Sail Away

Some Men's Dreams

 
Deadly Redemption
by Kathleen Korbel
(Silhouette, $5.25, R)  ISBN 978-0-373-61794-4
*****
Lyrical, heartrending, and surprisingly deep for a novel of such a short length, Deadly Redemption surpasses its predecessors and does full justice to Korbel's extensive talent.

Orla, third daughter of Queen Mab of the Tuatha de Dannen, knew she had screwed up almost as soon as she tried to wrest the throne from her mother, allowing, in the meantime, one of their enemy to make off with the Tuatha's most beloved possession, the Coilin stone.

As punishment for her treason, Orla is offered to the Dubhlainn Sidh's king, Cathal, to be married off to one of his nephews. Orla immediately recognizes Liam the Avenger as the man with whom she had conspired and who had betrayed her.

The dark sidh, known to the Tuatha for their fearsome ability to project nightmares, believe that the Tuatha had hundreds of years before stolen their own stone, Dearran. Naturally, they don't open welcoming arms to Orla, especially since she immediately begins trying to emancipate their women. As the women's and children's existence becomes more and more endangered not only by the enemies breaching the portals to other dimensions but by their own men, Orla's abilities and teachings become a quiet quest for security and freedom between the women of the clan. Even the king will not listen when Orla tries to broach the subject of the missing Dearran stone.

The Coilin stone is a masculine presence, created to balance the feminine powers of the matriarchal Tuatha while the Dearran stone's purpose is to offset the testosterone-laden Dubhlainn Sidh. Orla, Liam, the women, and a few warriors are certain that the presence of the aggressive Coilin stone is causing the downfall of polite society among Orla's new clan. And Orla's determined to set things right, hopefully before she has to betray her new home and the husband she's quickly learning means a lot more to her than penitence ...

Category romance or no, Deadly Redemption was fabulous. I enjoyed the two books that came before it, about Orla's sisters and their respective quests as assigned by their mother, Queen Mab. However, Orla's story is damn near poignant, and at times will bring readers close to tears. The individual betrayals by her husband and new family, being uprooted and stripped of her powers, and the frustrations of trying to be and prove herself in a place where the type of person she is just isn't considered socially acceptable make Orla a tragic character. And, as is part of her being, Orla proves them all wrong, the victory made so much more meaningful for all of the struggles she must face before it.

Liam doesn't blossom like Orla does, but he doesn't have as far to come, either.  The cutting blade of his cynicism and bitterness is sharp and very effective; he makes a very good bad guy. The worlds of difference between the two characters and the problems thus created could have had more representation since, for a majority of the book, their only other interractions are sexual, but the characters also have silly little things like wars and crumbling societies on their plates.

Deadly Redemption was superbly timed and as realistic as a fairy tale can be. A book about growth, not giving in, and the old proverb of accepting what you cannot change, Deadly Redemption is certain to be a crowd-pleaser from an author who makes it abundantly clear that she's fluent in the range of human emotions.

--Sarrah Knight


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