I can’t say that I read much Fantasy romance, but I was intrigued when I read the description of this book. It made it seem like the book would be full of uncertain politics and tense relations between two factions. The politics and twists and turns were one of the things I loved about the Tairen Soul series, another Fantasy Romance series I’ve read, so I was hoping for the same thing here.
Although I found the world idea interesting, it wasn’t developed as well as I’d hoped. In the beginning we’re introduced to Annika, a Na’Chi (AKA a Na’Reish/Light Blade halfbreed), Kalan, a Light Blade warrior (human), and the Na’Reish, the race of demons who captured Kalan. The plot develops from there, with Annika striking a bargain with Kalan to help him escape. They both initially distrust each other, and even occasionally fear each other, but they are forced to learn to rely on one another in order to successfully survive the escape.
Unfortunately, not much more development happens in regards to the world setup. The author developed the broad strokes of the world, like… There are demons and there are humans and they don’t like each other. Halfbreeds are abominations that are rarely allowed to survive. The Na’Reish seem to have no religion, but the Light Blades believe in a goddess–who is indicated by the incessant use of italics and capitalization of the words “Her” and “She“–and their whole culture seems to be based around her, excuse me, Her influence. But that’s about it for worldbuilding. At the very end more detail is given, but even then it wasn’t enough. I needed more depth to the world and characters to truly become engaged.
One thing that I really enjoyed was the tension and wariness between Annika and Kalan in the beginning. Both of them took a big leap in trusting each other, but there was no other alternative. Their wariness was not cured in an instant, and they both spent a lot of time watching for betrayal. Of course, I didn’t like that the heroine only proved that she was different from the other demons by showing her humanity. That seemed to translate into her showing her soft and caring side. Basically, she had to be emotional. This left the heroine feeling rather young and overly emotional, at least for me. Then again, I found the whole tone of the book flowery and overly emotional in general. Given that the Tairen Soul series reads the same way, I have to wonder, given my relative inexperience with the genre, if that’s just the style of most Fantasy Romances.
The romance took its cue from the rest of the book and stayed underdeveloped. Kalan and Annika were likable characters, but their connection came too easily once they got past their initial mistrust. Love came way too quickly for both of them, and given Kalan’s position and the responsibility on his shoulders, I expected more of a struggle over divided loyalties. The lack of it gave the whole Light Blade culture, and the romance, a superficial feel. Even at the end, when Annika is faced with the threat of an addiction she’d fought to avoid, we’re still only given a bare minimum focus on it. It wasn’t gone into at all, and I had to wonder why the author even felt the need to bring it up if she wasn’t going to treat it as important.
I liked the book’s focus on prejudice, and especially liked that the author wasn’t afraid to play with who was to blame in the situation between the Na’Reish and the Light Blades, but I found the overall plot to be predicable and the conflict to be too easily solved. The situation lacked the intensity I was looking for and I was left feeling ho-hum about it when it ended.
“Hesia was right. The real test of a person is whether they can see past the names and labels.” His gaze was steady. “I’ve seen you. You laugh, you fear, you cry, you love. You’re as human as me, Na’Chi.”