The Tears of Elois by award winning Fantasy and Paranormal author, Crista McHugh.
Before I begin this review, I want to state clearly in accordance with the FTC's new rules that I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this directly from the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation or consideration has been given.
Shape Shifters have two rules: Rule #1 is Don't let the humans know you exist. Rule #2 is If a human finds out about you, silence them.
Ranealya is a shape-shifter who follows the rules, and has outlived the rest of her race because of it. The ruler of the lands where she lives is bent on destroying all non-humans, and that includes Ranealya. Then, the unthinkable happens. A human saves her life.
Gregor finds a wounded shape-shifter and takes her home to heal her wounds and allow her safety. It's also a chance to study a shape-shifter up close. Ranealya causes him discomfort in many ways, not the least of which is the attraction he feels for her. Though he is the King's cousin, is he willing to risk it all to save the shape-shifters life?
The Tears of Elois is a wonderfully complex story of not one but two couples.
Kira is the magician assistant to Master Tyrrus, who has been training her to use her magic wisely. They find themselves hurled into Gregor and Raneayla's world when the Azekborn, the King's assassins nearly capture them as they flee. Master Tyrrus has been a spy for the Resistance and helping other races to go to safety through a portal created by Kira. Is it infatuation she feels for Galean, the elf leader of the Resistance or is it something more?
Galean is an elf, who loves his sister Ranealya, but sometimes, it can be hard having a sister who is a shape-shifter, leading a mismatched band of refugees, and trying to keep everyone fed and alive. Kira brings out new feelings in him. Is she his Ruhisha, his soul mate, or is she only a passing fling?
How Ms. McHugh managed to weave together a story of not one but two couples and give them all more than enough length and breadth is beyond me. That's why she is the award winning writer, and I am not. A master story-teller, Crista McHugh takes you into both couples worlds, lives, and thoughts and you enjoy every moment of it. More action, magic, elves, dwarves and a few surprises along the way as they seek to reclaim the seven Tears of Elois in order to save the Kingdom from the tyrannical ruler will leave you breathless yet again.
We learn enough of each person and each couple to feel a definite pull for them as individuals and as couples. We share their anger, sorrow, and joy in each mind racing, page turning event crafted by the author.
I highly recommend this read and yes, again, another of Ms. McHugh's books gains the elusive KEEPER shelf from me. Along with receiving a 5-star rating on the oft asked for 1 to 5-star rating that I prefer not to use as a normal occurrence. Ms. McHugh's writing again shows us that independently published books can and many are of high quality and carefully edited. (Again, I found only one editing mistake, a misused word, where a was used, but of was the word that would have made the sentence understandable without a second and third read of it. I have found literally dozens in N.Y. Published books, so this is a huge plus to Ms. McHugh and her editor.)