15 September 2008

Review: Bertrice Small - Lara

Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: HQN Books (May 1, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373771541
ISBN-13: 978-0373771547

Welcome, dear reader, to the world of Hetar, a realm of Forest Lords, of Shadow Princes and Coastal Kings. A land of passions, both civilized and savage. Where the social classes know their place, but where anyone can, under the right conditions, advance to the highest pinnacle. This is a place where pleasure is never censured, but encouraged, and where deception and desire may be intertwined. The orderly, elegant veneer of refined Hetar can no longer ignore the rebellion brewing in the Outlands, a dangerous place of both magic and mystery.

From the city that is the very center of Hetar, Lara, the beautiful half-faerie daughter of John Swiftsword, ventures forth on a journey that will awaken her, both body and soul, as she learns the true meaning of love that will last an eternity -- and a searing passion that will change the destiny of Hetar forever.


Lara is going to be sold to the Master of Merchants, Gaius Prospero, so her father can join the tournament that gives him a chance to become a member to the Order of Crusader Knights. Lara knows there is no dowry for her, no real future, and if this gives her father a chance to become higher in rank and rewarded all its benefits it is the last thing she’ll do before leaving her home.

The Master of Merchants almost can’t keep the eager and greedy gleam from his eyes as he looks at the stunning Fey beauty Lara already is at such a young age. The auction will become a huge success and the bidding out of this world. Or so he thought… for it is Lara’s beauty that causes riots in the pleasure houses and twenty four hours later there were still no bids.
Now Lara is going on transport to other sections of the country, perhaps there someone will pay the price which makes up for Gaius losses. His cousin is a traveler merchant and takes Lara along with him. Arriving at the Forest Lords unprecedented events occur and now Lara is up to facing her new masters…

LARA is the debut novel in The World Of Hetar serie from Bertrice Small and it eats, breaths and hums with the unique writing signature of this author! A young woman starts her journey of experiencing various sides of carnal pleasure. But most of all, Lara searches for a place of her own in the Hetar world and she possesses enough backbone to walk the path of her destiny. It is all given to the reader with that which we come to expect from Bertrice Small. Well described passionate scenes, vivid elaborations of food, clothes and customs and this all enriches the story.

The World Of Hetar was a joy for me to wander in, The Desert Realm with the Shadow Princes, The Midlands with their guilds and orders, The Forest with their Forest Lords, The Coast province with the Coastal Princes and the Dark Outlands. Each had unique customs and surroundings, keeping me intrigued enough to where Lara would end up. The world adds to the lush and sensuous romance-fantasy story that is well written and easy to read. Of course Lara also has her destiny to fulfill and this is no different from many other romance-fantasy stories.

Though I feel at times it was over stipulated that Lara had a destiny to fulfill it is the journey that captivated me. With the Forest Lords, Enda and Duga, it is their brutish ways that made me root for the survival instincts of Lara. The Forest Giant Og was a secondary character that added details of the Forest Lords past and offered a much needed friendship to Lara. Prins Kaliq is a Shadow prince who teaches Lara much in the passion department and of course this vibrates Bertrice Small all the way. He also gets her in touch with her Fey family and they all get Lara ready for the next step of the journey. A horse, sword and staff are given to her by friends and family and are magical. I love details like this and makes it all feel more authentic, every heroine with a destiny to fulfill needs to have weapons that can defend her but also give a certain guidance.

Do not expect a beginning, middle and end, plot and romance wise. Though the final pages give a lovely conclusion it is the mere beginning for Lara then that it provides a satisfying ending. Where Lara ends up is something that makes me say: go read the book! I feel that she is exactly where she needs to be at this point and I enjoyed the romance that blossomed there knowing full well that the beginning is only made. The world of Hetar is heading towards new times and intrigue is lurking from dark corners. It all makes me eager enough for the second novel in this series: A DISTANT TOMORROW.

LARA is a compelling start of Bertrice Small’s venture in to the romance-fantasy genre and makes a satisfying read for its readers.

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