When her father goes missing while opening the gates to the Mayan underworld, Jaid Merritt must put aside her fear of digs and head to the last place he was seen alive, a Mayan dig in Guatemala. There she not only discovers her father’s whereabouts, but a Mayan Warrior and the people her father was working for also hunt her. Rescue and help come from an unexpected corner in the form of Ruin, a Mayan Priest and shifter, cursed to be the Gatekeeper to the Mayan underworld. While trying to undo the damage her father did and finding him, Ruin and Jaid grow closer and an impossible and heartbreaking love story develops.Jaid is brave, smart and stubborn. She lives and breathes Mayan glyphs and has dedicated herself to helping her father in order to gain the approval, love and admiration he’s always withheld from herRuin is broken, loyal and so powerful power just radiates off him. He oozes danger yet at the same time he has this vulnerable side that comes out when he’s with Jaid. He acts impulsively out of the love he has for the people close to him, which leads to unintentionally hurting them, and this eats away at him. I struggled a little bit in the beginning with all the different creatures, characters, terms and world building but that was soon forgotten when I was pulled into a fascinating tale of Mayan mythology and romance. With every turn of the page fascinating events unfolded in developments and revelations that kept me riveted to the pages, enjoying the engaging characters and the thrilling plot. It didn’t take me long to become completely immersed in the story.THE BLOODGATE GUARDIAN is a very dark paranormal romance and thriller and I must say it hovered on the edges of my comfort zone. I am not one who easily reads about gory stuff like people getting gutted, with intestines tumbling out and blood spurting around. There were two scenes in the beginning and one in the end that were pretty graphic in violence but I must say Joely Sue Burkhart pulled it off for me. The ending was action-packed and nerve-wracking for a moment but I got the HEA I was rooting for so for that I thank you, Joely Sue! The ending also set up the next step in the overall story arc that can’t but become ongoing. Though Jaid and Ruin have their HEA the world is about to be devoured by evil, an evil they have to stop somehow and I am very curious to read how.This was my first taste of Joely Sue Burkhart’s non-contemporary/erotic work and I definitely want to read more of it. I absolutely loved the extensive look into the Mayan world of mythology. It was truly fascinating and worth reading through the few violent scenes. THE BLOODGATE GUARDIAN is suspenseful and brilliantly set up. Romance is not the focus of this book in the first part of the book and that was absolutely okay with me as I was entranced and captivated by mythology, magic and plot. However, this doesn’t mean the chemistry between Ruin and Jade wasn’t impressive. It was definitely there, threaded through everything else going on in a subtle, clever way. To me the romance took a secondary role in the first part of the book due to the room needed for world building but it became a very strong emotional element in the last third of the book, which I loved.THE BLOODGATE GUARDIAN once again proves that Carina Press has committed to bringing the reader exceptional, unusual books that definitely aren’t a-dime-a-dozen and books that give the reader an amazing reading experience.