Merlin's Legacy: Daughter of the Mist
by Quinn Taylor Evans
(Zebra, $5.50, R) ISBN:0-8217-5347-9
Book 1, Daughter of Fire, was a good read, but Book 2, Daughter of the Mist was even better! (And from the excerpt in the back of Book 2 for Daughter of the Light, Book 3 should be the best.) I guess I liked this one more because there were additional mystical elements. Plus, I've always been a sucker for a dark haired, blue-eyed hunk.

The second of Merlin's daughters has been adopted by a Scottish laird. Unlike Vivian, Brianna does not know her true heritage, but still accepts her unusual abilities. After refusing the proposal of the barbaric Norseman, Mardigan, her home is besieged by his band of raiders and her family and many of her clan brutally murdered. Brianna, with the help of her trusted guardian, Thomas, barely escapes. Upon her return, as she is trying to rally the remaining clan members, her home is overrun by a Norman army.

Having once saved the mysterious dark skinned stranger with blue eyes, Brianna is enraged when Tarek al Sharif comes back to Scotland, declaring her father's land is now his. But Tarek's motives are not all for greed. He was captivated by the green-eyed blonde beauty who seemed to appear out of the mist and warn him of his danger. Ever since, he had dreamed of returning to his elusive spirit and claim her for his own. Finding her home destroyed and Brianna now assuming the clan chief's responsibilities, Tarek takes advantage of her situation and coerces her into marrying him, thinking he can eventually tame her wild spirit and teach her to love him. But even darker powers than either can imagine have joined forces with the evil Mardigan and both are bent on possessing Brianna.

If Daughter of Fire was a stay-up-all-night page turner, then Daughter of the Mist is a can't-put-it- down, read-it-in-one-sitting kind of book. Don't start this book unless you have plenty of time to finish it. Ms. Evans has included many more supernatural elements in this story and adds several more details to her version of the legend of Merlin. Like a complex puzzle, the pieces are slowly coming together and, from all indications so far, Book 3 should bring the final parts of the complete tale to a worthwhile conclusion.

Where Vivian was a feisty healer, Brianna is as elusive as, well, the mist. Hence the name of the book, I guess. Closely guarding the secret of her shape-shifting, Brianna believes she can marry the virile Byzantine and still keep her virginity. She has been told that as long as she remains untouched, she will keep her powers. But as Tarek arouses her sensuality, Brianna finds her desires almost overpowering her need to focus on saving her clan. Tarek has all the traits of a perfect Beta hero. He is an honorable man, romantic, and patient almost to a fault. I'd invite him home to slay my dragons any day. I also enjoyed the romantic subplot between two of the minor characters, Thomas and Enya, which could easily be enhanced into a story of their own.

I only wish Ms. Evan's had given us a more information about Stephen, King William's bastard son, like she did for Tarek in Book 1. Stephen is paired with Merlin's third daughter when he somehow tumbles through time and space and lands in Camelot in the final book, Daughter of the Light, due out in January 1997.

--Susan Bontley

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