Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Plus Novel
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Series: Eden Trilogy, Book 1
Publisher: Samhain Publishing Ltd.
Hero: Lord Robert Demeresna
Heroine: Alexis Khayne
Date of Publication: April 6, 2010
Started On: December 6, 2010
Finished On: December 8, 2010
I have never been one to indulge much in the world of fantasy romances, though I know that the world of romances and the happily-ever-after it offers is nothing much more than a fantasy in itself. However, I am talking about an altogether a much different kind of fantasy in this instance, stories where authors spin elaborate and fantastic worlds of their own making, within which mythical creatures of all types reside in, and the sky is literally the limit in what can take place in such a world. Though many read and rave about books such as the Lord of the Rings series or the Harry Potter, I have never had the urge to go buy myself a copy and indulge. And when Ms. Marian Perera approached me and asked whether I would review her book entitled Before the Storm, needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive at first, not knowing what I was going to find once I entered into the realms of the fantastic world that she has created in this trilogy.
The heroine, Alexis Khayne is someone who is treated practically as dirt by her master Stephen Garnath, the ruler of the indestructible coronet city of Radiath, a man who is hellbent on acquiring power by any means possible. Alexis is known as the Black Mare, mare the term being used for whores, and Alexis is the tool used by Stephen to make use of and allow his friends and foes to make use of whenever he pleases. Alexis has learnt long back to hide what she feels behind a calm facade of nothingness beyond which lives a soul yearning to be free of the shackles with which she has been bound to Stephen since she had agreed to be his paramour. A woman with nothing left to lose, the ability to even bear a child taken away from her, Alexis’s salvation comes in the form of the Bloody Baron, Lord Robert Demeresna.
The baron of Dawnever Robert is the fair and just ruler of his people of the Dawnever Province which lies on the land’s edge. It was said that Robert’s fields were filled with scarecrows made from crucified men and that he had once impaled an opponent, driving an iron spike through the man’s pelvis which had in turn earned him the name Bloody Baron, a name which Robert uses to his advantage. Robert knows of and is wary of the war that he knows is definitely coming his way, in Stephen’s plans to conquer the Dragan cities and become the ruler revered and feared alike by everyone. To this end, Stephen employs a man named Ohallox, an Iternan magician who uses his abilities to help Stephen along in his nefarious mission.
When Stephen presents Alexis to Robert, both Alexis and Robert are equally surprised, apprehensive and wary of the gesture. Never having been presented to a man before in such a way, Alexis is at first scared out of her wits to be presented to someone known as the Bloody Baron to take her away and do with her as however he pleases. Robert and his trusted companion Mayerd, another Iternan sorcerer who had lost all his abilities, thanks to the heartbreaking betrayal he had suffered at his wife’s hands, make short work of allaying their suspicions regarding Robert’s unexpected gift for the time being as they both know that somewhere along the way Alexis would be used to gain the upper hand in a war that was fast approaching.
The last thing Alexis expects is to be left alone with no advances forthcoming of any nature from Robert. Accompanying him and his soldiers in the lengthy journey from Radiath to his home, Alexis plots and plans her escape which becomes thwarted at the last minute. And it is during the days that follow that Alexis learns of Robert’s true nature, and for the first time in her life, Alexis yearns more than anything to be possessed by a man, a man who shows not the slightest interest in her. However, desire and yearning takes a backstage when Stephen strikes like a viper, using the most unlikely of weapons, nearly destroying Robert and his allies with his vicious attack.
The battle that is waged is a fierce one, with Robert’s army sadly outnumbered by Stephen’s greater and much powerful armed forces. However, the one thing that Robert has on his side is the use of weapons from the Quorum, the mighty high lords who use religion as their tool (as most religious scholars do in the real world), their steam bellowing weapons and explosives making the story come alive in a whole different way.
And in the midst of all this, unwanted though at first, an attraction blooms which later grows into something much more as magic, ingenious weaponry, treachery and good old heroism comes into play to win a war against all odds.
1- Though it was at first hard to get a grasp on what was happening and who was who, as soon as I knew what was happening I loved the fantastic world that was created in this novel. Ms. Perera might just have turned me into a fan of fantasy romances with this one and I do thank her for the opportunity to read a fantastic novel which otherwise I may never have tried out. The descriptions of the world they inhabit are done so well that at times I felt as if I were watching a fabulous movie starring an ethereal world that at times I couldn’t for the world of me pull my eyes away from the screen. Kudos to Ms. Perera for a job well done. I am just amazed to say the least of the ingenuity of a mind capable of creating a world such as this one.
2- Robert. Mind you, he is the 1st beta hero that I have loved. His possessiveness when it comes to Alexis comes to light in subtlety which made it much more sexier in fact! And it was refreshing to read about a hero who is not afraid to admit that he does not have a vast amount of experience when it comes to wooing and satisfying women in bed. So with the tables turned, with Alexis being the experienced one makes for a good change from the norm.
3- Alexis Khayne. From her unusual name to her strong nature which refuses to break even under the most extenuating circumstances, Alexis is an admirable heroine if there ever was one. She doesn’t spend time on the what-ifs of life, but rather accepts what she is dished out, and love when it does come calling, Alexis doesn’t spend time contemplating on hows and whys, but rather accepts it even though Robert at first apologizes for the fact that he can’t help himself in wanting her. Beautiful, capable, strong and with a mind of her own, Alexis is a heroine I loved right from the very beginning.
For me, this story was a bit lacking in the romance department. Not that I want explicit sexual content in every other page of the story, but the one thing that makes any sort of romance an excellent one is the sense of awareness and the sexual attraction that simmers, flows and ebbs between the two characters as the story unfolds. Just a tad more in the romance department, and this would have been a 5 star read.
Recommended for: Fans of fantasy romances. The setting here is fantastic, the characters multifaceted and the adventure non-stop!
Caliber Seal: GREAT READ!