“Xylara is the Daughter of the Warrior King, Xyron. With her father dead and her incompetent half-brother on the throne, the kingdom is in danger of falling to the warring Firelanders.
Before she was old enough for a marriage-of-alliance, Xylara was trained as a healer. She can’t usurp her brother or negotiate a peace–but she can heal the brave ones injured in battle.
But not only her countrymen are wounded, and Xylara’s conscience won’t let Firelander warriors die when she can do something to save them. She learns their language and their customs and tries to make them as comfortable as possible, despite their prisoner-of-war status.
She never expects that these deeds, done in good faith, would lead to the handsome and mysterious Firelander Warlord demanding her in exchange for a cease-fire. Xylara knows she must trade the life she has always known for the well-being of her people, and so she becomes…Warprize.”
In an attempt to stave off the yearlong bibliorestlessness I’ve been arrested by, I’ve tried to let mood dictate my book choices as much as possible. Several encounters with Warprize – on Amazon, to start, where it garnered excellent reviews – piqued my interest, catching me up in a need to read the book as soon as possible; that lightning strike desire turned into a week dedicated to Elizabeth Vaughan’s Chronicles of the Warlands.
The first thing I feel compelled to say is that, from my perspective, the paranormal romance label on the book’s spine is misleading. Does the series incorporate subtle mystical elements? Yes. The hero’s nomadic people subscribe to shamanic-like beliefs: they draw strength from and pray to the elements, and the dead guide the living. The mysticism is subtle; with one notable exception, anything remotely paranormal happens outside of our heroine Lara’s first person narrative sight and, as a result, the reader’s. Even then, these elements don’t manifest until well into the second book. Point being, if you do not typically read paranormal romances, don’t let the book’s placement in that category put you off. Warprize has the feel of an historical set during the Middle Ages, which is bolstered by events in later books, including an encounter with a plague ridden feudal outpost, and Lara’s reliance on natural remedies.
Regarding Lara’s medical training, it gives her a sense of purpose and a stubborn streak. She will treat anyone who has need of her skills; she is a proactive heroine, willing to do what’s necessary no matter the cost to herself. Keir exhibits typical alpha traits: dominant, protective, and swift to take action. But what he is ultimately trying to do – blend his people with Lara’s so that knowledge and skills might be shared in an effort to see both peoples flourish – betrays his idealistic side. I liked both, just as I did several of the secondary characters, notably Gils (an adorable young boy who shows interest in Lara’s work), Simus (bold, charmingly brash and Keir’s second in command), and Marcus (crusty, fierce, hurting Marcus).
Despite a cultural misunderstanding (which was sparked by a lie), mutual respect and growing affection begins to bind Lara and Keir together, paving the way for their romance. I found myself enjoying the result of that misunderstanding (and actually hoped it would stretch on a bit longer than it did). Strong chemistry and subtle tension ensured that I was with Lara and Keir the whole way. And that, no doubt, is why I immediately jumped to the next book, Warsworn, as soon as this one was done.
Overall, I liked Warprize. It may not make my year end favorites list, but I spent a few pleasant hours with it for company, and sometimes that’s just what you need.