The Shadow Queen
Roc, Mar 2009, $24.95
The deceitful Queens ignored the honorable Rules of the Blood; their mendacious rule ruined Dena Nehele leading to open revolt. At about the same time weak Queen Cassidy of Bhak became Lady Cassidy when her retinue deserted her to join the stronger court of much prettier and more powerful Queen Kermilla.
Following an uprising, one of the remaining Warlord Princes, Theran Grayhaven desperately needs a partner to help him re-establish his family's control. The High Prince of Hell introduces him to Lady Cassidy. He proposes a marriage of convenience, which the former queen, encouraged by her few loyal friends, accepts as the new Queen of Dena Nehele. However, though Theran and Cassidy seem an ideal match, they have relationship issues further exacerbated when she meets and is attracted to his cousin Gray the gardener, a Warlord Prince with body and brain damage caused by the Blood Queens.
The latest Black Jewels fantasy thriller is a strong character driven tale as Theran and Cassidy seem genuine as does the key support players Gray, Ranon, and several Queens. The royal pair needs to unite if they want power, but once they do the duo realizes how incompatible they are especially when they meet significant others. To fully appreciate the interwoven history of the Blood magic world new readers should peruse previous tales in the saga (see TANGLED WEB and DREAMS MADE FLESH, etc.), even as Anne Bishop provides a strong romantic fantasy that fans will relish.