Kathryne Kennedy has again managed to bring a world to the reader that is brimming with wonderful fantasy ingredients like elemental magic. It's incorporated in many facets of this world I ventured in from buildings to social structure creating a fully realized setting. And not only the magic enticed me again, there's a game with rules that transforms England and its inhabitants in to pawns for the all powerful Elven Lords to play with. With an easy flowing writing style I absorbed the back story of how the Elven Lords came to play a cruel game, to concur land and possess the King for their own court...
The first thing that grabbed my attention was how quickly and effortlessly Kathryne Kennedy seemed to create a world, give me a concept of how cruel the Elven Lords were and how they keep immortal boredom away with their games. But with the suppression of the English people the Rebellion against theElven Lords rises. From the first page I could feel the darker tone of this fantasy romance and I couldn't wait to meet the main protagonists. In such a darker setting I always experience the joys in life and romance all the more intense. What I got was a hero that had me at hello.
Dominic Raikes is the Elven Lord Mor'dred's bastard son, with strong magic flowing in his veins he is the kind of leading male that carries a story by the sheer force of his presence and personality. He is a leader; stern, aloof, distant, in control, and sometimes he gave his all not to be liked. Still, as the story progressed I got a revealing look at another side of him. The side that surfaced when he let go of his rigid control. A gentle, compassionate side that emanated a hunger to give and receive affection. He mesmerized me, enveloped me in his personality of reasoning, emotional highs he tried to keep in check so others might be safe. Everything about him seduced me and I could understand Cassandra's reactions so well to his person.
Cassandra is trained to be a spy and would infiltrate enemy territory by marrying Dominic. She is a combination of righteous fire for the Rebellion yet also innocent. Wise but also inexperienced and challenging Dominic in all the right ways for him. Courage, intelligence but also kindness and a certain vulnerability is part of her personality. From the beginning the arranged marriage is very convincingly portrayed in their distance of emotions. Though Cassandra has been trained for years to be a spy for the Rebellion, once married, that swiftly seems to dwindle in the storm of emotions her new husband evokes. Both Dominic and Cass cannot afford to fall in love with each other, but love is an unstoppable force, which alters the scheming games profoundly. The romance did have a few bumpy moments in going from the distant, arranged marriage to Cass and Dominic realizing their feelings for one another. Once the romance took over, written in the moving prose of this author, I had no trouble anymore to completely surrender myself to the love that was blooming.
While I was pulled in to the romance, got comfortable with the world Kennedy created the plot took a bit of time to fully come to effect. Suddenly there were interesting twists and turns that gradually increased the tension of whether or not the good would vanquish the evil. I was sandwiched between a developing romance and a plot where the stakes were so very high, so much stood to lose and my hunger to devour the pages grew to a pinnacle till the very end. Leading up to that end this story contained it all but the actual fight did not entirely deliver on the promise throughout the story. I didn't get that moment where tension piques, would they or would they not make it, and then that sweet, intense rush of relief. After the personal battles were fought I thought that the ending was nonetheless surprising and unconventional. Kathryne Kennedy made the solution work both in romance as in plot and at the same time spiral the epic battle between the Rebellion and the Elven Lords in to very exciting new grounds. One I can't wait to explore further!
The prose of Kathryne Kennedy speaks to me as I envision her world in my mind's eye. The romance was something I reveled in, it was both charming, sweeping-of-your-feet romantic and toe-curling sensuous. Romance Fantasy is very addictive when it's coming from Kathryne Kennedy's incredible imagination!!