I always look forward to reading a Kathryne Kennedy book. She’s one of those authors who has a stunning imagination and is able to bring all her ideas and concepts to the printed page perfectly. This book is no exception. Ms. Kennedy has once again given readers characters and a story they’ve not read before. She definitely has the magic touch.
In this book her world is a planet of water with trees growing in forests up through the water. This is where her characters make their homes, carving out what they need in the gigantic trees that also have other characteristics to help out Marhi and her people. Marhi is a water-rat. She’s lived in the swamps and waterways all of her life, can navigate her way through the channels like nobody’s business, is a smuggler of the zabbaroot – a root, when eaten, that gives certain humans powers to do incredible things. What Mahri is unable to do is heal, so she must find a healer to save her village.
With kidnapping on her mind, since that’s the only way to appropriate a healer, she heads to the city under cover of night. As luck would have it – actually, her bad luck – she stalks off with none other than the heir apparent of Sea Forest. What’s done is done, and their return journey is one of the most fantastic to read about. At nearly every turn they run into either trouble or sights unbelievable and beautiful. Ms. Kennedy does a wonderful job of describing such scenes, you can see it all clear as day as you read.
At first Korl is, of course, not happy to have been woken from his sleep only to be thrown into chaos by the prettiest water-rat he’s ever seen. He’s a Royal and has always had the best of everything, but he’s about to have an attitude change not only in getting to know Mahri but also when he sees her village, to know her people and how they live. It’s his attraction to Mahri that’s the biggest change of all. He knows instantly this woman is for him, despite her denials and refusals of assurance that he’s wrong. Successfully healing those in need, Korl and Mahri then spend time together in her world before she realizes the only way to keep the man out of her system is to take him home and fervently hope he will not betray them to his world.
Mahri does believe Korl has betrayed her, she’ll be tortured and executed by the Royals, as many of her kind have been in the past. But what she ends up walking into the middle of is a Bonding ceremony, something she doesn’t want either, even despite Korl’s asking for her trust. She doesn’t want to lose her independence, herself, body and soul, as happened with her now deceased lifemate. The ceremony is carried out and Mahri feels trapped in so many ways. It’s when Korl can no longer keep her in his care because of her unhappiness that he lets her go, hoping she will one day return to him.
As much as I like this entire book, it’s this last quarter of it that really shined for me. From the moment Korl tells Mahri he realizes she’s miserable and tells her about a caged bird from their history, the emotion of the story really comes out. Korl is certain Mahri will return to him, but Mahri, after watching the light in his window that he said he’d burn every night until her return, finally knows the only way to get the man out of her life is to get as far away as possible. She heads to the Beyond, an ocean of unknown never truly explored before. Even against dire warnings she’s determined to face that unknown head on and she may never return.
I love the connection Korl and Mahri have since their Bonding, which is tested in this last part of the book. Korl’s arrogance and certainty of his love for Mahri warmed my heart. Mahri’s vulnerability where men and commitment are concerned, mixed with her independence and stubbornness, make her a real woman who deserves such love. At first I thought the fact that the hero is not the tortured hero like Ms. Kennedy created in Dominic in The Fire Lord’s Lover would keep me from liking this book as much as that one, but she gave me so many other facets from her imagination I should have known better than to doubt.
If you’re a fan of Ms. Kennedy’s previous books, you will put this one on your keeper shelf along with all of her others. If you’ve yet to read her work, you should. You get it all when you read Kathryne Kennedy. It’s magic at its best.
He’s a ruler in a divided world…
In a magical watery world of the Sea Forest, the divide between the rulers and the people is an uncrossable chasm. Handsome, arrogant prince Korl Com’nder has lived a life of luxury that is nothing more than a fantasy to the people he rules. Until the day he is accidentally kidnapped by a beautiful outlaw smuggler and is forced to open his eyes to the world outside his palace walls.
She’s an outcast, but at least she has her independence…
Mahri Zin would stop at nothing to save her village, and when they needed a healer she didn’t think twice about kidnapping one. But when she realizes that the healer she so impulsively stole is none other than the crown prince of Sea Forest, Mahri knows that she has a chance to change the fate of her people…
Read an excerpt. (click the Excerpt tab)