Burning Alive: Sentinel Wars #1

Whoever she was, he was keeping her.

Burning Alive
Shannon K Butcher
Sentinal Wars, book one
ebook, 254 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Onyx Books
ISBN 9781101046586

They are the Sentinels.

Three races descended from ancient guardians of mankind, each possessing unique abilities in their battle to protect humanity against their eternal foes-the Synestryn. Now, one warrior must fight his own desire if he is to discover the power that lies within his one true love.

Helen Day is haunted by visions of herself surrounded by flames, as a dark-haired man watches her burn. So when she sees the man of her nightmares staring at her from across a diner, she attempts to flee-but instead ends up in the man's arms. There, she awakens a force more powerful and enticing than she could ever imagine. For the man is actually Theronai warrior Drake, whose own pain is driven away by Helen's presence.

Together, they may become more than lovers-they may become a weapon of light that could tip the balance of the war and save Drake's people...

Damn Goodreads and their too good to resist Recommendations feature. When this series popped up, and looked oh so yummy, I had to snatch it up. All eight of them.

Helen has long suffered a vision of her death in which she burns alive as a man, all the while smiling, does nothing to aid her.

When she sees that same man across the diner where she and her elderly friend are having dinner, the woman can't help but stare at him in her moment of panic. And it doesn't take long for Drake to take notice.

As a Theronai, Drake, along with Thomas and Zach, have lived centuries fighting against Synestryns (demons and monsters) in a never ending effort to protect humankind. Earth is but a gateway to the world Athanasia, and the Synestryns want in. The Theronai bear a "lifemark" which resembles a tattoo of a tree that covers their torso that was but a seed at their birth and grows as they age. Until, ultimately, it withers. And as the leaves fall, they know their soul will wither and fade as well.

Their only hope is to find a Theronai female that can channel the power that they spend their entire life harvesting and storing. They themselves cannot use the power, only their bonded mate. Who can also ease the pain of their long lived existence and the battles and loss that have come with it.

When we meet Thomas, he has but one leaf left.

Drake was... all right. In that overbearing, man-handling, alpha male kind of way. But curse him for faulting Logan for taking advantage of Helen's ignorance in order to get her blood. Drake certainly had no qualms about doing the exact same thing to get her to take his luceria. And thank you, Paul, for bringing that to everybody's attention.

Logan... That Sanguinar had me from the moment he opened his mouth.

Zach... Tons of fun to be had with that guy. Too bad his book isn't until the third installment. He and Lexi do get their start here though. And my, what a start it is!

Thomas... Damn. He deserved better. He deserved a story. He certainly deserved a better death. Thomas loses the last of his leaves and knows he doesn't have much time left. He pushes Drake to go after their fallen brother's sword (which is the plot of the whole book), but in doing so, it pushes Drake to put Helen in a position she is in no damn way prepared for, and it costs Thomas his life. And all for nothing. How does a guy live over four hundred years die by getting eaten by a worm?! Bad form, Ms. Butcher.

In this world, with these races, a Theronai female may be the destined mate for multiple men, but she has to choose. Only one can claim her and thus be saved by her. Drake is one option for Helen. Paul, is another.

Many of the reviews I read (and I do need to stop doing that!) bashed this book in one way or another. One such reviewer quoted a few times how things didn't match up. For instance, there was a line where Drake thought how much he loved her voice, especially when she was crying out in release. The reviewer claimed they hadn't been intimate yet, and even checked back to be sure of herself. Well, she was wrong. They had. Whether a failure of attentiveness, or the lack of memorable quality to the scene, it is what it is. I certainly don't mean to attack the reviewer in pointing this out. God knows, I miss more than my share of the details all the time. It was just something that hit me kinda hard.

Another thing many judged harshly was Helen herself. She wasn't nearly as annoying as others I've read and really, the worst part of her was her name. Helen Day. The girl spent almost her entire life believing she was going to die by fire. Hell, I'd be a nutcase, too.

Burning Alive does a great job in setting the stage for the rest of the series even though, in the end, you'll find the entire story was a distraction from what was really happening somewhere in the shadows. So yes, the sentiment "What the fuck did I just read?" was definitely shared here.

3 out of 5 stars.

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