"a rich and unconventional elfin magic story"
Elfin Crown Prince Terran of Diraenia is still in mourning
eight months after losing his fiancée accidentally killed
under suspicious circumstances at his jealous younger
brother, Unwin's, hands. He's at odds with his father King
Liam, who wants him to meet the princess from neighboring
Asuria in the hopes that the pair will make a perfect
marriage match and ease strained relations between the two
kingdoms. Reminded that should he not marry and produce an
heir by his thirtieth birthday the crown will forfeit to
Unwin, Terran agrees to a meeting. He has not, however,
forgotten the strange Zal woman who has been haunting his
dreams for the last eight months, and driven by the drums
of Diraenia or Nitesh -- "the heartbeat of the land" -- he
sets out to search for her two weeks before the Asurian
princess is due to arrive.
Taken captive by Asurian forces during an unsanctioned
assault on her village, Thalassa is a magical young woman
from the coast of Zal who has had a far from easy life.
She was abused by her father and almost raped during one
of his drunken rampages. Her mother, browbeaten most of
her life but not defeated, rises up against her husband
and stabs him in the back to protect her daughter. She is
consequently executed for murder, leaving Thalassa an
orphan alone in the world and at the mercy of her father's
brutal brother, Doloth who makes her his betrothed.
Grieving and dreading her upcoming nuptials, Thalassa's
heart and soul is soothed and won by a chance meeting with
a well-off stranger in a dark lonely alley on the border
of Zal. The stranger is Terran, unbeknownst to Thalassa at
the time, the heir to the Diraenian throne.
For a few glorious days, Terran and Thalassa find comfort
and solace in each other's arms, away from their painful
pasts and the prospect of empty and mournful futures
without each other. At the end of three days, each goes
back to their own world -- Terran to his kingdom Diraenia
and Thalassa back to her betrothed in Zal -- taking with
them enough passionate and tender memories to last them a
lifetime. Never once do they realize that together they
will unite the region, bring a lost-and-presumed-dead son
back to his kingdom and reunite him with his father the
Francis has written a rich and unconventional must-read
for fans of elfin magic and poignant storytelling,
skillfully pulling the reader into the urgency of the hero
and heroine's plight. She draws out Thalassa's escape --
with fellow captive and Diraenian, Eri -- from evil and
lustful Asurian brothers Adrick and Rhaeven, and Terran's
desperate search and rescue mission across several regions
that culminates at the border of two kingdoms on the verge
NITESH is at once a very sweet and intense romance, made
all the more so by the fact that the hero and heroine
remain apart until the very end of the book. Francis makes
up for this "deficit" with vibrant descriptions of her
setting; well drawn and self-contained flashbacks between
the hero and heroine; engaging protagonists who frequently
communicate across great distances through their magical
abilities; and a well-written quest filled with tension.
This winning formula is rounded out with gallant and loyal
secondary characters and tightly wound subplots of
intrigue and romance. The periodic and mysterious
appearance of a mythical and seemingly vengeful dragon who
lays waste to a couple of villages along the way while
saving Thalassa and her traveling companions more than
once, tops off NITESH with a nice bow of action,
adventure, and suspense.
Reviewed by Gracie McKeever
Posted June 15, 2004
Although Thalassa, a sea-witch is captured when the warlord Rhaeven sends his troops to her small village, she views it as not much more than what her past life entailed. Married at a young age to a man she did not love, and abused during the relationship, she is secretly glad to see her husband die. Now, pregnant, enslaved, and stricken with a deadly disease, she only waits her own death to release her from her torment.
Terran, the elfin Crown Prince of Diraenia, must choose a mate and produce an heir before his 30th birthday, or forfeit the crown to his youngest brother, Unwin. And time is running out. Terran is 29. His fiance, Elise, is dead, and he believes Unwin responsible. Yet, there is no proof. To make matters worse, Terran's other brother, Sinclair, has disappeared, and Terran fears the worse.
Bothered by a strange, haunting beat of drums, which no one can hear save himself, Terran's thoughts continually turn to a brief encounter with a young woman from Zal. Three days he spent with her, walking her back to her village, and her pre-ordained life there. Three days he spent falling in love with a woman who could never be his. She returned to her village, her waiting husband, and he returned to the palace, and life of emptiness and despair.
But the drums continue to call, and at last, Terran sets out to revisit the village, to see the woman one more time, to bring a close to his questions.