pipe, doesn’t it? Umm… not so much. Alec is an acknowledged expert in the field of Xenoarchaeology, but he is far from old and stuffy. Excitable and impulsive would be better descriptors for him. Luckily, he has Clemy. Ahem, I mean Dr. Clementine Armisted. Fellow archeologist and BFF rolled into one small package of energy and logic; she is an important side character adept at pulling Alec out of whatever trouble his impulsiveness has caused. As the book opens, the pair are working a dig in Egypt, which Alec vehemently believes to be the site of Duadel (the prison site of Azazel, a high-level fallen angel). An ancient tablet has been found, and though Clemy cautions Alec not to handle the artifact unnecessarily, well… you know he does it anyway.
At his first touch, the tablet glows an eerie blue, and Alec is mentally thrown back in time to witness an inconceivable battle between angels and twisted creatures from Hell. He sees something else as well. An ethereally beautiful, angelic warrior turns and looks at him with emerald eyes hooded with both recognition and something more. This is Alec’s first glimpse of Raphael “Rafe” and the first spark of the love that is to come. As he returns to himself, as in any adventure novel, all hell (not literally) breaks loose.
The Watchers is a fast-paced and thrilling adventure reminiscent of George Lucas’ Indiana Jones and The Seal of Solomon, by K.T. Tomb, with a sizzling, intense, and perhaps forbidden, romance thrown in for good measure. I think my favorite feature of the book, besides the romance aspect, is the thread of humor woven throughout the story. Rafe has a particularly enjoyable dry wit. The world-building was competent. Both present-day and ‘historical’ environments were described in enough detail that the reader can easily ‘see’ them, and each scene is skillfully written to enhance the action happening at that moment. However, it went no further than that. The author deftly tossed in unforeseen twists at every turn. The final twist at the end actually had me cursing. I was tempted to throw my tablet at the wall. (I didn’t.)
Our protagonists, Alec and Rafe (Raphael), were engaging characters from the moment I ‘met’ them. Rafe was particularly intriguing. Strikingly handsome, he is a man shrouded in secrets, which he is reluctant to share with Alec, despite the strong emotional pull between them. No amount of snooping or questioning by Alec weakens his resolve to have his past remain buried. Obviously more than he appears to be, his role is that of a bodyguard turned lover (eventually), and he is intensely protective of Alec. He is the character who experienced the most growth in the story. Beginning as taciturn and closed to the world, we see him slowly open up to the possibility of an intimate relationship. This progression creates slow-burn anticipation within the blossoming romance.
Alec was a fun and enjoyable character. He had a mischievous streak a mile wide and a highly amusing zest for sharing his incomparable knowledge of history at the most inappropriate of times, such as during a battle. He was good-looking and no slouch in a fight. An expert with throwing-knives, he saved Rafe’s life on several occasions. However, I had a very distinct problem with Alec. Overall, he was portrayed as a competent, confident adult. However, there were times when he inexplicably acted in an incredibly juvenile manner. This was a major issue in his development as a character. Every time he seemed to be maturing, he would then unexpectedly do something childish again. Worse still, every time Rafe looks at him with even a hint of interest (intimate or otherwise), he melts into a puddle of goo and suddenly becomes the stereotype of the female in a dime romance novel. For instance, in their conversations, the author often used the word “giggles” to indicate how Alec laughed. Even though Alec and Rafe are positively adorable together, there is a huge disconnect in behavior here.
Despite that significant problem, I enjoyed reading The Watchers. The book seemed well-edited. I found only a handful of countable errors and a few formatting problems. After some debate, I reached the decision to rate it 3 out of 4 stars. I just could not get past Alec’s inconsistent character development. I would recommend it for adults eighteen and older who enjoy light sci-fi and fast-paced action-adventure storylines. Because of the erotic content, I do not recommend it for anyone younger than eighteen. I hope you enjoy this initial journey into the Valleys of the Earth.
The Watcher Book One In The Valleys Of The Earth
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