As with so many great book love affairs, this one started with a recommendation. I was searching for a good fantasy read and was told about the author Merry Shannon by The Lesbian Review, a source that I trusted before, but after this recommendation I completely feel like they’re basically a lesbian-fiction reviewing superhero. I bought the book and lazed around a bit before I actually decided to open it. I’m kind of glad I decided to laze around first, because once I opened the book, I didn’t put it down until I was finished. And this is not a short book. At 384 pages this is a substantial read that made the book lover in me giddy with excitement.
The crux of the story is this: an assassination attempt brings together a princess and an acrobat-turned-bodyguard. I sampled some of the fantasy genre years ago, but after discovering a lack of romance from many of the prominent male writers, even though their writing was amazing, I found that I just wasn’t invested enough to cultivate the interest needed to pay attention to the worlds they built without the component of love at the forefront, which pretty much rules both me and my reading fire. I’m a hopeless romantic and that’s what I want from my literary escapes. I want worlds and characters filled with romance and lots of other things, but love above all else.
Here, I found a story with a complete and beautifully built world. I believed everything that happened during the course of the story. I believed the people I met, but more importantly, I believed IN them. A cast of colorful characters took me on a fantastic ride filled with court intrigue, civil struggle, battles of will, confusions of the heart, and revelations that I could cheer for. The characters were so completely developed that it was hard not to become fully and entirely consumed with them. I fell head over heels in love with Talon, the tall, sinewy, androgynous woman who becomes guardian to the princess. I felt as though I grew with the princess who seemed at first to be so one-dimensional, but then, over the course of the book matured emotionally, physically, and turned into a woman full of grace, dignity and compassion before my eyes. I was whole-heartedly charmed by Erinda, a chambermaid side-character who actually became one of my favorites of the whole story.
I whooped with their successes and cried real, heavy, big, fat tears during their setbacks. I saw parts of myself in this book, and even when I saw that I was nearing the end and I wanted to slow down, to pace myself, to make it last, it was like I was taken over by the intense urge to keep turning pages, or tapping the screen, as it were. I just could not stop reading. The writing was well done, well thought out, beautifully edited and so professional that it let the critic within me rest in order to fully immerse myself in and enjoy the story.
This is a slow simmering story of love between two women, and I felt their emotions, passions, and confusions so deeply that at times I found myself holding my breath while I was reading, curling my fists during tense moments and squealing when the passion between them finally flowed over. It felt realistic in its pacing, and omniscient points of view changed often, satisfying that greedy urge that I’ve always had to know what was going on everywhere, at all times, with all characters. Still, even though we traveled with different characters all through the story, I was never confused as to who was speaking and whose vantage point was being explored. I learned so much about good writing from just reading this story. The writer in me gave the author a huge round of applause while the reader in me swooned and made moon eyes at the main characters.
I don’t even want to get into much of the plot because there is so much magic in reading it in its long form. A synopsis just doesn’t do the story justice in my opinion. I never felt too bogged down with information about the court, the geography or the lifestyle of the people in this new realm and exposition always seemed relevant and freshly told. This is a wonderful jewel from an extremely talented writer who I can’t believe I JUST found out about. Even if you don’t think fantasy is your thing, do yourself a favor and go purchase this book. I need the world to know about this crush I have on Talon :). The wit, charm, romance, excitement and even tense, heart-stirring moments totally get five stars, at least a dozen roses and all the colors of the rainbow from me! Loved, loved, LOVED it!! I’d love to gush more about it, but there’s a second book written in the same world called Prayer of the Handmaiden and it’s calling me.
purchase the book at Amazon
or from the publisher Bold Strokes Books
and remember: reviews are love!
Wishing you romance and whimsy