Guard: Dark Guard / Cyborg Guard (Galactic Gladiators: House of Rone, #5) By Anna Hackett

Read & download Guard: Dark Guard / Cyborg Guard (Galactic Gladiators: House of Rone, #5)

GUARD gives us two novellas in the GALACTIC GLADIATORS: HOUSE OF RONE series as well as a short story about how Magnus and Jax escaped their cyborg military program and moved to Cathargo. I admit I wasn't as invested in these stories and I think the overall repetition of the plot is starting to wear on me. I did like the second novella, CYBORG GUARD, more because Xias and Seren were fun and flirty. 181 Finding love and freedom

When you're raised to not have feelings by your father... realizing you're alone. The only way to survive is to never feel. No joy, no love....until you meet the one.
You won't be disappointed reading the Guard. 181 Originally published at Reading Reality

This fifth book in the House of Rone spinoff of the Galactic Gladiators series is a collection of short works, much as Rogue and Hunter were for the original series. In fact, VERY much as Hunter was, as both books contain works that were previously published in the utterly marvelous Pets in Space anthologies.

Which means that I’ve read and reviewed one of the three stories in this collection before. Specifically Dark Guard. I loved it, not just for the familiar setting, but particularly for its feline hero – even if the feline, like many of the members of the House of Rone, is a cyborg.

The second entry in Guard is a VERY short story, House of Rone: Beginnings. When I read Beginnings it felt very, make that extremely, familiar. But I’m not certain if that’s because I’ve read it before, or if it’s because the origin story of the House of Rone has been told, although not in this much detail, before. Both Magnus and Jaxer refer to the events that brought them to Kor Magna fairly often, particularly in their respective books, Cyborg and Sentinel.

So Beginnings FEELS familiar, even if I haven’t read it before. And I’m saying that in a good way. Everyone loves a good origin story – unless it gets rebooted too many times too close together. (I’m looking at you, Spiderman). But we all tell ourselves origin stories, stories that we repeat over and over, like the story about how we met a spouse/partner, how we met a best friend, memorable events in family history.

And that’s what Beginnings feels like. It’s the story that creates the House of Rone, even though none of that was envisioned at the start. It’s Magnus discovering that his cyborg implants have not destroyed his heart after all, and that even if he never planned to save himself, he can’t let a friend be killed. And in saving Jaxer, he saves himself and every single soul that the House of Rone rescued after that. It all comes back to this one event, this one story, and it’s lovely to get it in detail.

The other new story, Cyborg Guard, was definitely new. I really liked it because it presents different perspectives on the House of Rone, explores seldom seen variations of the romance patterns in this series, AND pushes the action forward in the quest to rescue the last Earth-human survivor still in captivity with the evil Edull.

The Edull remind me of the Jawa in Star Wars, only taller and more disgusting. Still sandsucking scrap merchants and experimenters. Although I don’t think we’ve ever seen the Jawa incorporate organic parts into their creations – while the Edull certainly do. The Edull are conducting experiments like the Nazis, just without the racial component. The Edull will use anyone in their experiments.

What I enjoyed about the romance in Cyborg Guard is that it was just a bit different from the patterns that have generally been followed in both the Galactic Gladiators and the House of Rone series.

The Cyborg Guard of the title is Seren, one of the female cyborgs who are part of the House of Rone. Unlike many of the cyborgs we’ve met previously, Seren’s suppression of her emotions is training rather than programming. She FEELS emotion, but she’s been taught to rigorously suppress it – kind of like a Vulcan.

(It’s rare to be able to mix Star Wars references and Star Trek references in the same review. Achievement Unlocked!)

Another thing that makes this romance a bit different is that the person Seren is guarding is Xias, one of the non-cyborg members of the House of Rone. Cyborgs are not allowed to compete in the Kor Magna Arena – as they certainly do have an unfair advantage. So the House of Rone has a number of unenhanced members who compete under their banner. Xias is their champion.

While both Seren and Xias are warriors, Seren sees Xias as more than a bit of a showboat, someone who competes because they love the attention – and revel in it. When their mission to retrieve a map of the Edull compound goes completely pear-shaped, Seren is finally able to see that none of her assumptions about Xias were true – except the one about whether or not he’s good in bed. That one was right on the money. And once Seren discovers the man hiding behind the showboat, she’s all in – not just for the sex but eventually for the love that she never believed she was capable – or worthy – of.

Escape Rating A-: All in all, this was a VERY fun entry in this long-running series. It had a whole bunch of elements that I just loved. I’m always a sucker for a good cat story, I love a well-done origin story and I really enjoyed seeing a romance break the established pattern for a series. AND we got to see the other side of the House of Rone, so a real treat all the way around! 181 This is a nice mix of easy to read stories. The first one was originally published in Pets in Space. The other two are original to the series. One is from the past before any either of the Houses were established. The last gives a lead up to the next book in the series. Easy and fast reading. Fun to visit and a nice read in this time of staying home. 181 A very Satisfied 4 to 4.5 Stars.

Oct 2022 - This was my second (complete) read of GUARD,#5 - a 3-in-1 book containing a Short Story and 2 novellas. I enjoy the world building, the conflicts and the characters in Hackett’s novels (although these characters get more sexy times in a week than anybody I know - lol). I find the Rone series (as the others I’ve read) a good, quick “escape” read. They are light, enjoyable and a useful venting mechanism- since the Good Guys always Win, get their HEA and the Evil Bad Guys reap their just reward (either humiliation or a much deserved death).

UPDATE August 2020 -
I’ve now read the entire book GUARD, House of Rone #5 (with a Rone “Beginnings” short Story plus 2 novellas). I’ve added here reviews for both the intro/prequel short story HOUSE OF RONE BEGINNINGS and the novella CYBORG GUARD which I had not previously read or reviewed. BTW, I loved this entire collection of stories! - fast moving, quick reading Space Opera fun, for readers that, like me, occasionally want to escape far, far away from today’s reality with a bit of steamy/sweet romance. 😁

Short Story #2 - The short story HOUSE of RHONE BEGINNINGS is a wonderful introductory/prequel to the HOUSE of RONE series. It begins with terminally injured Cyborg Soldier #196 or Jaxer/Hero#2, on the day he is to be terminated. His mentor and only friend Magnus/MMC & Hero#1, called Soldier #47, who later becomes Magnus Rone Imperator of the House of Rone, intercedes and rescues Jaxer setting them both on a course of desertion yet new possible beginnings. This is NOT A ROMANCE but rather the introduction to two male main characters that each get their own story & romance separately elsewhere (Magnus = Galactic Gladiators series, Cyborg book#20; and Jaxer = House of Rone series, Sentinel, book#1) in the 2 connected series both by Anna Hackett. I have read all but 1 (recently released Weapons Master/sum 2020) in the House of Rone series but none of the Galactic Gladiator series books yet. I loved getting an early & formative peek at both characters (Magnus & Jaxer) who feature regularly in the House of Rone series. I definitely plan on picking up additional personal favorites in the Galactic Gladiator series, if not all of them. Anna Hacckett’s novels are fast moving, action-packed sometimes Space Opera, normally Romance, quick reading adventures! I have read other books in her other series as well - Great fun!

Seren/MFC has been a resident of the House of Rone for the past few yrs since first arriving in an escape pod as the only known survivor of a deadly virus that desolated her home planet. The daughter of a cyborg warrior-trainer among a race that valued intelligence, strength, warrior skills, dedication and discipline, Seren had been trained to fight from childhood. Due to her unique heritage, Seren can not only fight but can also teleport short distances invisibly. She is the only woman among the select few elite and dedicated House of Rone cyborg warriors.
Xias/MMC and his younger sister grew up as orphans on the streets of Carthago. For many years, Xias fought in informal fights, trying to earn enough money for himself and his sister. Xias eventually succeeded in raising himself in position to where he is the lead gladiator and fan favorite in the House of Rone gladiators - training and fighting now more for tourist/public entertainment. In CYBORG GUARD, Seren and Xias are sent on a mission by Magnus, Imperator/head of the House of Rone, to collect detailed information locating the last of the abducted human Helios survivors. Xias and Seren leave expecting possible difficulty, and they find it. This is fast moving short novella, a fun addition to the House of Rone series. I enjoyed it. :D

I am reviewing below only Dark Guard, the 1st of 3 stories in the book Guard:House of Rone by Anna Hacket The novella Dark Guard was also in Pets in Space/#4 - which is where I read it.

DARK GUARD - Calla Ryss/FMC, a humanoid not from earth has been rescued from slavers just prior to the beginning of the story by incredibly powerful and gifted Warrior Cyborgs from the House of Rone. The action in Dark Guard takes place on this alien desert planet. Calla nearly dies during her rescue but a foreign cyborg with telekinetic powers/MMC, disowned & tormented since 5yrs, but now a member of the House of Rone, keeps her alive with his special abilities until a healer can make repairs. The novella Dark Guard is about Calla, after her rescue a bit of a cyborg herself, and Zaden’s growing relationship during a time of continued risk.

This was my first Anna Hackett novel and I enjoyed it. The action moved quickly and I completed the novel in a couple hours. I immediately searched for additional titles to see what else is available in this and other series. There are 4 previous books in the House of Rone series. Dark Guard is the last title - at this time. The author recommends reading the books in order. I was able to follow the plot and understand the secondary characters as I read, but this does seem to be the type of novel that would be even better enjoyed when read in the proper order, which I intend to do in the future.

I recommend the House of Rone novels to readers who enjoy Space Opera, action/adventure novels, romance suspense, HEAs and are okay with a good does of steam. Dark Guard had a clever cyborg cat in it, as well. I enjoyed this Space Opera novella but readers who prefer Clean material should skip this series.

Reader Cautions -
Violence - Attempted abductions. Sci-fI fighting. PG/PG-13 level. Not overly graphic.
Profanity - Yes. Strong language used rarely/infrequently. Dark Guard has none - Not in English or any earth language.
Sexual situations- Yes & No. None in the Short Story BEGINNINGS. Several “sweet but steamy“ scenes in the 2 novellas - less in Dark Guard than Cyborg Guard. If such situations offend readers, I would not recommend. 181


4 Stars 181 Another fabulous romp with these Gladiators but this time there's a difference because not only do we get to revisit Dark Guard which some readers might have already because it was in Pets In Space but there's also new material. I was extremely happy to read House of Rone :Beginnings because although really just a quick snippet in many ways it answered questions I had. Best of all though is the new short story Cyborg Guard because who doesn't want to read about a strong but lonely heroine getting a very happy ending ?
As usual everything here is well written and full of emotional content but never fear there's plenty of action
This voluntary take is of an advanced copy and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair 181 Series: Galactic Gladiators: House of Rone #5
Rating: 4 stars - It was really good

Dark Guard:
This story was previously published in the anthology Pets in Space 4.

Calla Ryss escapes the Edull and ends up with the cyborgs of the House of Rone. She is struggling to find her place and fight her attraction to Zaden. Zaden is a powerful telekinetic who uses cybernetic enhancements to control his powers. He is instantly attracted to Calla but is afraid his power will become a problem. Their relationship was quick and steamy and I loved it.

House of Rone: Beginnings
This is a very short story showing what pushed Magnus to leave the Orionix Military Program and take Jaxer with him. While short, it was very impactful and it makes me want to go back and read Magnus and Jaxer’s stories again.

Cyborg Guard
Soren den Stal is a cyborg fighter for the House of Rone. She also has the unique ability to teleport. Magnus gives her a mission to retrieve a map of the Edull’s arena. Unfortunately, he pares her with the annoying, sexy, showy, gladiator champion Xias. While working together to obtain the map, they finally give into their attraction.

I really enjoyed this story. Soren was a very interesting, unique and kickass female. I loved that she could teleport. Xias was a cocky, handsome, and persistent gladiator. He was just the kind of man Soren needed. He wasn’t afraid to push her to feel and be emotional while she helped him let go of the past. I really can’t wait for the next book, and I am sad that it will be the last one.

This review was originally posted at Red-Haired Ash Reads. 181 The first story.... wow!!
I love loved the telekinetic hero who was so immune to emotions but still overcame all the obstacles for heroine. She was a strong willed alien survivor. This story had little more action and was longer than the second one. Also an interesting matchmaking cyborg pet.

The second one was about the huge, jovial, showy, House of Rone champion Xias and grumpy, teleportation capable, emotionless cyborg Seren ( loved her tattoos too). I loved the characterization in this. Seren was the female version of weapon master Maxon.
Their adventure was also done well.

Still the author broke my heart saying, the final book in the series will be out in July. Why why, Ms Anna Hackett?? This is my favorite series. I sincerely hope she will start another spin off series. 181 Aha! 3 in one! LOL
Short and nice 181

From the dangerous desert sands to the deadly glitz of the city, the lawless desert planet of Carthago is filled with lethal cyborg gladiators risking it all for the women who capture their hearts. GUARD contains two novellas and one short story all set in the Galactic Gladiators: House of Rone series.

Dark Guard: lethal cyborg Zaden will do whatever it takes to guard and protect beautiful, sweet Calla from mysterious attackers.

NOTE: previously released as part of the 2019 Pets in Space Anthology

Abducted from her homeworld, Calla Ryss has spent months in a cell, surviving her captors—the metal-scavenging Edull. Deep in the deserts of the lawless planet of Carthago, she knows that there is no chance of escape. The only thing that gets her through is her friendship with a fellow abductee, a woman stolen from Earth. But everything changes when they are rescued by the bone-chillingly dangerous cyborgs of the House of Rone, and Calla finds herself staring into eyes of metallic silver.

Zaden lives for the House of Rone. His cyborg enhancements help him keep a ruthless hold on his emotions, and loyalty is the only thing he allows himself to feel. And the rare spurt of annoyance at the cyborg hunting cat that refuses to leave him alone. But when sweet, lovely Calla falls into his arms, Zaden starts to experience emotions he’s never felt before…which is dangerous for a cyborg whose enhancements are in place not to increase his lethal abilities, but leash them.

When mysterious attackers attempt to snatch Calla, Zaden vows to be her guard and keep her safe—with some unsolicited help from a certain cyborg cat. But there is more at stake than just Calla’s safety, and as she and Zaden are drawn into an intoxicating storm of emotion, they will risk their hearts, their lives, and their freedom to rescue another innocent captive.

Cyborg Guard: on a dangerous mission into the desert, female cyborg loner Seren must act as bodyguard for champion gladiator Xias—a man who pushes every one of her buttons.

NOTE: this is a BRAND-NEW, never-before-published story

Seren dan Stal was once the pride of the Dan Nonian Warrior Academy, but when her people were wiped out by a virulent virus, she is the lone survivor. Now, her home is the desert world of Carthago, and she works hard to honor her father and her planet by being the best cyborg fighter at the House of Rone. She has no time for fun or frivolity, and that especially includes the always-smiling showman gladiator Xias.

Xias grew up on the streets of Kor Magna and lost the most important fight of all—protecting his sister. He vowed to become a champion for her and to never lose again. He commands the sands of the desert arena, is loved by the spectators, and would die for his imperator, Magnus Rone. But then he finds himself becoming far too fascinated by a prickly, dangerous, and gorgeous female cyborg.

In the desert city of Kaffit, Xias and Seren must work together on a mission for Magnus. Xias pushes Seren to feel, and she inspires his need to protect and pleasure. Together, they uncover a scorching-hot hunger that won’t be denied. Now, they just need to survive long enough to see if that hunger can grow into love.

Includes the short story – House of Rone: Beginnings

Soldier 47 is the most lethal cyborg in the Orionix Military Program. But when a young cyborg, Jaxer, is slated for deactivation, Soldier 47--also known as Magnus Rone--will risk everything he knows to save his friend. Guard: Dark Guard / Cyborg Guard (Galactic Gladiators: House of Rone, #5)