Duality: Guardians of the Light #1

Renee Wildes
Guardians of the Light, book one
ebook, 304 pages
First Published October 21st 2008 by Samhain Publishing
ISBN 9781605043371

Love will give them strength... or prove to be their fatal flaw.

Dara Khan Androcles is really in over her head this time. From childhood she's been forced to hide her half-dragon mage fighting skills behind a public persona as a healer. Now, with a traitor and his demon threatening the throne of Safehold, Dara has no choice but to turn reluctant warrior-and seek help. She strikes a bargain with runaway Elven prince Loren ta Cedric and his sentient, pain-in-the-butt war mare, Hani'ena. Loren's not only too handsome for Dara's own good, the powerful empath can see right through to the pain that drives her.

Loren can't help but feel Dara's every hurt, physical and emotional. Though his need for her drives him half mad, he must stay his course to see justice done for his people. Even if it means swearing a Life Debt to the distracting mortal. That vow, made in the heat of their parallel quests, carries more power than either of them guessed. The power to bond the unlikely pair as Life Mates. The power to lay bare the fears and desires that could bind them to a single purpose-or tear them apart. All the while a demon awaits, ready to destroy all that they hold dear.

Warning: Contains patricide; noble self-sacrifice; one bad-ass, demon-possessed despot; a bad-tempered dragon; and a water mage who likes to "rain" on her husband's parade-literally. Downside: A quest for a magic book (written in blood) that nobody wants, and a talking war mare with the warm, fuzzy voice of Judy Densch. Upside: Serious ass-kicking. Be prepared to learn to curse, cry and laugh-in Elvish

The battle ends as Dara moves along the field of dead and dying bodies. She heals those she can, offering prayers and blessings, until she comes to Rufus, the last person she left in this world. His final words are a plea that she find the foreign lad. Find him and save him.

Loren lays wounded, his father beckoning to him via an enchanted amulet with the message to heal, and to return home. That his betrothed awaits him. Loren has neither worry or care for the woman, and so he mends his wounds intending to stay and assist Hengist in their plight. When Dara stumbles upon him, he at first thinks her a man. Even as she defends his life against three attackers.

Definitely my kind of heroine. Kicking ass, not bothering with the names and mercy- what's that?

Afterwards, as Loren's healing continues he swears a life-debt to Dara, binding them until death. An act which has more meaning than Loren could have prepared for once Dara's ancestry is revealed.

Loren and Dara are ideal medieval characters. They both have a deep rooted belief in death before dishonor and realize that their world is worth that death. The supporting characters are equally enthralling and actually *support* the union between the immortal elven prince and his bastard, peasant love... for the most part. Hell, elven royals who want their grandchild to just be happy- how often does that happen? 4 out of 5 stars.

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