MB has established an amazingly detailed world within her Guardians series. And, unlike certain other paranormal romance authors *coughJRWardcough*, she has managed to write five books and several novellas without imploding the constructs of that world or completely undermining her own mythology. In this fifth book, the larger conflict is still the struggle between good and evil, but with a twist that has developed in recent books: in addition to protecting humans' free will from the seduction of Lucifer's demons and nosferatu, the Guardians are struggling with the schism among demons: Lucifer vs. Belial for the throne of hell, with other supernaturals taking sides. That's a huge oversimplification of a very intricate political conflict. For much better information, check out the primer here.
The heroine and hero of Demon Forged are Irena and Alejandro. Irena is one of the oldest remaining Guardians, once a Roman slave, and her gift is the ability to shape and control metal. Alejandro, once a Spanish grande, has the ability to call fire. Four hundred years ago, Irena made a bargain with a demon to save Alejandro (or Olek, as she thinks of him). Although she survived the bargain, Irena retreated from their relationship and did not see or speak to Alejandro for two hundred years; for another two hundred years, they've had only a professional relationship...until the events of Demon Forged bring them into prolonged, close contact, forcing them to confront their emotions and communicate with each other.
The external conflict of DF? Well, it all begins in Rome, where Irena and Alejandro are led (by a vampire acquaintance) to a church in which a fellow Guardian is being held prisoner and tortured by nosferatu. Although the Rome action is relevant, it's really a prelude for what happens when they return to San Francisco, where the Guardians' Special Investigations office is located. The SI action kicks off with a prophecy from an enigmatic ally of the Guardians, and Irena & Alejandro are sent to protect a human...why and from whom are not clear at the beginning, but of course it involves demons and other bad guys.
The world building/community and political machinations of the demons are my favorite parts. All the book is well-written and well-paced, but the personal conflict - a 400 year old fialure to communicate -- frustrated me. As much as I enjoyed Irena & Alejandro's ultimate reunion and resolution of their conflict, I wondered what would happen when the next big conflict arose -- would they communicate or close off again?
B+ from me.
The next book, Demon Blood, is sitting on my coffee table, waiting to be picked up.