Synopsis from back cover: Welcome, dear reader, to the world of Hetar, a realm of Forest Lords, of Shadow Princes and Coastal Kings. A land of passions, both civilized and savage. Where the social classes know their place, but where anyone can, under the right conditions, advance to the highest pinnacle. This is a place where pleasure is never censured, but encouraged, and where deception and desire may be intertwined. The orderly, elegant veneer of refined Hetar can no longer ignore the rebellion brewing in the Outlands, a dangerous place of both magic and mystery.
From the city that is the very center of Hetar, Lara, the beautiful half-faerie daughter of John Swiftsword, ventures forth on a journey that will awaken her, both body and soul, as she learns the true meaning of love that will last an eternity – and a searing passion that will change the destiny of Hetar forever.
Creating Hetar and it's many characters has been a great challenge for me, but a wonderful ad creative endeavor. I hope you will enjoy Lara's tale.
Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 2005.
How acquired: Received from a Book Mooch member.
First line: She was naked.
My thoughts: While this book was published by Harlequin, I would not classify it as a romance, but rather as fantasy, with a little romance thrown in.
At the age of fourteen, Lara, who is half human, half faerie, is sold into slavery by her father, a mercenary, so that he can afford to outfit himself properly to apply to become a member of the Crusader Knights. Lara is meant to be auctioned off to the Pleasure Houses, but her beauty is so great that the owners of the Pleasure Houses begin to fight amongst themselves and so much dissension is caused, that avenue is forbidden. She winds up being sold to the Head Forester and his brother, who believe that if they can impregnate her and she gives them a child, a curse put on their race by the Queen of the faeries will be lifted. And that's just the beginning of Lara's journey, for she has a destiny to fulfill. She doesn't know what it is or where it will eventually lead her, but follow it she must.
The story unfortunately became a little tiresome after awhile. I didn't find many of the characters very engaging, other than the young slave girl Noss, who Lara takes beneath her wing, and the giant Og, who helps Lara escape the Forest Lands. There wasn't a lot of depth to any of the characters. Lara is just so perfect. Her beauty is apparently due to her faerie heritage, and while traveling she has to hide it, as all the men she meets are mesmerized. That got old also, and I would have liked a little more explanation of why being half faerie made her so enticing. Are the faeries just really so much more beautiful than humans? Does faerie magic make them appear so to humans?
The books spans two years, during which time Lara also becomes a very skilled lover. Which when I thought about her being just sixteen, seemed a little over the top, and even at times a little yucky. Sex between the characters flows pretty freely and without inhibitions, but the sex scenes aren’t very…sexy. They’re more just a non-graphic recitation of what happened between the people involved. There are many mentions of the male characters' “manroots”, an almost quaint term that didn’t particularly bother me - until Lara and the Shadow Prince are watching his horses mate, and reference is made to seeing the stallion’s penis. After that it began to irritate me that on a horse it’s called by what it is, but on a man it’s called a manroot. And then when Lara and the Shadow Prince fall to it themselves, Lara faints from the pleasure. Ugh, please. I had to set the book down and take a break at that point.
What I loved was the world building. Learning about the different races, the different peoples, and the mythologies behind their cultures, particularly the giants and the forest people. And that is why I will eventually read the next book in the series, and hope the plot improves.