Lord of Rage is Jill Monroe’s entry in the Royal House of Shadows multi-author series. The three bears in this story are brothers, and the Goldilocks is an exiled princess. A princess who learns to kick some serious ass. But otherwise, the fairy-tale thing totally works. With a slight dose of Snow White (mostly the dwarfs) added in for comic relief.
The Royal House of Shadows is the story of the fall of the house of Elden. The country is overthrown by a Blood Sorceror, and the last, desperate act of the King and Queen is to send their four children away from the carnage in the hopes that the princes, and one princess, might avenge their deaths. But the compulsions of royalty and parental love have different agendas. With the force of their dying breaths, and the force of their death spell, the royal pair’s last spell compels their adult children to two almost diametrically opposed agendas. Their father’s spell obligates them to revenge themselves on the Blood Sorcerer. Their mother’s spell requires them to survive at all costs.
Breena has been a protected princess all of her life until the night that the Blood Sorceror invaded Elden. Now in her mid-20s, she has become restless and yearns for freedom from the restrictions that have bound and controlled her life. She should have married long ago, but her father has been saving her for the most advantageous political marriage. Her mother has promised her that her magic will come to her when she is married. Until the attack, her only magic was in the ability to walk in dreams, and the dreams she walks in are those of a warrior who may be real, or may be a construct of her imagination.
But during the attack, due the force of her parents’ spell, she reaches out for the one person who can help her survive, and help her find vengeance–the warrior of her dreamscape. And finds herself in a deserted woodlands, far from home. After wandering for days, she practically stumbles into an empty cabin in the woods. It represents food, shelter, and a relatively safe place to rest.
When the residents of the cabin return, they find spilled food, a broken chair, and a blonde woman sleeping in one of the beds. The owners are the last of the Ursans, men who take on the spirit of the bear when they fight. They are berserkers. Or, at least one of them is. Osborn, the oldest, is a true berserker. His two brothers are too young. Their people were slaughtered before the boys could learn the Ursan tradition. But Osborn has kept them safe on Ursan land. “Goldilocks” has been found by the three bears, after she has eaten their “porridge”, tried out their furniture, and is sleeping in one of their beds.
The boys want to keep Breena. They think she will cook and clean for them, not realizing that she has never done such things. Osborn wants to keep her, too, but for much more adult reasons. He has dreamed of her. Many, many nights. But he always thought she was a creature of his own fevered imagination. Breena wakes to find that her warrior is real, and very, very angry. Osborn thinks Breena has been manipulating him all along, especially when she asks for his help. He’s been a mercenary. He gave up that life to take care of his brothers and to take care of the Ursan lands. He doesn’t want to go back to being just a hired sword. Especially not for this woman who has invaded his dreams.
Escape Rating B+: I liked Lord of Rage even better than Lord of the Vampires, the first book in the series. The relationship between Breena and Osborn develops gradually–even though they’ve been dreaming about each other, dreams don’t translate to instant knowledge. They have a lot of real-world issues to work through first. There’s a big trust issue they need to get past, and the story shows them both working on it. Breena and Osborn earned their happy ending. We just won’t know if they actually get one until the end of the whole series.