Thanks to Jess and Sheila‘s suggestions, I’ve been having a great time reading romance novels this month. I’ve even done a little branching out on my own, hoping to find an author whose work consistently makes me happy, and I think I’ve found one in Shana Abé. Two of her books made it into my weekend reading rotation, and I’m happy to report that they were both excellent, in different ways, and for different reasons.
Intimate Enemies revolves around Lauren MacRae and Arion DuMorgan, who find themselves in charge of their respective rival clans. A brief meeting as children, one in which Arion saved Lauren’s life, has stuck in both their memories. However, it’s unclear as to whether or not that one kindness can erase years of bad blood and disputed property; after all, it’s a little nerve-wracking to fall in love with someone who’s forever harping on how their island is really your island. But fall in love they do, and when a common enemy invader threatens to wreck everything both clans hold dear, you just know Lauren and Arion are going to get it together and save the day. This book is packed to the gills with swords, honor, duty, and the angst that comes from fighting your attraction to somebody who drives you crazy, but looks really hot in battle dress. Sheer escapist fun, great for readers looking for a traditional historical romance.
What really sold me on Abé, however, was turning to The Smoke Thief and discovering that her chops in the fantasy department were particularly fine. I’m a little fussy about my fantasy fiction, so I was pleased to discover that The Smoke Thief is the first in a series of novels that does something entirely new with dragons. Abé’s intricate mythology begins with the story of Rue, a jewel thief with a secret, and Kit, the tribal lord who cannot let Rue roam free once he learns who she really is. Kit and Rue are drákon, shapeshifters whose lineage stretches back through history and faroff places, and their love story is only the beginning.
Although both books were great, I preferred The Smoke Thief; it’s a regency romance wrapped up in a high fantasy saga, something I didn’t expect to find, and can’t wait to pursue further; other books in the series remain set in the 18th century, but carry readers around the world, from Transylvania to Spain, pursuing the epic loves and power struggles of the drákon, in sensuous prose. Highly recommended for fantasy-lovers looking for something truly innovative, and romance fans willing to try something new.
I love Abé’s versatility, and, if you like romances, I have a feeling you will too (if you haven’t, already–I know how voraciously you romance fans read!). Try her tales on for size and, as ever, report back.