The Colors of Passion and Love, by Stan Morris
(I won a free copy of this book in the Library of Erana Valentine's Day giveaway, and I would like to thank Library of Erana and the author for the book.)
I really wasn't sure what to expect from this book when I won a copy of it. The cover on the edition I received looked like it might be a children's book (in spite of the title), but I was delighted to discover that it's a very charming romantic fantasy (and it's definitely for adults and older teens, with some mildly to moderately explicit love scenes).
Elly, the Princess of Quail, has the gift of the women in her family to see the colors of men's auras and emotions. So when she sees Magesty, the bastard son of an enemy king, for the first time, she knows they were destined to be together. Fortunately, Magesty is open to the idea, if a little wary. As the two of them are feeling their way around their budding relationship, a treacherous attack on the royal palace of Quail forces them, along with Elly's brother Jode and her best friend Daina, to flee for their lives, to take refuge in Magesty's realm and then to defend against more treachery.
I enjoyed Elly's character as she's in that awkward stage of being both a sheltered teenage girl and discovering love and danger for the first time in her life. She's brave and smart, and although she makes a few mistakes along the way, she avoids the trap so many spunky teenage fantasy heroines fall into of doing stupid things just to show that they're strong and independent. Magesty is also admirable; he's older and more experienced, but when he finds himself faced with a young girl - the daughter of his country's enemy, no less - claiming that they were destined to be together, he handles it well. He becomes an ideal friend, protector, and lover, and takes care to do the right and honorable thing for her.
After an intriguing and exciting beginning, where Elly and Magesty begin their relationship and the palace is attacked, parts of the middle of the book were slow. We get a tour of the lands that Elly, Magesty, Jode, and Daina pass through to get to Magesty's personal realm of Arete. They're being pursued by enemies, but there isn't as much sense of danger and tension as I would have liked, and some political intrigue also slows things down a bit. But the land is beautiful and Elly and Magesty's developing relationship is sweet enough to make that part enjoyable. Then the last part picks up again as their enemies corner them in their refuge.
Written in a clear, pleasant style, with lots of colorful detail (color is very important in this book), this is an enjoyable book and I would like to read more about these characters and this world.
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