Exiled (The Protector, #1) - M.R. Merrick I had heard a lot of chatter about this book on Twitter before I finally broke down and bought it. Everything I heard was good, so I figured it would at least be an entertaining read if nothing else. That my dear readers is an understatement. Merrick starts Exiled off with a bang and things don’t slow down much throughout the rest of the book. Not only that, but it’s a great story with spunky characters that have a wealth of personality and new twists on some old paranormal mythology that fit perfectly in the world that Merrick creates. Have I got you convinced? Well then, allow me to continue….Chase’s story just about broke my heart. His exile was particularly cruel because of how it was dealt, but I’m not going to spoil anything for you. You need to learn to loath the character in question all on your own and trust me, you will. Because of his exile, Chase had to fend for himself, with the support of his mother. It made it harder for him to trust anyone other than her, but it also made him stronger than he would have been if he would have remained sheltered within the Circle. He wasn’t a perfect hero, but he grew during Exile and became a totally different person by the end, which made it possible for the reader to relate to him even more.Rayna does have secrets, but not many she is purposely keeping from anyone. Most of her secrets she doesn’t even realize. I’m sure that as the series continues we will find out many more. She is nothing like any other person that Chase has ever met and it’s great watching their friendship and trust grow throughout the book. She could easily be a totally broken character for all she’s been through, but Merrick gives her loyalty and strength to overcome all of it. I think it’s safe to say that Rayna may be one of my favorite YA heroines that I’ve read this year.Merrick also has quite a group of supporting characters that add a lot to the plot of the story and keep it moving. Of course there is Chase’s mother, Tessa; Marcus, another hunter with a mysterious past; Willie (who is probably one of my favorite characters) a demon who can’t catch a break and Vincent, a vampire who is easy to hate. There also others, but besides the ‘bad guys,’ these are the main characters that the story centers around.Merrick’s descriptions of the worlds he has created make it easy to vividly picture the character’s surroundings. I’m always amazed when an author describes a setting that is not like anything that you’ve ever seen. You know that it doesn’t exist anywhere but in the author’s imagination, yet, as you’re reading you get totally lost in the description and take for granted that it’s reality for now and you don’t question it. That’s magic and Exiled is full of it.Exiled starts with a bang and ends with one too. The climax is powerful and I’m warning you now, there will be tears. At least there were for me. It doesn’t exactly end in a cliff hanger, but it is obvious that Chase’s story is far from over. After the Epilogue in Exiled (which evoked more tears by the way) I literally can’t wait until Shift, the next book in this continuing series, is released.Okay readers, I know I gushed. You also know if you’ve read any of my other reviews that I save the gushing for the books that I really, really like and Exiled is obviously one of them. It’s got a little bit of everything for anyone who enjoys YA books. Hopefully my gushing will entice a few of you to give it a try. I, for one and glad I did and sorry I waited so long to read it.