Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Mark of the Tala

"The tales tell of three sisters, daughters of the High King. The eldest: a valiant warrior-woman, heir to the kingdom. The youngest: the sweet beauty with her Prince Charming. No one says much about the middle princess, Andromeda. Andi, the other one. Andi doesn't mind being invisible. She enjoys the company of her horse more than court, and she has a way of blending into the shadows. Until the say she meets a strange man while out riding. A man who keeps company with wolves and ravens, who rules a land of shapeshifters and demons. A land she'd thought was no more than legend - until he claims her as its queen."
I came upon the wonderful Jeffe Kennedy through her friend (and fellow ROCKIN' author) Darynda Jones. Jeffe sent me an ARC of this book, and I started to read it on my way to RT Booklovers Convention. I was sucked into the story immediately with the first sentence. Something about the way she penned this story, it just oozed mystery filled fantasy. Instantly, I needed to know more about the story. You are introduced to 3 sisters who couldn't be more different from one another. This book is told from Andromeda, the middle sister. Better known as Andi, she desires to be away from the day to day politics of being a princess. She does not desire marriage like her younger sister, Amelia or does she desire to be the heir of the throne like her older sister Ursula. While there are traits within both of her sisters that she envies, she is content with her horse and riding beyond where she was allowed. 

Andi's mischievous ways lead her right into the arms of Rayfe. "Tala are drawn to one another in the outside world, I understand like a kind of deep, irresistible attraction." She smiled then, as the blush heated my cheeks. "Ah, yes - you felt it with my son. That's all to the good. You two will have enough to face together. You deserve to at least enjoy each other." Rayfe knew his place and his purpose at a young age. Their connection was instant. The pull towards one another was too strong; even for a stubborn, hard-headed princess of the High King. The blooming, and sometimes awkward, romance between these two is Hot with a capital H. And while that was an incredible part of the story, I couldn't help but put the "LOVE" on the back burner for the world that Jeffe created in this story. I want to walk barefoot through the grass in Annfwn and ride Fiona alongside the beaches. I found myself jealous of Dafne and all the scrolls and hidden texts she had access to. Jeffe created a world so vivid that I desired to learn all the history of the Twelve Kingdoms and Tala. I found myself re-reading the informational portions just to ensure that I absorbed every last word.
If I could pick a favorite thing about the story, it would be the broad range of readers it could reach. (This also lead to a problem of categorizing the book) This book set in a FANTASY world with a strong REGENCY presence with the kings and my ladies. Add a dash of PARANORMAL with the Tala, some MYSTERY of the 5 W's and top it off with a little ROMANCE and you have a book that doesn't fall under one heading. With the turn of every page, I wasn't sure what I was getting.
I adored the snarky banter between Andi & Rayfe. It lead to several dog-eared pages (SORRY, Jeffe... I know that is unforgivable) and a lot of highlighting... which wouldn't be a bad thing - except I was not reading an e-book. Since I don't write spoiler reviews, I will leave you with this before I share my favorite quotes of the book:
I felt different after reading this book. The lines of my imagination were tested, and I LOVED IT. Jeffe writes with a paintbrush of a talented artist. Her words are filled with beauty and pain all at the same time. I found that this story was so well written, that even the simplest line, "And there was Rayfe. Waiting for me," overflowed with emotion. You could feel what she was feeling as she wrote the words. It was an amazing feeling to be so tuned into the author just by reading her words. Now for my quotes!!! 

"You can't just waltz into Ordnung, Rayfe!"
"You don't say." He grinned at me, but stern resolve was carried under the words. "Besides, a waltz is too circular. I prefer a more direct approach."

"I fly over the walls, meet up with Rayfe. He sends the prisoners back. And I - I guess I marry him and go back to his castle or his tree house in the wild forests of Annfwn or whatever. Happily ever after."

He kissed me, slow and tender, and dropped his forehead against mine. "This may hurt."
"I ride a lot of horses," I whispered. 

"Thank you. It comes as a comfort to me that you wish me warm."
"I wish far more than that for you, my wife, but this will do for a start."
"I'm not your wife yet."
"Then we shall remedy that immediately."

I craved for more about Amelia and Ursula, and almost squealed with joy with I read that the second in the trilogy would be Amelia's story. I feel each sister has a part to tell in a larger story that has not fully been revealed and I cannot wait to have the big picture revealed to me. Thank you Jeffe for this INCREDIBLE book, and for being such a sweet person! 

Let's show our gal some LOVE: 


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