Drink of Me by Jacquelyn Frank
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jacquelyn Frank delivers another outstanding paranormal romance that, while starting slow as most of her books do, had me riveted to the pages by the end.
From the blurb:
In a world where emotion can be a deadly weapon, one slight, battered runaway holds the key to a dark and twisted enigma..."Drink Of Me", she whispers, her silver eyes trusting, pleading. What female dares speak such words to one of the Sange? His people are scorned by every race for their fierce sensuality, their fearful rituals. And as Prime, Reule is the most telepathically gifted of them all. But nothing has prepared him for the intensity of emotion radiating from the outlander rescued by his Pack. Terrified, tormented, but beautiful beyond measure, Mystique shatters his legendary control. As she reaches for him in the steamy heat of the healing baths, he knows this blind need can have but one end.
Reule is the Prime, the king, of the Sange, a race of blood drinkers who live in the cold and nearly barren lands in the North of this world. He leads his people with the help of his Pack, a group of warriors with specific talents and assignments. Their worst enemies are the Jakals, a race of vicious evil who feed on the emotions of other races.
When Reule and his Pack are hunting Jakals who have taken one of his Packmates to torture, he also finds a young girl hidden in the attic of the abandoned house, shivering, and nearly dead. When he rescues her and brings her home to his keep, he finds that the girl is in fact a small woman who seems to know about his race. She has no memories of her past, not even her own name, and is thus given the name Mystique.
Over the course of the next months, she becomes an integral part of his court and his heart, despite being an outlander, despite the misgivings of his fellow Sange, by proving herself time and again as someone trustworthy.
There are the usual plot points Jacquelyn Frank employs with great success:
- the strong, conscience-driven male who has so far resisted all others from tying him down
- the instant, irrational attraction between the two main characters
- the male guilt for feeling the attraction and wanting to pursue the female
- the explosive consummation of the overpowering attraction
The author used those plot points well in her Nightwalker series and they work like a charm in this book as well.
The world building is magnificent. There is no info dump but we are introduced bit by bit into this fascinating mythology and the history of the Sange, and how they came to live at the current location, how their history has shaped the consciousness of its people, how their powers work, etc.
The author also weaves a finely crafted plot throughout the book which culminates in a few very emotional scenes as Mystique is confronted with her own history, relives that what she has successfully suppressed until then and finds that her adoptive people stand by her against a threat she never saw coming.
The main characters are well developed and their growth through the book is realistic and reasonable. The supporting cast are also exceptionally crafted and give the book much substance to support the budding relationship between the Prime and his Prima.
While the author has not yet announced it, I sincerely hope that this story will be developed into another series as I would love to see the other warriors' stories explored.
Well done, Ms. Frank. You convinced me of your craft with the Nightwalker series and this book is some very delicious icing on that cake.
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