In general, I hate novellas. The romance happens instantly, the plot is rushed, the story gets lost in the action. With Thea Harrison’s new eNovella, True Colors, all of this is still true. But for once, the plot is designed to fit well into space of a novella and so those things all work together to enhance the story.
For those not familiar with the Elder Races series, this may not be the best place to start. Although things are explained about the rules of Harrison’s world, without the background knowledge of the Elder Races, this novella may seem rushed. In the world of the Wyr, life mates can be struck with love and devotion at first sight. So when Gideon first meets Alice and discovers immediately that she is his life mate, he knows that he cannot leave her side. This is especially true since she is the next victim of the serial killer that he is trying to hunt down. He knows right away that he must protect her at all costs.
The novella takes place over a very short period of time. Eighteen hours, to be exact. That is how long that Gideon and Alice have to track down the serial killer that is tracking Alice’s particular Wyr species. (I won’t give it away!) Fortunately, with Gideon’s alternate form being a wolf, Alice couldn’t be in better hands. Add to that the fact that Gideon has been a soldier in Dragos’ army for almost one hundred years and, clearly, the killer has met his match.
The love story between Alice and Gideon is very fast paced. But the clever use of the Wyr mating characteristics is why this fast paced, almost rushed romance, works. Gideon and Alice both know immediately that they have found their mate. The spark is there, and once Alice realizes that Gideon is not the killer, neither of them fight it. What is neat is to see the way that the love follows the biological need that they felt from the beginning. As the two work to keep Alice alive and unravel the mystery of the serial killer, the growing understanding that they feel is where the love story comes through. Yes, they are destined to be together, but as they get to know each other, they realize why they are each other’s destiny and it is from that understanding that their love for one another grows.
Despite the fact that they know from the get go where they will end up, it is still sweet to see the way Gideon doesn’t rush all aspects of their relationship. He knows what he feels but he still leaves Alice room to take their relationship at her own pace. She is a quiet schoolteacher. He is a Wyr soldier and police detective with an aggressive personality. He knows that it will take her some time to get used to him and he gives her the time that she needs.
One thing that I especially loved about this story is that this is a Christmas story – or at least the Wyr equivalent of one. The holiday being celebrated is the Solstice, but it definitely puts you in the holiday spirit. We also get to see a different side of the Wyr. This isn’t the very elite world of Dragos and his sentinels. This is how the everyday Wyr live. Gideon and Alice are not immortal Wyr. Though we see a peek at Dragos and Pia, we see them from the point of view of the common man. Though one of the sentinels is in the story (Bayne), Gideon is not a part of Dragos’ inner circle and so we see the sentinel as a boss, not a pal. This was a nice change of pace.
While the romance is rushed, that is justified by the circumstances of the Wyr mating. Though the plot is fast paced, the race to find the killer explains that aspect of the novella. With this story, Harrison cleverly crafted the story to play into all the potential problems of a novella and the result is a real treasure to add to the series collection.