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The Protector

(Guardsmen #1)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  759 ratings  ·  146 reviews
Guardsmen are always matched in a bonded pair. The Protector can shift into a weredog, and the human partner is his Handler. They are incredibly rare and highly valued, but people also fear them for their mystical abilities. No Protector in living memory has outlived his Handler—until Alex Taylor.

Now a widower, Alex lives a lonely half-life and faces day after day of grie
ebook, 250 pages
Published May 5th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published May 4th 2014)
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Sara It's been a while since you posted this and I'm not sure if you've found it but the sequel is out.

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3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  759 ratings  ·  146 reviews

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May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it

From the blurb I was expecting something completely different. I thought this would be some kind of fantasy story but it's not, it's set during modern day in an alternate version of the world we live in now. There's some stellar world-building here with the Guardsman pairs: Protector/Handler and how that mythology is integrated and peppered into our own history.

Protectors are dog shifters and Handlers are their partners that interpret their actions when they're shifted. Pairs live together a
Jenni Lea
May 17, 2014 rated it really liked it

3.5 stars

So I picked up this book because there was knotting (KNOTTING!) in it and there was no way I was going to pass up a knotting book. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.

It was for the most part a fascinating book. The writing is solid, although it doesn't have enough contractions in it. It dragged a little in the middle of the book when they just wouldn't stop fighting (ENOUGH ALREADY!) but it picked back up in the last quarter to give an entertaining and exhilarating climax. I
BWT (Belen)
Aug 21, 2015 rated it liked it
3 Stars (Story = 2 Stars; Narration = 4 Stars)

I would have actually rated this much higher if it weren't for two things: gross stupidity and the ending. Would you like to hear of this? Well, then, kiddies, gather up close for I have another story to tell you...

Our story actually begins really well. Alex Taylor is a "Protector" guardian, able to shift into dog form. Alex is super special for a great many reasons, some of which are that he first presented as a guardian at eight years old (well bef
* A Reader Obsessed *
3.5 Stars

This had great angsty goodness.

Marcus is the rare Handler that has yet to find his bond mate. At 26 years old, he's basically given up his dream, as most Handlers find their mate by age 20. He's ecstatic when he's finally matched, only to have his hopes and desires shattered by a man who has no interest in him whatsoever.

Alex has been barely living, mourning his dead partner. He is the only known shifter to have survived the death of their Handler and the last thing he wants is someone
Lilia Ford
I found this both highly readable and quite uneven. On the plus, I really, really loved the set up. I'm a huge fan of M/M shifter stories, or I would be if they didn't usually suck--of all the popular genres out there this one suffers the most from the laziest of lazy generic plotting and unbelievably sloppy writing. So I was doubly impressed that West created a fresh, original set-up that avoided the usual cliches. The characterization was also very strong, both with the leads, Marcus and Alex, ...more
Dammit. And I was gonna give it two stars.

OK, let me update my feels on this (I slept on this). Nooope. Not much has changed.

I felt that if Alex wasn't so blinded by his grief and anger that he would have been a different person altogether. But shit, he was a dick through the majority of the book. I could not get past the treatment that he dished out to Marcus and others in the story. Especially Marcus. Although Marcus seemed like a few trauma coping sessions were needed for some of his demons
Caroline Brand
Audio re-read January 2017

One of my favourites to listen to on audio



This book was such a good surprise! It is an absolute gem!
A very different take on shifters that will totally drag you and not let you back out again until the end. I started this late in the evening and thought I would just read a couple of chapters before bed. Yeah, right! It was nearly morning before I put it down, finishing it in one sitting was th
Feb 17, 2015 rated it liked it
I thought the premise of the book - a world where there are werewolves/shape shifting dogs bound to handlers - might be interesting and in a way it was though it made the world too simplistic. I did keep reading as I liked the characters and the story was not bad. It drew a lot longer than was necessary though. An almost 10 hour audiobook could have had a lot more action! Besides, the solution of the mystery was obvious somewhere in the middle of the book.

Still an enjoyable read. I'll definitek
Chris, the Dalek King
Marcus sunk lower into himself. Everything about Theo sounded perfect. Marcus knew he was good-looking, but that seemed to be the only thing he had over Theo, who had been smart and kind and loving and adored. John leaned over, putting his hand on Marcus’s leg.

“Hey, it’s not a competition. You’re Alex’s bondmate now, end of story.”

Marcus glared at him. “Don’t fool yourself. It’s a damn competition, all right, and I’m already losing to the dead guy.”

No Protector has ever lived past the death of
Angsty and emotional - just what I craved.

There's no love lost between Marcus and Alex. Their bond was unexpected, unwanted and very inconvenient. Alex has lost his soulmate and doesn't let anyone near him, living a lonely miserable life full of bittersweet memories that make it even harder to move on. Marcus has devoted all his life to studies and had resigned to the fact that he will never find his Protector. He really didn't need a complication and a heartbreak that is Alex Taylor. After all
Apr 30, 2014 added it
Shelves: m-m, dnf
DNF @ 92%. Yep.

I went into this really psyched because I *really* dug the author's sci-fi pirate-y story in the anthology Cross Bones, and I'm a SUCKER for a forced bonding storyline. (I love that trope!)

It started out pretty well, but got bogged down for me with a lot of over-exposition to explain the word-building, often breaking in between paragraphs or dialogue to explain how the world worked.

And the pacing dipped because the MCs were very unhappy about their forced bonding for what felt lik
Ryan Loveless
May 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
(Obligatory mention: Cooper West is a friend.)

Having been a fan of Cooper West's writing since before she went pro, I was so excited when I saw this on Dreamspinner's Coming Soon page. See, Cooper went and did some awesome RL stuff that didn't give her much time for writing over the past few years. Which was probably good for me because I don't normally read shifter stories, but I was so thirsty for something new from her that I snatched this up and inhaled it.

And I loved it. All the things tha
Tully Vincent
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Well-written and enjoyable read with a fascinating premise revolving around one of my favorite things... DOGS! This had a ton of potential. The author created a captivating world where Guardmen pairs (Protector dog and Handler) live intertwined lives. I loved all the history behind this AU world.

I adored both Alex and Marcus before they bonded and was rooting so much for them to get together, could hardly wait for it to happen, and the initial bonding was lovely. BUT once bonded, it became diff
I was going to give it a one star, but now that I'm thinking about it, I think I kinda liked the beginning, and that's it, just the beginning, then things got funny, and boring, and the characters didn't make sense. The MCs are irritating, they were too selfish I don't even know when this love thing started between them?! And there are some interfering friends, I don't like it when two people's relationship works out by supervising friends. I really believe Alex wasn't ready for a new bond AT AL ...more

Did I like it? Did I hate it?

Hmmmm, this is a very hard one for me to rate. There were some really cool aspects to this story. I appreciated the creative way the author constructed a world where humans and animals bonded - and the alternate (but parallel) reality to our world today. It was like traveling to a parallel universe where dogs and people had a strange and symbiotic relationship.

But most of the time I was just saying..

Here is my real problem with the book. I felt edgy and uncomfortable
This story had a very interesting take on shifters. Some people manifest into protectors (shifter dogs) around puberty, others develop into Handlers. They go to a special school (I'm under the impression they don't have much of a choice. No one seemed to mind but I wonder how Big Brother would react to a kid who said he didn't want to participate) and learn how to work together, then end up bonding to one another and pairing off. (view spoiler) ...more
May 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Terrific concept, the only reason that I didn't rate it 5 stars was because I had to wait for the whole freaking book for the two main characters to be together at last. I think it went a little bit overboard the drama for this poor couple. The author must enjoyed make them suffered for most of the 250 pages.
Aug 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommended to Laura by: Brandilyn
Shelves: shifter, action, cops, mystery
Alex is completely unlikable for 90% of the story. His bad attitude was a downer through most of the book.
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: shifters, mm, romance
I put most of this behind a spoiler tag but I honestly don't think any of what I said would constitute as a spoiler. On the other hand, I am perfectly happy with someone telling me what is going to happen before I read or watch something, so I could be wrong. I don't say anything about the mystery/bad guys and I don't let out any big surprises, most of it is just talk about the relationship between the MCs. Soooo, my point is, I think what is under the spoiler shouldn't be a problem but if you a ...more
May 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love the idea of two people being bonded together, linked so closely that not even death can separate them. Alex is a protector, a dog shifter, his handler Theo was murdered in front of his eyes 3 years before, but Alex didn't die with Theo, as was expected, he became the protector who lived (corny I know, sorry) a medical anomaly, living a half-life mourning the only man he'll ever love,

Marcus is an unbonded handler in his mid-twenties. Faced with the prospect of never finding his mate, as bo
May 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2-star, dnf, shifter
This had a little kernel of an interesting story that kept me reading it longer than I should have. There was just way too much circling over the same ground: explaining the Handler/Protector dynamic and how theirs isn't working and this isn't what either of them want but they're bonded so they have to deal with it except you're ruining my life, no you're ruining my life, but you don't understand how awful this is for me, well it's awful for me too! And on and on. I kept waiting for something to ...more
Katrina Passick Lumsden
The premise of this story is really cool, but Alex was such a raging bitch, I couldn't really like him or enjoy any of the ensuing drama.
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was absolutely amazing. How did I not know about this series? I simply could not put it down. I love shifters, and I love when they are bonded pairs, but man was it heartbreaking. From page one when one of the bonded pair is killed it just takes off and rips out your heart before slowly putting it back together again.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into and trying to figure out the mystery of why the bond broke at death, and Alex did not die when Theo was killed, was written so wel
4.5 Stars ~ As most of you know, I'm quite a fan (cough, cough) of shifter stories. 'The Protector' by Cooper West is far and away different than just a shifter story. The author has created an incredibly fascinating and complex world which, once I entered, I didn't want to leave. The concept of Guardsmen, a mystical bonded pair who handle search and rescue, criminal forensics, law enforcement, and a number of other specialized jobs, was interesting all on its own. Add to it that Guardsmen are a ...more
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brooklyn by: Denise
Shelves: romance-mm, audiobook
It’s been three years since Alex’s bond-mate Handler, Theo, was murdered and he hasn’t let go. He wasn’t supposed to live. In all of history, no Protector has survived the death of their Handler. Until Alex. So he spends his days in grief and anger over his situation. When he accidentally and surprisingly bonds with Marcus, he lashes out, refusing to acknowledge or accept Marcus or their bond. Their friends try to convince Alex to give Marcus a chance, but he doesn’t listen.

Alex is an utter ass
Feb 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a really different kind of shifter storyline, I loved it and found the plot quite novel and very refreshing in itself. It's a bit like The THIRDS series in that respect but still VERY different and funny while sad at the same time.

It's well written, with no sloppy mess here but it lost half a stars for the, sappy speak towards the end.

The MC and then MC's are quite numerous in number and well written characters.

I don't want to give anything away but if you like that, then you
Wow, just wow.

This wasn't without flaws, really, some of the ( really fantastic) worldbuilding went away unusued., as if the universe had taken on a role as yet another character... And there was a relly big loose thread still dangling at the end, but all in all rhis was a very satisfying, captivating read. Definitely recommended even if you don't like shifter storys, perhaps just then, as i'm no shifter fan myself but caught up totally in this book.
I liked the idea of it, but the middle third of the book with all the repetitive squabbling? That could go.

If there are more books in this Protector/Handler world though, I am so there.
May 15, 2014 marked it as gave-up
...I don't think I quite understand the universe. There are these people and they do stuff, and clearly there are more of them if there's an Institute, but they can't use them and have to rely on Alex? this like they're really rare so they get assigned to special jurisdictions and apparently there's no way to request the services of these special people from a local jurisdiction or something? Or was this not considered high enough priority for that to be possible? It just sounds like it's ...more
4 stars

Synopsis: Guardsmen come in twos: the Protector, who is a dog shifter, and the Handler, who is human. They bonded, and if the Handler dies, the Protector dies as well. But when Alex's Handler dies, he doesn't. He has to live with being a freak and without the love of his life. Three years after watching his partner die, and waiting to die himself, Alex has eked a sort of life out for himself. He is slowly getting back in to doing a little police work, although people are wary of unbonded
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