Remedy Maker by Sheri Fredricks is a contemporary fantasy/paranormal romance that I took on a lark. It turned out to be a delicious treat with some fairly serious underlying themes in the middle of its mythological creatures’ Romeo and Juliet love story and backroom political machinations.
Rhycious doesn’t start this story in a frame of mind to be anyone’s hero. Or anyone’s much of anything. All he wants is to be left alone. This centaur is the Royal Remedy Maker for Queen Savella of the Centaurs, but he’s used the excuse of needing to gather herbal remedies to live in a remote cabin as far from the center of court life as possible.
Rhycious suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as result of his service in the two-century-long Centaur-Wood Nymph war. One of the problems with being a healer is that Rhy knows exactly what his problem is. He just doesn’t know how to stop the flashbacks. Living alone just means that no one else suffers when he has one.
The war has been over for one hundred and thirty years, and they’re getting worse, not better. Maybe living alone isn’t the cure Rhy thinks it is.
His nearest neighbor is Samuel, a young Amish farmer. Rhy has been friends with Sam’s family for centuries. Sam knows about mythologicals, and he knows what Rhy is. Most humans have only seen Rhy by day, in his human form, but Sam has seen his true form, his Centaur form, between sunset and sunrise.
Sam also knows that Rhy is a healer, so when his buggy nearly runs over a young woman in the woods, Sam brings her to Rhy. Sam just thinks the woman is English, meaning not Amish, and Rhy is the nearest healer.
She’s way more than not Amish, she not human. She’s a Wood Nymph. The first one to ever enter Rhy’s house.
The nymph’s name is Patience. A quality that Rhy is sorely lacking thanks to his PTSD. But a quality he absolutely must find in order to treat the female now in his care.
Meanwhile there is also a second female in Rhycious’ care. He is the royal physician, and someone manages to poison the Queen. In the investigation, a plot to overthrow Savilla, and the peace and prosperity of her reign, is uncovered.
There’s corruption in the court. Some centaurs would prefer they go back to war. Savilla, Rhy, and his friend Alek want the peace to continue. And Patience, she was born after the war ended. She believes in the dream of peace, the way it was before the war started all those centuries ago. She’s an ally.
But the more she and Rhy work together, the stronger their attraction for each other, in spite of the difference in their races. Peace seems barely possible between Centaur and Wood Nymph; can they have a long-term future?
Escape Rating B+: I was surprised at just how much I liked this book. The world of the Mythic Boronda Forest is well thought out, and everything hangs together very well. It was neat the way that the Centaurs switched from human appearance to Centaur form, that was nicely done.
And the whole thing with the mythicals bordering Amish country in Pennsylvania was fun. I realize that if this had been written a bit later, Rhy would probably have gotten his t-shirts from someplace other than Penn State, but maybe not. Still, I like the idea that the world is bigger and more eerie than what we think we know. That’s the fun of fantasy. And there would be asshat hunters trying to pull the crap that happens in one of the sideplots of the story. Unfortunately some of human nature sucks.
The court politics about the war, and folks wanting to go back to the “good old days” of the war, and the “good old days” when they were on top, sounded all too possible. As did the undercover operations. Politics is often a dirty business. So is the environmental pollution that affected the wood nymphs.
This just missed being an A rated book because there were some points in the middle where I felt like the story could have been tightened up a bit. I enjoyed it a lot, but there may have been one too many subplot threads. YMMV
I can’t wait for book 2. The author’s website lists it as Trolly Yours. Soon please!