Thursday, January 14, 2010

Book Review -- The Rose of Shanhasson

Another Joely Sue Burkhart E-ARC I received back in November was The Rose of Shanhasson. This was released first as only an E-book, obviously received the attention a Burkhart book deserves, and then was released in print. This is the first in the Shanhasson Trilogy. (Published November 2009 by Drollerie Press -- 258 pages) Genre is Romance (man-woman) with sub-genre of fantasy (and maybe erotica).

As Our Blessed Lady’s last Daughter, Shannari must rule as High Queen or the Green Lands will fall into eternal darkness. Her destiny is to shine against the Shadow, protect the land and people with her magic, and keep the Blackest Heart of Darkness imprisoned. Her blood is the key, powered by the love in her heart. However, Shannari’s heart is broken, her magic is crippled, and the nobles must have forgotten the dire prophesies, because everyone wants her dead.

Only love can restore her magic, but her scars testify how love can be corrupted. So when a barbarian warlord conquers her army and professes a love like no other, Shannari’s first instinct is to kill the mighty Khul. Even worse, one of the Khul’s guards used to be an assassin–a very skilled assassin, if the darkness in the Blood’s eyes is any indication. The same darkness festers deep in her heart and draws her to the wickedly dangerous man as inexorably as his Khul’s unshakable honor. Her weakening heart is not only torn between love and duty, but also between two magnificent warriors.

Yet neither warrior will be able to help her when Shadow calls her name.

Loved this! I've read a number of Burkhart's shorter works and thoroughly enjoy her voice and writing style. I also follow her blog so am likely a very bias reviewer. If her other stories hadn't already hooked me this one would have and Burkhart is firmly on my auto-buy list.

The world building here is fantastic. I was swept away into a world familiar yet intriguing. Vivid and fully-realized characters continue to haunt me long after the last page. The plot -- "Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles..." the grandfather from Princess Bride -- seriously though, the plot was rich and full!

The Sha'Kae al'Dan have a beautiful, rich culture reminiscent of Native Americans. Rhaekhar is the Khul or the leader of the Sha'Kae al'Dan. He is strong and sure and the perfect hero.

The Green Lands, a culture reminiscent of medieval kingdoms, are in turmoil. Shannari is the last direct descendant and destined to be High Queen. And, of course, someone doesn't want THAT to happen. But she's been hurt and damaged and requires the greatest growth to achieve her happily ever after. I could completely relate to her survivor instinct and call to fulfill her destiny.

Add in Gregar, one of Rhaekhar's personal guard, and you have a love triangle -- menage a trois? -- of epic proportions. Gregar is just as damaged as Shannari, a not so perfect hero, and to say something calls between them would be an understatement. (Side note: I love it when the person I picture portraying a character matches that of the author!!)

Run, don't walk, to pick this one up!

I know the second book, The Road to Shanhasson, in the trilogy is out in E-format, I can only hope it will be in print soon as well. These books are destined for my keeper shelf!

Note: If you don't like blistering hot sex, and lots of it, then you should give this a pass. But I think you'd be sorry if you did.

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