The only male among four sisters, Michael Drummond is no stranger to women’s strength and formidable will. His Dublin pub, the Skin & Bones, is his refuge, a reassuringly masculine retreat. Until a fierce woman warrior from another realm bursts into his life, bringing with her a battle between good and evil…and an explosive dose of desire.
The first and only of her kind, Ash is a lone female gargoyle, a creature destined to protect mankind from Demons determined to unleash their darkest forces. But her arrival on Earth is more confusing than she expected: her bone-deep instinct to do battle is matched only by her untamed attraction to stubborn, stalwart Drum. If they manage to keep the world safe, can they turn the passion crackling between them into a love that will withstand the test of time?
Allow me to introduce Drum. He is part of an Irish family who have what I can only describe as 'talents'. Powers, abilities if you will, that his family have found pretty useful. Yet when Drum and his young sister Maeve get caught up with Ash, it's clear she is going to need more than just human help, she will need to find her Warden and luckily Drum has the ability to somehow find things so perhaps a person won't be too difficult? It's going to have to be quick though as the Order of Eternal Darkness have just decided to step up their game!
I really liked the idea of a warrior woman stepping up and upping the ante. Yet I just found the first half of Hard to Handle slightly less frantically paced than usual. It took me a while to realise what was wrong; and then after a situation occurs that necessitates other Guardians and Wardens getting involved, I knew what had niggled away at me. You see, Ash whilst brave and driven isn't as snarky or funny as previous heroines. So, when they appear and it's all let’s get cheeky, wind each other up, and generally be humourous whilst trying to save the world, the lighter touch just worked.
So much more happening in the second half which definitely worked for me. Drum and Ash are clearly going to be a good team but he did kind of spring things on her. One minute she's a stone creature who can become flesh and the next she's being kissed by an inebriated Drum with no idea why he wants to kiss her! A slight spoiler in that their physical relationship takes off quickly with the innocent Ash suddenly giving barrel racing cowgirls a run for their money and I was kind of tempted to shout yeehaw!
I did enjoy the story and I'm left wondering if any of Drew’s siblings will feature again. Maeve was certainly interesting but the rest of Drew’s family with the possible exception of his mum, didn't seem to be as vivid which given their 'talents' seemed a shame. Luckily though with two Guardians and their mates popping in, it turned out to be a book that entertained me and Ash finally got to see love could conquer all.
These are my voluntary thoughts on an advance reader copy and is my honest opinion.