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Book CoverShannon C.’s review of Bound by Steel (Emissaries of Belthalas, Book 2) by Kirsten Saell
Erotic fantasy romance eBook released by Samhain Publishing 14 Oct 08

I’ve long been a fan of Kirsten Saell, both as a person and as a writer. I love her take on fantasy romance, which is both sexy and believably fantastic. This third book set in the same universe as Crossing Swords and Healer’s Touch is no exception. It’s not as strong an entry in the series as some of her other books, but a weak entry in this series is still better than some other fantasy romance I’ve read.

This book picks up where Crossing Swords ended, with Lianon and Gil living with their servant, the young, skittish Kaela. Kaela’s slowly healing from her brutal rape, and she still sees herself as completely unlovable. Lianon wants to give her all the love she can, but Gil isn’t so sure, being afraid that his wife will love Kaela more than him. But when danger threatens Lianon, Gil and Kaela are drawn closer together.

I really liked what Ms. Saell has to say about gender overall throughout this book. There are lots of characters here with different sexual preferences. There’s Lianon, who still prefers to identify as male to strangers, there’s the more feminine Kaela, there’s straight male Gil and then there is the gay couple that is introduced later in the story. All of these people have complex relationships, and for the most part I really liked seeing them come together.

I thought the romantic dynamic between Gil, Lianon and Kaela was especially well-done. I liked that none of them were entirely sure what they were doing, but made it up as they went along. And though much of Kaela’s healing happens through sex, I liked the definite tenderness between her and her partners.

I also liked where Ms. Saell is taking the plot. I’m not sure there’s much more to happen for Gil and Lianon and Kaela, but the idea of Gil going into politics was an interesting one. Also, I liked that the villain gets exactly what they deserve, simply because it needs to be done, and that Lianon is the one to do it. I also liked that another character, who might have been pegged as a villain in another book was simply portrayed as a misguided man doing what he thought was best.

I do have a few nitpicks, though. Every time Lianon called Kaela “my lamb” or “my *insert other animal name*” I kept getting thrown out of the story, especially since the animal name changed several times. It seemed kind of out of character for Lianon in the first place, and was just a bit cheesy for me. I also question the need for the introduction of a couple of M/M scenes, which didn’t actually seem to serve any actual purpose in the story other than to announce possible sequel-baiting. I also felt the book dragged just a bit, without that sense of tight plotting that I got from the first two books.

Those all being said, this was a good entry in the series and provided some much needed closure for Gil and Lianon and Kaela. I can’t wait for Ms. Saell’s next entry in this series, and if you like well-written fantasy romance, you should give this a go.

ShannonCGrade: B

Read more reviews for this series by following its tag.

A night of brutality destroyed her innocence…can the love of two people heal her wounded spirit?
“I’ve been thinking about Kaela…”
There they are—the words that lead Gil to suspect his wife Lianon is falling in love with Kaela, the beautiful, traumatized young woman they rescued from certain death six months ago. Gil has no idea how to compete with a woman for his wife’s affections, and part of him ceases to care as Kaela begins to work her way under his skin.
Kaela’s sweet innocence fills a chasm in Lianon’s soul she hadn’t even realized was there. As she gently helps Kaela rebuild her shattered confidence, Lianon begins to believe healing the young woman’s wounded spirit could be the key to wholeness for all three of them. If Gil agrees to follow her lead and help Kaela discover her own feminine power.
But even as they all succumb to their growing desire, Gil and Lianon are drawn against their will back into the intrigues and vendettas of Belthalas’ elite. With Lianon’s life at stake, Gil must weave a dangerous path between one adversary’s ambition and another’s lust for vengeance.
Success will save Lianon…but could cost them Kaela.
Warning: This title includes explicit sex, including f/f, m/m, m/f/f, anal sex; bad language; questionable politics; violence; stringy, overcooked lamb; a dog with a major drool problem; and one seriously well-deserved comeuppance.
Read an excerpt.

Other books in the series:

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