Published March 20th 2012 by Harlequin
There is a secret but deadly battle occurring in the cities of mortal Earth. A race known as the Esri have crossed through heretofore closed and hidden gates. Their King, Rith seeks seven stones that have been hidden in this realm and that will grant him the power he craves. Power that will allow him total dominion of both worlds. It is up to a hand full of special humans known as the Sitheen to vanquish the Esri and save the human race.
Harrison Rand had every reason to hate the Esri. Formerly a computer geek, he has been thrust into the unwanted role of soldier. His daughter has been cursed to live in a catatonic state because of the Esri and are the cause of untold destruction and suffering. When it is left to Harrison to guard the one woman who can close the gates and destroy King Rith, it should be a plum assignment. When said woman is a princess of the Esri…….. not so much.
Princess Ilaria was banished to the Forest of Nightmares by King Rith when he killed her mother, the queen, and usurped her throne. Freed by a human warrior, she is taken to Earth to use the stones and reseal the gates. She agrees of course, but also hides her intention to keep the stones with her upon her return to Esri. This betrayal is necessary for the safety of the humans and the Esri, but could cost her the man fate has chosen to be her soul mate.
It took me a page or two to figure out the who and what of the story since, I hadn't read the prior books (I have since rectified that). As a big fan of Pamela's Feral Warrior series, I was mystified as to why I hadn't been aware of this series, and I must say that there has been no drop off of the quality of writing, characters or story in general. As stated previously, it did take me a bit to have all the players straight, but once I got the teams divided up, it was smooth sailing. (for me, the reader, certainly not the characters.)
In a rather unusual twist for me, I am going to talk about the heroine, Princess Ilaria, in the most glowing of terms. Unlike the sickeningly sweet Disney princesses and their ilk, Ilaria has a bit of royal bite. Despite her centuries long exile, she still has a fair amount of arrogance about her. I really liked that. She didn't expect bowing and scraping, but she wasn't big on being a semi-captive either. Nor did she mind expressing her opinion in a blunt and succinct fashion. I also liked the fact that she immediately acknowledges her sexual attraction to Harrison and is more than willing to act upon an at first, purely physical desire. I really don't want to gush, but there was very little if anything that I didn't like about Ilaria.
Harrison at first was an "if" for me. Don't get me wrong, I like hard, damaged heroes, but I was afraid that Harrison might take things too far. Thankfully he doesn't and I didn't have to get out my skillet. For a former computer geek, he is indeed a fierce warrior and all the title entails. Harrison gets some soul shattering surprises throughout this book and handles them with stoic aplomb. He also excelled in the sexy hero category. Yup, yup, no slouch in the bow-chicka-wow-wow department. For a geek, he had the whole dominance (not the icky kind) thing down pat.
Physically, the book is relatively short and covers A LOT of ground very quickly. It also ties up all the ends left in the previous books. But for all it's lack, IMHO, of pages, it packs a big wallop and leaves the reader very satisfied.
I won this book in a contest/lottery that I entered of my own free will .