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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Just as traitors inside the Coalition has been responsible for the kidnapping of the goddess queen, Keira, one closest to the Drakken Warlord had been responsible for his fall. Battlelord Aral Mawndarr had allowed the ship carrying the Queen's consort, Prince Jared Jasper of Earth, to breach the Warlord's flotilla. Together the royal pair had ended the Warlord's reign of terror, by ending his life, and a centuries old war in a near bloodless coup as Draaken believers had finally stood up to be counted.
This left Aral only two further pieces of business to attend to, the arrest and execution of his father Karbon Mawndarr, and the rescue of the Warlord's secret daughter, Awrenkka. Wren had been neglected by her father much as her people had been. Once, barely in her teens, he had seen fit to summon her to his presence only to parade her before the most powerful men in the Empire, a prize to be dangled and won by the man who garnered her father's favor. Poor Wren was hardly a prize except in the power a marriage to her would bestow on her unwanted mate. Denied the medical care even the lowest born in the Coalition took as a birthright, shy Wren was undersized and wore thick glasses that barely compensated for her poor eyesight. The room had been filled with cruel and powerful men like her father, except for one, a boy whose eyes had reflected the same loneliness and suffering she'd felt in her own heart, until, afraid of his father's scrutiny he'd hardened his expression. She's never forgotten the boy nor he her.
Karbon Mawndarr had been an even worse father than the Warlord he worshipped. Aral would have preferred to have been neglected compared to the daily beatings he'd suffered in his father's effort to subjugate his spirit. He had never succumbed but had followed his father's career path, becoming a Battlelord, currying the Warlord's favor until he'd become a favorite, until the man he had been granted the man's daughter's hand in marriage. He had fallen for the Wren at first sight recognizing a kindred spirit. Suddenly afraid he had quickly hidden his feelings, knowing that his father would have vied for her hand if only to deny his son's happiness. As a favored Draaken warrior, Aral had been working covertly as a Coalition spy. Now with the Warlord dead and peace restored, he was an unsung hero. Soon his cruel father would also be put to death for his crimes, and he would be free. But the Coalition had one last assignment for Aral: Find the Warlord's daughter and bring her into custody. He would find her all right, but on his own terms.
The woman he loved was not safe, not from anyone. Drakken loyalists would be seeking her, hoping to restore the Empire to glory through her DNA. The new Triad government would do anything to prevent that from happening, even if that meant executing an innocent soul for her father's crimes. A bounty had been placed on Wren's head. The entire universe is looking for her. Now his only duty is to find her before anyone else did and protect her with his very life if need be.
On her own after a lifetime of a sheltered existence, Wren has been charged with a sacred mission of her own. She holds the key, passed down by the mother she couldn't remember to the woman who loved her like one. In her dying breath Wren's guardian Sabra had charged her with finding Ara Ana, the long forgotten birthplace of the goddesses, to uncover a treasure and make the galaxy whole. Well disguised thanks to her late guardian, Wren is evacuated from the planet along with other Drakken refugees. Not knowing who she can trust in the crowded refugee camp, Wren quickly becomes paranoid, feeling that all eyes are upon her. Little does she know that the entire universe is searching for a composite of her genetically perfect parents, not an undersized, nearsighted, scrap of a woman.
Trader, Keir Vantos is an opportunist. Since everyone in the galaxy is looking for a royal beauty he decides to search for the exact opposite hoping that his intuition would land him the lucrative bounty. Aral Mawndarr knows exactly who he's looking for and where to find her. As luck would have it both find her, at the same time.
Unbeknownst to Aral, his father has escaped and the Triad government could not disallow the possibility that Karbon had been aided by his son. Now Aral was wanted as well. Their only way off the refugee planet is on the trader's ship. Fortunately, Wren can offer a bribe that makes the bounty on her head look like chump change.
And they're off, on a race to find Ana Ara before anyone else does. Little do they know their biggest competition will come from TAS Captain Hadley Keyren and the crew of the Cloud Shadow, whose security officer just happens to be a memory impaired, former Drakken wraith assassin by the name of Bolivaar who could very will determine all of their fates.
Of all Susan Grant's novels, this was my favorite of all. It had everything I love in a story - romance, intrigue, action, adventure and of course a happy ending. THE WARLORD'S DAUGHTER took two lost and lonely children, one neglected the other abused, and gave them strength and character to put an entire universe to rights or die trying. Both have the right stuff to do what needs to be done on their own but together they are all but invincible. There is not an abundance of steamy love scenes but IMHO they are not necessary as the connection Ms. Grant establishes between the pair is undeniably soul deep. For a science fiction thrill ride that touches the heart, I highly recommend this tale. ~ Reviewed for PNR Reviews