Author: Trisha Wolfe
Published: April 19th 2013
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Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
In the sand-covered queendom of Cavan, the goddess once saved a young Kaliope’s life, preventing the mercury her father attempted to hide in her blood from reaching her heart. Now, a cybernetic clamp filters it, but the silver streaks swirling faintly beneath her skin are a constant reminder that she’s different.
When nineteen-year-old Kaliope is chosen as head of the Nactue Guard, she becomes the sworn protector to her empress. In the midst of an invasion on a neighboring land, Kaliope is placed in charge of guarding Prince Caben, the last heir to his kingdom. But when they’re attacked by the feared Otherworlders, Caben and Kaliope are abducted and taken below to a realm where they must fight for their life in a caged arena.
Kaliope struggles to protect her princely charge, keeping him and herself alive while battling inhumanly opponents, and trying to save the stolen, sacred relic that will restore her empress’s life force and all of Cavan. And if she can somehow awaken the goddess within her, she may save what’s most important.
New Adult Dark Fantasy: Intended for readers 17 years of age and older.
I accidentally stumbled upon Tuff Girls sign ups and I am so beyond glad I did, because I probably wouldn’t have seen this book otherwise. And I got to read it before the masses did! YAY! It was a completely different experience for me in the sense that usually when I have a review book on my hands, I think about the rating and critique, but in this case, I didn’t remember to concentrate on the pros and cons, I just enjoyed the ride of awesomeness.
The story. Kaliope is a protector of her empress and leads the Nactue which is the empress’ personal guard group of 5 young female protectors. She gets assigned to guard a prince from an alliance country and when the underworlders attack her country, she and the prince get kidnapped in the process. Now, in the underworld, they must fight for their life in a cage against others alike. Nothing is as it seems and Kaliope’s faith in her goddesses and in her own abilities to protect the innocents as well as her loved ones is put to an unimaginable test.
My thoughts. It was a first time for me to read about a matriarch society which itself was so intriguing and different. Mad props for Trisha for pulling it off! Gah, I want to tell you so much, but I don’t want to spoil it so bare with me while I ramble. We have a strong, kick-ass and rational heroine who now belongs to the group named ‘my favorite heroines of all time’. Kaliope has a good head on her shoulders and in addition to being a fierce warrior, she is a kind, strong, old soul who grows a lot throughout the novel.
What else do we have? Let’s see: A swoon-worthy hero who among other things is a prince? Check. Love that blossoms from respect and friendship? Check. A dark, exciting and an original tale? Check. It had everything I expect from a great book. There was this one scene where I was so frustrated that nothing happened, but it was compensated more than enough a little further on. The story takes place in a matter of days, but it actually feels longer so the romance, which takes the backseat in the plot, feels natural and real. It's definitely not head-over-heels or insta-love.
The ending left me in a range of emotions of love and rage and everything in between because I loved the book, but I was so sad that it was over and that ending left me craving for more. It was unputdownable, addictive, original, dark and twisted. Moreover, there were scenes that made me want to barf due to its gruesomeness and sob my eyes out due to how emotionally painful it was. WARNING: do not eat while you’re reading the cage fight scenes. I almost gagged while chewing a Caesar salad lol. It get’s messy!!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The cool sensation of the fresh water on my skin helps me forget my nerves and I lie back, floating just below the top of the water. My body dulls, the cold soothing my sore muscles, and I welcome the numbness. The ceiling of the cave is sprinkled with tiny clusters of white lights, dotting the canopy above our heads like stars in the sky. I feel as if I’m sitting on the rooftop of my apartment, staring at the night sky, not here in the Otherworld, awaiting my death.
The water rolls, rocking my body, and I glance over as Caben floats up beside me. He’s on his back also, and points to the lights dusting the cave ceiling.
“Diamonds,” he says.
“Really?” I don’t know much about any minerals other than mercury. And somehow, diamonds as our stars makes my chest heavy. It’s too beautiful. “How can you tell?”
“The ultraviolet light shows the impurities,” he says. “The imperfections actually absorb the dark light, causing the diamond to emit a visible glow.” He chuckles. “A very expensive lighting effect.”
I laugh. “Quite expensive.” They twinkle as they reflect the rippling water. “But almost more heavenly than the stars.” I lower my voice at the end, hoping he didn’t hear my spoken thoughts.
Caben doesn’t speak, and the trickling of the stream and lap of the pool becomes the only sound as we float in compatible silence. I could drift off, fall asleep in this peaceful place, but I know we still have a mission to complete before the Reckoning.
This thought awakens me, and I touch my feet to the bottom of the pool and begin to wade toward the edge.
I hear Caben’s heavy groan. “No you don’t,” he says, and captures the bottom of my tunic. He tugs me through the water, back to the pool’s center. “Not yet. This could be our last reprieve, and I plan for us to enjoy it.”
As I turn to face him, his fingers slip from my shirt to my waist, grazing my stomach. My skin prickles, and I shiver, matching the trembling water around us. His deep blue eyes meet mine, and he swallows, his Adam’s apple working. Slowly, he begins to inch up my tunic—
“Wait.” I place my hand on top of his.
He cranes an eyebrow. “It should really have time to dry before we go back.”
Logically, that makes sense. But the heated look he’s giving me says so much more. And regardless of the attraction I may feel for the prince—a woman would have to be blind—and whether or not we actually escape this hell ... what then? We share an intimate moment once, and go back to our stations in life, simply pretending nothing happened?
Or maybe I’m reading too much into his gaze. He’s a man, and physical desire is self-serving. He may die ... and he probably wants to bed a woman one last time. Everything about his character screams he’s not one who thinks past the moment.
I could lose myself for now, give in to the pulse quickening my blood with need, but I’ve never shown a man the clamp over my heart. It would have to be something I did for a different reason if I ever chose to do so. Not merely because I may die soon.
As I push his hand away and start to swim off, he grasps my waist, encircling his firm arms around my stomach, and pulls my back to his chest.
“Don’t run from me,” he breathes into my ear. “I’m not asking for anything. Not even whatever it is you’re hiding. Just stay here.”
Help Trisha and the Tuff Girl Legion get to 50 reviews on Amazon to read this full scene from Caben’s POV! Scene will release on Trisha’s blog. You can bookmark the bonus material here!