I was lucky enough to receive a free eCopy of this book in return for an honest review. The following comments are just my opinion..
The Guardian by Lydia Rodriguez-Clement is about the love between an angel and human girl, with a war brewing in the background. Jacob, a 7th-level angel, has been sent to help fight and reports to his new post, under the lead of Captain Caleb. Among their primary enemies are fallen ones and demon dogs, which attack now and then. Unknowing of any of this is a young, twenty three year old girl, Sarah. Her life, until this point, has consisted mostly of church, school and her intentions to become a Pediatric Nurse. In the beginning of the book, she is just starting work at an ice cream shop. Her friend, and now colleague, Genevieve Butler had helped get her the job. Jacob, having taken human form, takes a place as a customer. From that moment on, he realises he's connected to her and deeply infatuated. Soon after, they begin dating and Sarah soon finds that her life may be at risk and her faith is to be tested.
The book, at its simplest, a book about angels versus demons. However, it's quite an original telling of that sort of plot, based on the types of media I've seen and read. I liked how Jacob and Sarah were sort of drawn to each other and their relationship seemed very much like God's will, as if they really were meant for each other. In many other cases, I have felt that the whole "love at first sight" is a bit tacky. However, it really works well in this book because the things they feel are explained properly and it really does seem like they're meant to be together. I did like that not even Jacob understood the matter, going to ask Caleb for advice on it and the whole human/ guardian relationship aspects. I really quite appreciated the religious aspects of the book. A few of the most heartfelt moments for me was when Sarah was helping using prayer. I felt it to be truly special; that she didn't need any kind of weapon, save for words and a pure heart. In a similar way, I felt that I liked those parts because in reinforced that though she might not have physical strength, she didn't need it in order to help during a war. As for other portions of the plot, I felt like one major plot line sort of got lost towards the end, is her school work. It was mentioned many times that she was going to become a pediatric nurse. Yet, that portion of the plot ends abruptly, without a proper end of its own.
Sarah begins as a very sheltered girl, having only experienced things like school and church. I actually quite liked her character. She's very demure, but also very kind and respectful of others, especially toward her parents. That's actually the thing I liked most about her; she really does try to be a very good person and tries to help others when she can. Her character development is quite strong. Throughout the book, she changes from a demure character to one who is prepared to fight for what she believes in, even at the cost of her own life. I also like that her character changes did not turn for the worse; that she has kept her generosity and goodwill, even taking time to pray for others in need. She is, overall, quite a strong character. Though there are times when she can't protect herself, because of the situations, I don't consider her to be weak. There is not much she can do at those points in time, yet she does the best she can.
As for Jacob, I appreciated that he was also kind of sheltered and had new things to experience in life. Though, having said that, I think that it was also a good idea to have him knowledgeable about the world he's lived in for so long. I thought his collection of artifacts was very sweet. Though, I think he parted with them very easily for someone who had treasured them for so long. To me, I guess some of them were more of an investment than treasured items. I think that his relationship with Sarah was very sweet. I felt that their love for each other was very genuine. I also liked that he had a lot of respect for her and her choices. Despite sort of intruding on her moments with other people and listening in on their conversations, I did appreciate that he didn't invade her mind without good reason. I thought that they were very sweet together and found many moments between them to be very heart warming.
I think that the only character I didn't like was Genevieve, or Gen as Sarah calls her. She's kind of cliche and I don't particularly like that character type in general, anyway. Gen is essentially a party girl, the complete opposite of Sarah, by Sarah's own comment. Gen is very confident, out going and opinionated. I really quite disliked her commenting again and again that Sarah ought to have a boyfriend, and then setting her up with Dominic; I did not really appreciate her meddling in Sarah's life like that. I say this because I felt it especially rude of her; Sarah had enough to worry about in terms of work and school without having to worry about a boyfriend as well. Furthermore, I think it's really Sarah's business if she wants to get a boyfriend or not and, if she doesn't want one, she shouldn't have to get one. Though, at least she was a bearable character for me; later on, her portions in the book dwindle and we don't see much of her later on.
As for the other characters, I felt that I could easily understand their places in the novel. It was easy to see why some of the other angels disapproved of the relationship with Jacob and Sarah and why they might have their various concerns about it. Likewise, I can understand why many characters acted in certain ways. Though both Samuel and Seth were evil, I felt that they acted appropriately for their character types and the plans they had set up thus far. I even liked the mention that Seth had put too much time and effort into his work to give up. It really felt quite fair for them to act in the ways they did.
At some points, languages other than English are used. However, they're reasonably easy to understand, even to a beginner such as myself. One of the things I didn't like is that in some portions, there are moments that rely on convenience. For example, when Jacob first looks for money, he decides to sell of one of his possessions, despite them being very treasured. It just seemed like such an easy decision for him, despite the author mentioning that it was difficult. Soon after he manages to sell it, he mentions looking for an apartment and, conveniently, there are ones on the market in the higher portions of the building. Later on, the priest gives him the name and number of someone who can help and, conveniently, he knows the man because it's his landlord. The point of convenience is sort of a complaint, though I can see why the author has chosen to do this; it makes the story easier to read if we aren't introduced to even more characters than is necessary. Though, it still seems odd that an angel introducing himself to human life has such an easy time getting settled down. I didn't necessarily appreciate that Dominic was incessantly a third wheel to the relationship between Jacob and Sarah, poking his nose in every now and then. I mostly didn't like those bits because I don't always think love triangles work. Though, having said that, I did like that there was a reasonable explanation for his input later on. The one thing I don't understand about Dominic's relationship with Sarah is that they were supposedly childhood friends, having played together many times, and yet she remembers very little of him, even after people have talked to her about it. I can understand that she just might have forgotten, but it just seems unlikely that the pair played together so often and yet she doesn't remember that he was some sort of family friend.
Overall, I liked the book a lot. I felt that many of the moments were very touching. I liked that the relationship between Jacob and Sarah was very genuine and special; I could truly feel their love for each other. I think the overall plot was very well thought out. Though, the plot does rely more on the relationship than the angels versus demons portion. I think that a little bit more plot could have been put towards further explaining the fallen angels and their motives or plans. That's just my opinion, though. I think it's worth 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.