As a kid who grew up watching Gargoyles and later having very inappropriate thoughts about Goliath and Desdemona, of course I leapt at a chance to read this ARC. And it’s exactly what it says on the tin: a gargoyle monster romance with daddy dom kink.
After a childhood as a successful actress, Jules should’ve been set for life. Instead, her mom and ex-manager kicked her out when she turned eighteen and refuse to relinquish her trust. Ten years later, she pays her bills by sugaring, especially the lawyer bill to try to win her trust back. After a spate of bad luck, her new client Titan seems wealthy enough to support her long enough to regain some financial security. Except he seems to have more questions about one of her previous clients than any actual interest in her… until he absolutely rocks her world. Shaken, Jules tries to regain control by stealing a ring from him, but that piece of jewelry is the illusion that makes him look human. Turns out, Titan is a gargoyle, and that former client is a lead to regaining a magical relic stolen from the gargoyles long ago. Helping out the gargoyles in return for money isn’t that different from her usual job, but what she feels for Titan is. But once the relic is in reach, will Jules end up discarded again once Titan gets what he wants?
“He’d made me relinquish the power I so easily commanded with my arrangements. I’d given myself up to Titan to the point of forgetting that money was the reason I was his bed in the first place. He’d done that to me, and I’d called him Daddy for the privilege.”
Jules is a prickly woman who took a bit to grow on me. For obvious reasons, she doesn’t trust easily, and in all honesty she’s more suspicious of Titan’s motives than that he’s a gargoyle. After being used and then abandoned by the people that were supposed to take care of her, she’s determined to stand on her own two feet and fix all her problems herself. What’s kept her going for the past ten years was her conviction that she’d eventually get revenge on them, that she’d win the case and get access to her trust fund. Even in sugaring, she’s the one who has to have the upper hand, controlling the encounter so that it goes the way she expects. However, nothing feels the same with Titan.
Gargoyles are part of the Strange, a hidden world of magic, tasked with protecting a magical pocket known as the Relic Room. Ever since a rebellion by others of their number caused them to lose the key to it, they’ve felt an endless pull to find the treasure again, and Jules’ client may just have that key. Titan almost immediately goes uber-protective over Jules, initially refusing to let her get any further involved. But it’s hard to argue that Jules’ Hollywood connections wouldn’t be an asset to get them access to where they suspect the key is being held. For the first time in his life, Titan feels torn between two priorities: his centuries-old one of finding the Keystone, or protecting Jules.
“This morning I pretended she was all I had to care about. I saw her carefully built strength, her unflinching drive for survival, and everything in me wanted to ease her burden. But my brothers reminded me that the Pull must always come first.”
Overprotective alphas can be a hard sell for me, and at times Titan verged on stalkery, with some serious “I’m protective of what’s mine” vibes. Gargoyles were created with the sole intent to protect, though, so I guess it makes sense that he’d react this one to someone he considers precious. It’s also no surprise that the bleak moment involves him trodding all over Jules’ boundaries, so in the end he does rein himself in a bit. Daddy kink is also not my thing, but it was done well enough that I could appreciate how much Julianna and Titan enjoyed it. The daddy kink lets her allow someone else to take care of her in a controlled way, and paves the way to her accepting that it’s not a weakness to accept help.
The world building was fine, if a bit info dumpy. It definitely suffered from “first book in a series” syndrome with lots of characters introduced who barely affected the plot, though it does end with a clear antagonist for the rest of the series. As for other cons, I didn’t care for the fact that Jules had a klepto streak. For the most part, Jules comes off as smart and driven (if mostly coin-operated), so I couldn’t understand why she’d put herself in that kind of risky situation repeatedly. There’s also some miscommunications and ultimatums on both sides (sure, you could eavesdrop and take things out of context, or you could, you know, talk like mature adults).
Overall, 3.5 stars, and I’ll definitely be picking up the next book. I’m very curious to see where the attraction between Eden and Rook goes.
I received an advance review copy of this book from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.