Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Warlock's Pawn by Tara Quan
Foreseeing the warlock’s destiny, Alia saves the man her sister plotted to kill. He returns five years later to conquer her city. A pawn in a battle for desert waters, Alia resigns herself to a political marriage and an empty bed. But when Duncan demands more than just her name, she chances losing her heart along with her freedom.
Determined to reclaim her kingdom, Anora parlays her body to remain at Duncan’s side. From within the Helicon court she spins her web, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Alia is all that stands between her and the throne. Her sister must cease to breathe before the warlock’s affection wanes.
A master tactician, Duncan has no qualms about making Anora his courtesan and Alia his queen. But it is Alia’s eyes that haunt his dreams, and she soon becomes his only weakness. With the perils that haunt the Helicon court, caring for the fey is absolute folly. A warlock’s love is a fatal curse, and Alia’s death will be his undoing.
Inspired by The Arabian Nights, Warlock’s Pawn is a romantic suspense replete with political intrigue, magic, and a sword-wielding alpha male.
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Right from the start of this book you're made aware that Alia is not a heroine that's going to need someone to save her. She'll save herself and her man, thank you very much. Though she's also not your typical kick-ass female warrior fantasy character, for she's really very self-effacing, a bit shy, and more than content to leave the spotlight to those who want it. Given her choice, she'd prefer to stay in her temple, doing her work as a priestess and healer and not get involved in the politics of the realm at all. Even though events force her to take a part in them, she still sits back and lets things unfold around her for the most part, only taking action when she must. That she is not afraid to take action when necessary, and does not hesitate to do so when the time comes, shows her strength of character.
Duncan is a man who does as he pleases, and he holds enough power, both magical and political, to be able to do so unquestioned. He rules with a stern, yet fair hand. He is drawn to Alia, the same as she is drawn to him, by more than the bond that is formed between them when she saves him at the beginning of the book. Still, when events have played out, and he has returned and seized power, he does not immediately ravish her as would happen in most books of this sort and there's the sense that he holds off for more reasons than simply because tradition demands he take her virginity publicly as part of the wedding ceremony. He tries to deny his feelings for her, but he makes no bones about the fact that he respects her even if he can't seem to accept that she doesn't need him to save her from anything.
Despite that both Duncan and Alia are interesting characters, I never felt any strong connection to them, or at least not to Alia very much. I understood enough about her to like her and to admire her spirit, but I never quite felt like I really got to know who she was inside, what her personality was like really. The same was true of Duncan, though with him I did feel like we got enough insights into the "real Duncan" to form a bit more appreciation for him. I was sorry to see the story end though, for despite my issues in being able to really get a sense of who they were, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading about them and would have liked to have had longer with them. Especially Duncan. I'm sure their marital exploits were...interesting.
Speaking of exploits, this book is full of them. The sex may not start up right away, but it doesn't take long before it makes its appearance and, well, let's just say we're not talking about missionary position in the dark here. The sex here is generally public, and frequently involves more than one participant. Restraints and blindfolds are brought into play more than once, and there is the general feeling that as steamy and a bit kinky as what we are shown is, there is likely a whole lot more happening that we aren't shown.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story with its fascinating if slightly hollow characters and the intrigues that take the plot through a few different twists and turns, not all of which were easy to see coming. I continue to be impressed with this author's work and will look forward to seeing what she produces in the future. I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes paranormal romance, especially with plenty of bedroom heat. 4 solid stars from me, perhaps slightly higher.
Note: I received a free copy of this book as part of the Goodreads PNR NaUBA group's R2R program in exchange for an honest review.