Before The Storm
Eden Trilogy, book one
Published April 6th 2010 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Whore-gift-and unexpected ally.
In Dagran society, Alex is the lowest of the low- a mare-, an object to be used by the nobility. When her owner, Stephen Garnath, gifts her to his greatest rival, she begins plotting her path to freedom. Nothing and no one will ever control her again. Not her degrading past, and certainly not her growing attraction to a man reputed to be an even crueler master than Garnath.
Robert Demeresna is instantly suspicious of such a generous gift. Yet she comes to him armed with only her sharp mind-a potent weapon he can use to defend his people from the enemy. And underneath, an unbreakable spirit that besieges the walls of his heart.
Slowly, Robert chips away at Alex's defenses, striking sparks that make her begin to believe even a lowly whore like her could be worthy of him. Until Garnath springs a trap so cleverly hidden, war is unleashed before either of them sees it coming. A new kind of war fought with steam engines, explosives-and magic with a killing edge.
Warning: Contains violence, steam engines, steamier sex and multiple explosions of the unstable chemical variety.
Out of the pan and into the fire- or so Alex is led to believe. When her lord and master gifts her to his enemy, Robert Demeresna, a noted sadist renowned as the Bloody Baron, her freedom from Stephen is only bittersweet.
Fitting that I would pick this up now, having just completed watching Firefly where the most popular not-couple was Captain Malcolm Reynolds and the Companion Inara. (Companion being a glorified, and choosy, whore) Never did see the allure there. Had no desire whatsoever to see those two together. Now, Simon and Kaylee on the other hand...
Back to topic- Robert is nothing special to look at. Plain brown hair. Plain brown eyes. And yet, he treats Alex proper much to her own confusion and eventually his smile and kindness comes to soften her guarded nature and she comes to want his attention. The focus of this book, however, is not the romance. It's not even the relationship between Alex and Robert. It's about war.
Action comes flying much sooner than I had ever expected. Not even at midpoint yet and woah, big things start happening. Perera definitely isn't going to let you get bored. The dialogue alone is captivating. The creativity and strategy behind the clashing forces will fill in any gaps if you're of the little-less-talk-and-alot-more-action crowd.
I'm one of those that likes it when the male protagonist isn't some cocksure ladies' man. Innocence is sexy. But Robert isn't perfect and even though he knows how to convey gentility and the like, he slips from the pedestal quite often. While I completely understood his wants and needs in life-a noble woman who could bear him children being one- he said a lot of things that never should have made it past his teeth. Mean things. Things I would stab a man for even daring to think let alone speaking aloud.
It ends well. There's little heroics and paranoia and rumor fuel just about everything the enemy does. Definitely not a smut book. You get one such event. And it doesn't even fill two pages. The book itself has been called a Steam-punk which although I'm rather unfamiliar with the genre, I felt the classification was a stretch. Granted, I could be wrong. 4 out of 5 stars.