I just finished the Lady of Light and Shadows, by new author CL Wilson, and I must say I was surprised and delighted that Wilson has entered the paranormal/fantasy/romance genre with this deft work of what used to be called 'high fantasy."
My friend Renee, who is a shameless book pimp for fantasy and SF books (mainly because she attends every SF convention within a thousand mile radius and collects books at all of them), gave me a tantalizing preview of this book back in December. I thought it sounded interesting, but not enough for me to run to the bookstore and grab a copy. Then I happened to find a copy in the drugstore, of all places, while I was waiting to pick up a prescription for my son, and the next thing I knew I was buying it because I'd become engrossed in the plot during the half-hour wait. It is unusual for me to spend full price on a mass market paperback book, as I like to buy used copies at the Library Guild book cart at the Maple Valley Library, but I fell under the spell of Lady of Light and Shadows, from its lovely cover, depicting the red-headed heroine, Ellysetta, to its juicy chapter one love scene with the delicious Rain Tairen Soul, a fey king who can shape-shift to become a dragon-esque puma-with-wings. Wilson differentiates, by the way, between Elves, a race of small sprites, and the fairies or fey, who are apparently larger than life, fierce and extremely magical, as well as immortal.
One again, it appears I've come into this series on the second book. The first book, entitled "Lord of the Fading Lands" established that young Ellysetta, the adopted woodcarver's daughter, has called Rainier vel'En Daris, the Tairen Soul, from the skies to be her 'truemate' or soul-bonded husband. The couple are engaged, and Rain has vowed to not consumate the relationship until they are truly wed. Meanwhile, though, evil Eld Mages, whose magic comes from the proverbial dark side of the force, are sending nightmares to Elly and suborning or possessing her friends and relatives so that the high mage, who had a hand in Ellys birth, can try to abduct her and force her to use her magic for evil. The Eld wish to take over Celieria so that they can have access to the Fey's Fading Lands, and all their power. Wilson uses her lush prose style to bewitch the reader with all the plots and intigues of the two sides, while simultaneously fleshing out the rich relationship that is blooming between Elly and Rain. The plot is stately and graceful, moving at a pace that is fast enough to keep the reader turning pages, but not so fast that one can't stop and admire the beauty of Wilsons world building, fully-realized characters and pretty prose. For a new writer, Wilson's ability to create an erotic scene between her main characters is masterful, and will leave readers breathlessly wanting more. I can't wait for the next two books, King of Sword and Sky and Queen of Song and Souls, which are coming out in October and November this year. I highly recommend Lady of Light and Shadows to all fantasy/romance readers who enjoy a good romantic fairy tale written in high style.