As with most of my series, this one has very strong, kick-ass women characters who, much to the relief of my friend and reader Rob G., aren’t men haters and bashers. I definitely enjoyed getting to know King Leopold in this book. His personality and leadership really began to shine, and his obvious affection for his cousin, Duchess Bree Makena, shows through. His love for his ten-year-old son, Prince Darius, is evident as well.
Speaking of the crown prince, we begin to see how very much he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps, although there are times where learning to be everything to everyone can be a little overwhelming for the young man. And of course, Kaiti, The Spirit Child is learning and adapting to Anacafrian ways while still learning about how she can help the Spirit Guides battle the Tevaiedin.
I also had fun with the healer Becca Solárin and her Shona lover, Nashotah. The two of them are reunited in Duchess Rising, which causes just a little bit of erotica and romance to appear for the first time in any of my books. Hey, what can I say? They hadn’t seen each other for a while, and well….
Anyway, here’s a brief summary of what you can expect when you once again enter the fantasy world of Ar’rothi:
If you love stories about smart, strong, capable women, swords, kings and queens and Spirit Guides, sprinkled with a touch of lesbian romance, this is the book for you. In Book Two of the fantasy series, The Seven Realms of Ar’rothi, Duchess Aurelia (Bree) Makena, first cousin to the king and the former commander of the elite Huntington’s Cavalry, finds herself once more taking up the sword in defense of her king and kingdom.
Stormy clouds of war are moving against Anacafria on two fronts; the Tevaiedin, the dark spirits of the seven realms, and Desdamea, the cruel and grasping queen of the neighboring country of Organdy, are both gathering their forces in a bid to dominate and destroy the kingdom. The Duchess finds her loyalties divided between her adopted daughter, who is the only one who can lead a defense against the Tevaiedin and her king, who needs her skills as a warrior and as one of the commanders of his elite troops.
Duchess Rising is the second book in a powerful and moving fantasy series by Alison Naomi Holt that will appeal to fans of Anne McCAffrey and Mercedes Lackey — one that blends the lyrical and mystical with pulse-pounding action.