Forbidden is the first book in a new series by Jacquelyn Frank. It is set in the same world as her previous Nightwalker books but it focuses on a new group called Bodywalkers. Basically what a Bodywalker is a spirit from older times that inhabits the body of a current human. The spirits are ancient Egyptians that have been cursed to live forever. They survive in the Ether until they find a body/soul to host them and at that point they rejoin the world. The “blending” as it is called is a purely voluntary thing as each human is given a choice, upon their death, on whether they want to joined by the other soul. The two people then form a symbiotic being neither being dominate or submissive but both being present at all times. It sounds confusing but Ms. Frank explains it well and makes it work.
There are two groups of Bodywalkers- the Politic and the Templars. The Templars are what we would call the fanatical bunch of the race believing that the human host is to be used as they see fit and that they are the superior being. The Politic believe the blending is true joining of two complimentary people and that each person should have a say. The two factions are constantly at war and cause the original spirits to die off quite frequently. Once they die they have to wait 100 years to return to a new body. Since it has been close to 100 years since the last major slaughter there are many souls looking for someone to blend with.
Ram has been tasked with watching over the blended soul of their queen. Each time she returns he is the one to protect her until Menes, the king, returns. The king and the queen have a beautiful perfect relationship, one that has lasted through the test of time. No matter what body they chose to inhabit they always connect as the king and queen.
The queen has chosen Docia to blend with. When the two souls are first blended the ancient one is very weak and does not show too much of a presence. For the first couple of weeks the blending is very weak and the human is in charge. Over time the two learn each other both taking certain strengths and weakness. Since Docia is the one that is currently present she is the one that does all the thinking and talking.
Docia is what I would like to call “plucky”. I really enjoyed her character and humor in the face of this crazy thing that has just happened to her. Not only does she have to deal with the blending but the reason she was chosen was because someone tried to kill her. Someone pushed off a bridge causing her to fall on some rocks and almost drown. She has had a lot to deal with and she doesn’t whine or cry which is always a welcome thing in a crazy story like this.
This time, however, something different has happened. For the first time in many hundreds of years Ram feels differently about his queen. His recent blending is with a Navy Seal named Vincent so the two are perfect to protect the queen. But the two of them seem to want the queen/Docia in ways they never have in the past. Ram is second in command to the king and has long been his closest friend. To want his queen is a betrayal of the greatest order. He is extremely torn by his feelings but doesn’t think he will be able to resist them.
Forbidden is the first book in a new series so there is a huge amount of explaining to do. Some of the concepts and ideas aren’t necessarily new if the reader is familiar with the Nightwalker series but then some of them are. There is a huge amount of information to be departed in order for the reader to be okay with the joining of two souls. At first I wasn’t sure if I would like how it was done. It is a little hard to take that there will be four separate people in the HEA not the two I am used too. Ms. Frank does an excellent job of combining the info dump with the story that is going on. There wasn’t one point where I was confused or scratching my head as to what was happening.
The strength of this book, other than the world building, is the character list. Ram/Vincent and Docia are a wonderful match. Docia comes with several family members that are looking for her and there are also several other Bodywalkers we meet along the way. I found each of them to be very interesting and can’t wait until we get their story. What was also incredibly fascinating was the link to ancient Egypt. Each of the blended characters was someone from ancient Egypt. Cleopatra, Ramses, Menes were among the characters listed.
Ms. Frank’s books are generally a hit or miss for me. I never know what I am going to get when I open her pages. This time I got a big hit and I am really looking forward to the next book. Forbidden ends on a bit of cliffhanger, but it is not related to this story. All the strands of this relationship are wrapped up at the end. This is a fresh and new look for PNR and I would recommend fans of this overall series to continue with this new arc. Final grade- B+
She wondered when it was going to stop surprising her that Vincent wasn’t the type to ask permission to do certain things. She also wondered why it didn’t piss her off. She ought to be hitting him over the head with her purse, screeching, “Masher! Masher!” like the little old ladies in Bugs Bunny cartoons. Only she didn’t have a purse and she kind of enjoyed being mashed at the moment. Not that she’d cop to it under interrogation.