Desert Isle Keeper
Thea Harrison spins her Elder Races series off into a new direction with the release of Moonshadow, book one in a self-titled series. Expanding on the world building of the previous series and using European myths and legends as inspiration, Moonshadow finds renewed energy in an action packed story that I couldn’t put down.
Readers unfamiliar with the Elder Races world will quickly get to know the important details through Sophie Ross’ introduction as a street-wise Witch with a little something mysterious in her background. For eleven years she has increased her magical knowledge by living with other races or magic wielders from other disciplines than those with which she was raised. Sophie’s transient lifestyle led her to a consulting job with the LAPD that put her right into the line of fire when a weapons bust went south. Recovering from her wounds, Sophie is at a crossroads about her future when she’s invited to meet with a woman who makes her an incredible offer: If Sophie can gain access to an English keep that has been locked for centuries she will inherit the land and the annuities that come with it.
Upon arriving in England, Sophie’s good deed for an abused animal draws her into a war that’s been going on in the background of history for generations. The Dark Fae and Light Fae Courts are forever locked in a power struggle taking place in the magical Other Lands and our realm on Earth. Battles for control moved easily from one realm to another until all of the passages between the two were destroyed during the Middle Ages. Warriors of the Dark Fae Court were left stranded in our realm and have battled wave after wave of the Light Fae’s Hounds until their number dwindled down to nine. The commander of these warriors, Nikolas Sevigny , has been hardened by the years spent isolated from his people and separated from his men in order to keep the Light Fae from detecting their concentrated magic.
When Nikolas learns that Sophie has made contact with Robin, a sentient creature from his realm believed to be a captive of the Light Fae Queen, he tracks Sophie down and insists she turn Robin over to him for protection. Sophie’s caring nature will not let her abandon Robin for fear it will face abuse at Nikolas’ hands because he seems too aggressive to want to care for a wounded creature. Sophie’s compulsion to help Robin puts her right in the crosshairs of the Light Fae but she refuses to remove herself from danger. Continuing on with her task to open up the magically sealed house Sophie finds she cannot shake Nikolas. Her need to be treated as a woman capable of protecting herself is met with resistance by Nikolas’ old world attitudes that he must keep her safe. Their bickering over every small point puts them at odds on the surface, yet the deep attraction that flared at their face-to-face meeting pushes them to redirect their aggression at a more carnal level.
Unfortunately the danger of the Light Fae lurks around every corner, giving the pair little time to reconcile their conflicted feelings for each other. Visions of betrayal from trusted friends keep Nikolas and Sophie allies when the leader of the Queen’s Hounds discovers that Sophie has seen Robin. The remaining warriors of the Dark Fae begin gathering to protect her and the resources hidden on her lands. A new battle for control is on the horizon, with Sophie possibly holding the key to which side will be victorious.
I have long been a fan of the Elder Races series but had reached a saturation point with the characters and politics that ran through the nine full length books. It was time for either a new beginning or for the series to reach its end. Ms. Harrison does a little of both in Moonshadow by acknowledging known races of the USA like the Wyr (shapeshifters), Witches and Djinn but shifting the setting to England and populating the island with two new demesnes for readers to learn about. Everything old is new again! Sophie becomes the eyes of the reader discovering all that has been lurking just an ocean away and she’s caught up in this new world just as easily as we are.
It’s exciting to see things from Nikolas’ perspective too, since he’s been living in a modern world but refusing to acknowledge it. Meeting Sophie and relating to her more forward, creative personality is a shock to someone with the ingrained sensibilities of an ancient knight. He’s also thrown out of his comfort zone since Sophie is no less than a take charge, Alpha female who can stand shoulder to shoulder with any of his men. Their romantic dynamic vacillates between adversarial, highly sexual or intimately tender; however it feels like a real romance once Nikolas understands that Sophie is his equal.
Moonshadow delivers an action packed story with a solid romantic relationship that I finished in practically a day. In preparation for my review I started looking through the book for details and I ended up reading it a second time just for fun. With a great mix of dangerous battles, magical forces and a steamy relationship at its core, this book is an adventure to read.