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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ravenborne by Chandra Ryan

Ravenborne by Chandra Ryan
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd
Genre: Action/Adventure, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (185 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: Best book
Reviewed by Water Lily

A dragon’s fate will seal their love…or destroy their future.

When Kavin Hunter appears on her doorstep to recruit her into the king’s guard, Saraphina Raven knows her secret—an unwanted telepathic ability—has caught the attention of the king. If she refuses to use her gift to discover who’s plotting against the throne, her last link to her royal heritage will be forcibly stripped away. It's a threat that's guaranteed to work. She'd do anything, even help the king that deserted her family, to preserve the only connection to her past.

It’s a past Kavin is all too familiar with. Once upon a time, his brother was betrothed to Saraphina, until the raid that destroyed her family. Now Kavin struggles with his own part in the mess her life has become. And a growing connection made stronger by the power of his healing touch. Though his loyalty lies with the king, Saraphina is becoming the woman of his heart. And nothing, not even a dragon in disguise, will stand in the way of their love.

Ravenborne has everything I look for in a book: strong, likeable, honorable characters; compelling story line; and heart pounding romance based on mutual respect and love instead of mere physical attraction. It also has hidden agendas, good-guys who might be bad-guys, bad-guys who might be good-guys, characters whose loyalty is in question until the very end, snappy dialogue, and a very interesting and believable alternate reality. Oh...and it has dragons.

It even starts out well. Normally, I dislike prologues, but this prologue was everything a prologue should be—captivating and necessary. It’s a claim not many prologues can make. It made me want to know more about the world Ravenborne is set in. It also gives me hope for more stories involving this world, its creatures and its complicated political reality.

I liked Sara from the start. She’s a realist who faces adversity, learns what she can and moves on without unnecessary whining. From princess to servant, she’s a strong woman who refuses to use her newly developed gift of telepathy for mental intrusion--mind rape. She blocks others thoughts as much as possible out of respect for individual privacy. Her strong moral standards combined with human emotions and frailties make Sara a real person. She’s someone I’d like as a friend.

Kavin Hunter is the perfect strong dedicated soldier. He’s alternately authoritarian and considerate. He’s an honorable guy with real guy strengths and real guy flaws. It’s easy to see how Sara falls for him. His high levels of loyalty and honor are also the characteristics that cause him the most personal angst. I love it when a character’s strengths are also his weaknesses.

Ravenborne is the novel I was hoping Chandra Ryan would write when I reviewed her short story Dragonborne. Thank you, Ms. Ryan! More please.