This is a story to reckon with. Jenna is a Shielder rescued from the Dark Galaxy who now lives on Shimera, a haven from annihilation from the Controllers. However, she is isolated from her own people by the visions she sees. So when the Leors demand a bride, or they will not provide passage (only the Leor have ships large enough for transporting a whole colony of people) for two recently discovered Shielder colonies, Jenna steps forward to marry the Leor, which she had seen in a vision. Arion is a Leor Comdar in firm control of all his emotions. The matter of taking a mate is only a necessity to propagate their species. He will not yield to anything, even his non-Leor mate. However, with the interference of Lani "the blue echo bird" and a meddlesome android, he discovers there could be more at stake than just begetting a child.
As a Shielder Jenna knows of the Leor and has heard rumors regarding their lifestyle. But nothing prepared her for her new life as the mate to a Leor male; for the actuality of trading the isolated security she had on Shimera for his way of life. Jenna has blindly agreed to live on a hot desert planet where nothing is explained to her. Life for Jenna is one hardship after the other as the Leors expect her to know their ways, while at the same time they treat her worse than a slave and with mistrust. Because of Lani, Arion is worried that stress will hinder her ability to conceive a child. Thus he finds himself getting to know and admire his tiny, fragile, human mate. Although he is clueless on practically every aspect of dealing with her, the tenderness is still there as well as the growing attraction, which leads to desire. Thus leaving the big bald guy at a loss because it is contrary to the nature of a Leor. Arion does make small concessions with Jenna and in their case this more than works. As the couple faces getting broken apart, can Jenna see her husband not for a beast, but someone she would give her life to protect?
This is a really well written novel. For starters - yippee!! Lani's back! I love her, she cracks me up and - 'see how the mighty will fall' comes to mind, with her help. SHADOW FIRES is an intense novel that is a little different. It seems most weddings are with other humans, where as now we have a human and humanoid marriage. We get to learn about the Leor, a race of reptilian humanoids that are all in 100% control of everything they do and have a very deep mistrust of outsiders.
The relationship between Jenna and Arion is tender, and I was surprised at how gentle he was with her, even though it went against his own nature. Jenna is a remarkable woman. I think if placed in her situation, most people would lack the determination, strength and desire to succeed under the conditions. At the same time this was also an intense novel. I loved the android Maxine who helped to lighten the tone almost as much as Lani. The way the aura is used is ingenious, although embarrassing, also lends moments where you can't help but laugh. If you have read the rest of Ms Spangler's books, you will get to revisit couples from previous stories, including Lani. I really enjoyed SHADOW FIRES, and couldn't put it down. I highly recommend it!