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Warrior: The Blades of the Rose
by Zoe Archer
(Kensington, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-1-4201-0679-4
****
Warrior by Zoe Archer is the first book in the Blades of the Rose series. It is an enchanting story about a retired army officer who finds himself entangled in world of magic and is fighting to keep the powers safe.

Captain Gabriel Huntley has just retired from the English army and is traveling back to the motherland to a promise of a job and many prospective single women from which he can choose to be his wife. He knows it is time to settle into a regular life, but part of him is scared his life will become mundane and unexciting.

Shortly after exiting the ship on the home dock, Huntley encounters a fight between four men – it is three against one. His instincts kick in and he is compelled to help the man in trouble, Morris. During the scuffle, Morris is stabbed and the attackers run off. Huntley helps calm Morris, but they both know Morris is not going to make it. Morris gives Huntley a message that he insists must be given to Franklin Burgess in Mongolia. Huntley at first doesn’t want to go, but quickly reminds himself of the unexciting life waiting for him, so he agrees.

Huntley travels to Mongolia and finds Franklin Burgess and his daughter, Thalia Burgess. Thalia is not your ordinary woman. She is an Englishwoman, but would not be classified as a lady. There is an instant attraction and Huntley starts to think that even though most English women are ordinary and average, maybe there are some exceptions out there.

The message that Huntley delivers is not good news for the Burgesses. They won’t give any information to Huntley and since his task is complete, they send him away. He leaves the Burgesses and has no reason to stay in the area, but feels inclined to see what the Burgesses are up to.

The next morning, Huntley follows Thalia out of town when he sees her leaving by horseback with a servant. Thalia and her servant are quickly ambushed by a group of men and Huntley is instantly there to help them. Thalia does not want Huntley around because her mission is a secret and she needs to ensure it stays that way, but she reluctantly lets him stay.

The next day, the group is caught in a storm. The storm is so strong and ferocious that it seems like it is out to kill, and is almost successful. After much turmoil and stress the storm passes and Huntley confronts Thalia. He is adamant that she tells him what is going on. Thalia gives in and tells the story. She describes the intense power in the world that comes from magic and all people are unknowingly surrounded by it. She tells him that the storm they just encountered was due to the Norse thunder god, Thor.

Thalia goes on to say that all over the world there are repositories of magic called Sources that are kept well hidden and protected by people like Morris and the Burgesses. They are protected to ensure they are not taken by a group called the Heirs and exploited for the purposes of people or countries trying to garner their own advancement. The people who protect the Sources are called “The Blades of the Rose.”

Warrior The romantic relationship in Warrior is sweet and Huntley is every woman’s dream. Huntley falls for Thalia so hard that every thought and action he takes is with Thalia in mind. He cherishes and adores her. Most women would love for this to be real, but the book overdoes it to the point where it is no longer realistic.

For an action book, Warrior is able to keep the conflict consistent and while there are slower parts to the book, there are enough obstacles and complications to keep the story line going. The writing is done well and flows with ease and the dialogue is suitable for the plot. The adventures and magical elements of the story add enough plot that the romance theme does not seem as formulaic.

I would recommend Warrior for others to read. It was a pleasant balance between romance and action and the characters were enjoyable.

--Nichole Howell


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