Lady X's Cowboy

Love in a Bottle



Rebel by Zoe Archer
(Zebra Books, $6.99, PG13) ISBN 978-1-4201-0681-7
Rebel, I love you. I have been waiting awhile for you to come along. I have been mired in three heart books, hoping that a novel will come by and sweep me off my feet, and here you are.

Nathan Lesperance is our intense hero, and he’s been a fighter his whole life. He was ripped from his native tribe as a young child and raised by the teachers in a British school who wanted to rip the native parts out of him. They trivialized his heritage, his family and his culture. Instead of fighting the system, Nathan decided to fight within the system and became Vancouver’s first Native lawyer, fighting for the underdog in every case he took, mourning the loss of his family.

When Nathan was finally able to go home after his schooling, he found his family dead of illness, and he still grieves their loss. Nathan takes a routine, if unpleasant assignment with his firm to journey to a remote Canadian trading post to retrieve a deceased client’s possessions, and there he meets Astrid Bramfield, a lady who throws his toughened hide for a loop.

Astrid was a Blade of the Rose, a protector of the world’s magic, as well as a very happily married woman. That was a long time ago. Now Astrid, a keeper of secrets and grief, is hiding out in the remote wilderness, trying to heal without success. She meets Nathan as she goes to the trading post to deliver her deceased neighbor’s possessions, and then everything in her isolated life changes.

When Astrid and Nathan meet, there is an instant, electric connection between them, but Astrid very quickly realizes something else: that the Heirs, enemies of the Blades of the Rose, have discovered her sanctuary and are on their way to take her hostage. Astrid can detect magic after her years of seeking it as a Blade, and she knows that Nathan is carrying a powerful, different kind of magic within him. Astrid is equally sure that Nathan doesn’t know his own capabilities, or the danger of the men that now stalk them both. Now, whether she likes it or not, the lure of the Blade’s mission is back, and Astrid and Nathan are on a quest to defeat the bad guys while helping Nathan discover who he is, and where he comes from.

Rebel is the third book in Zoe Archer’s “The Blades of the Rose” series, and I didn’t know it until I checked the book jacket. Zoe Archer has the rare gift of alluding to other stories within a story that make you ache to read them, without making you feel that you have missed some great portion of background story, leaving you confused about the tale you are actually reading at the moment.

Nathan is a perfect alpha male, overpoweringly strong, determined and sexy. I loved everything from his take-no-prisoners attitude, his devotion to any cause he chooses, and his passion. Tempering his extreme attitude is Nathan’s natural gentleness. He is cognizant that not everyone is as strong as he is, and he loves to lend his strength to help those around him. He’s also patient, which helps him woo Astrid, as she’s a giant challenge.

Astrid is locked up in an invisible cage of rage and grief over the loss of her wonderful, murdered husband Michael. She not only lost Michael, she lost her life’s purpose as she felt that she had to leave the Blades of the Rose, where she and Michael shared their lives work. She left her family, her friends, England, and secluded herself in the beautiful, harsh landscape of the Canadian tundra. Astrid has eventually started to feel lonely, and directionless as her grief has become more manageable. She is unable to allow herself to start living again, even though she might be ready to move on with her life. Nathan rips through her comfortably set up life and touches all of the raw places in her heart. Predictably, she reacts badly, trying desperately to protect herself from this new threat of emotional thawing.

Nathan and Astrid, complex as they are, start into an adventure of epic proportion, with all sorts of magic, enemies, old friends, and new discoveries. Their journey is set against the unbelievably beautiful backdrop of the majestic Rocky Mountains, described in stunning detail to the degree that the reader shivers just thinking of the layers of snow and ice that our leading couple has to travel. I especially appreciated the depth of this detail as I live the area that Archer describes so vividly, as I would know if she missed a beat, and she doesn’t.

I’m going to order the two previous “Blades of the Rose” books on Amazon as soon as I can, and I invite you to join me by reading this wonderful series.

--Amy Wroblewsky

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