“Guardian” by Carole Cummings

Title: Guardian
Series: Aisling #1
Author: Carole Cummings
Genre: Gay Fantasy
Publisher: DSP Publications
Pages: 270

As he pursues a man who is not what he seems, Constable Dallin Brayden learns the lines between enemy and ally, truth and deception, and conscience and obedience are not only blurred, but malleable.

Constable Dallin Brayden knows who he is, what he’s about, and he doesn’t believe in Fate. “Wilfred Calder” has no idea who he is or what he’s about, and he’s been running from Fate for as long as he can remember. When Wil flees after witnessing a murder, it’s Dallin’s job to pursue him. Along the way, he’s pulled into a maelstrom of ancient myth, fanatical religion, and the delicate politics of a shaky truce between two perpetually warring countries—all of which rests on the slender shoulders of the man he knows is not Wilfred Calder.

Even Dallin’s success proves a hollow victory. Wil is vengeful, rebellious, and lethal, and his tale of magic and betrayal rocks the carefully constructed foundations of Dallin’s world. Suspicious and only half believing, Dallin must question not only his own integrity and his half-forgotten past, but the morality and motives of everyone around him—including those who hold his own country’s fate in their hands.


SOMETIMES THE hardest reviews for me to write are the ones of books I absolutely loved without question. Their flawlessness is something my review could never hope to capture, and in that way, I found the review for Guardian by Carole Cummings extraordinarily hard to write. It’s clear to me and anyone who reads works by Cummings that she has a gift for world building, in the rich detail without overwhelming our senses and other such nuances. Her worlds build upon themselves slowly, blooming with life on the page.

If you want to read fantastic worlds, read Cummings.

If you want to learn to build fantastic worlds, read Cummings.

It’s really that simple.

In most of Cummings’ work, I find a character similar to Wil: scrappy, powerful, and slightly insane; in need of direction or guidance. In nearly all of Cummings’s work I find a character similar to Constable Brayden: stalwart and true; in need of someone to protect. Both characters have a clear agenda and motivations, which are inherently opposing at first. The attraction of opposites could seem like a romantic trope to some, but I feel as if Cummings uses it as a premise on the unity of dialectic pairs. The conflict between her characters creates the willingness for them to change which creates new energy and purpose. It’s a classic story I never get tired of, which is always cast in a new and tantalizing light by our author.

With some fantasy epics broken up into smaller books, there is a worry that each book will not feel complete because it’s too much a part of a larger whole to stand on its own, and I also sometimes worry about cliffhangers. But I didn’t have to with this story. It’s clear from the beginning this work belongs to a longer adventure, while not making you feel bereft at the end. That being said, I’ll eagerly pick up the next book.

On a sexier note, if you’re into bondage, prickly men who maybe have to be broken in with a bit of patience and understanding, and/or a flare of magic with your historical, then this work is definitely for you. Also if you’re a fan gay fantasy or The Wheel of Time, but wish it had been more succinct and gayer, I’d whole-heartedly recommend this. Enjoy!

This review was originally posted to Queer Sci Fi.

Dreamspinner Press–Where Dreams Come True… International publishers of quality gay romantic fiction since 2007. http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

DSP Publications–Off the Beaten Path. Worth the Journey. http://www.dsppublications.com

Harmony Ink Press–LGBTQ+ Young Adult Fiction. http://www.harmonyinkpress.com

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