When your people are struggling for survival, love is the last thing on your mind, especially if your job is to kill the brother of the only man you’ve ever loved.
That simple plot description becomes a multi-layered fantasy romance in the hands of Isabo Kelly. Her Brightarrow Burning gives readers not just a steamy romance, but also a compelling portrait of a heroine caught between duty, desire, and the gut-instinct to trust someone she’s known all her life, even when recent events say she shouldn’t. The story boils with added fire of the human desire to live fast in the face of imminent death, and a truly addictive partner.
More on that in a minute.
Brightarrow Burning shows a world in shambles. A powerful race of Sorcerers invaded Layla’s human city just a few short years ago. The Sorcerers draw their power for their spells from human pain, so they capture and torture Layla’s people for their fuel.
The humans thought the nearby Elven Kingdoms were their allies, but the Sorcerers were clever. Divide and conquer is an old trick. The Sorcerers bargained with the elves first, promising power and riches, and the elves stayed neutral in the Human/Sorcerer conflict.
Without elven weapons, the humans had no chance.
Then some of the elves started trading weapons to the Sorcerers. With the neutrality broken, the more enlightened elves were able to start trading with the Layla’s people again. That enlightenment meant they had never been beguiled by the Sorcerers’ claims; they knew that as soon as the humans were conquered, the Elven Kingdoms were next.
Layla is an archer, one of the best shots the humans have. With elven weapons, she can disrupt a caravan of captives, and sometimes assassinate its guards. But she has a special assignment.
One elven lord has been betraying the secrets of the human city to the Sorcerers since the day they arrived. The elves used to be their friends, and had free entry into the city. Layla’s assignment is to kill that elf.
Although Althir may have betrayed the humans, his brother Ulric has been a friend of her family’s all her life. Now that Layla is a grown woman, the feelings she has for Ulric are anything but familial.
It won’t stop her from killing his brother. But Ulric might.
He’s suddenly there, every time she turns around. He says he wants to protect her. Even more, he says he wants to love her. But Layla fears that the real reason Ulric is there is to protect his brother.
After all, where was he before she started to target his brother? He disappeared for years, and suddenly he’s back. It can’t be a coincidence.
And then Ulric adds the addictive compulsion of elf-fire into this already combustible mix, and all hell really does break loose!
Escape Rating B: For a short novella, this story packs a surprising amount of emotional wallop into it. Equally surprising, it manages to tie up its major loose ends, as least as far as the hero and heroine are concerned.
The worldbuilding is pretty neat, too. This is a dark and gritty war-torn fantasy world. We see just enough to know why Layla’s and Ulric’s relationship has such a damn hard time getting started, and where Layla’s trust issues come from.
I would love to see more of this world, it’s got the kind of possibilities for future storytelling built into it that remind me a little of Shiloh Walker’s Veil series.
If you prefer your elves dark and tortured, your women warriors, and your road to romance rocky, you’ll enjoy this book.
Isabo will be giving away a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
- To be entered, just leave a comment along with your email address.
- One commenter will be chosen randomly from all the comments made at each tour stop, so the more tour stops you make comments at, the greater your chances of winning! A list of all participating blogs can be found here.
- Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM CDT on 3/30