I grabbed Red Rope of Fate, by K.M. Shea, from the Amazon KDP list. After finishing The Weight of Blood, which was quite heavy, I needed something light and fluffy to make myself feel better. It did the trick.
Description from Goodreads:
In the epic stories falling in love is often described as a beautiful, wonderful experience. Tari finds it to be life threatening, embarrassing, and nothing but heartache.
When Tari, an elf, is selected to be bound to Captain Arion, a human military officer, in a ceremony designed to promote friendship between their countries it is discovered that the two can communicate with each other in spite of the language barrier. Not everyone is supportive of the change Tari and Arion symbolize, so in addition to attending evening teas and royal luncheons Tari and Arion dodge kidnapping attempts and blackmail plots crafted by powerful political figures.
In spite of the court intrigue, Tari is dumbfounded when she realizes she has fallen in love with Arion, who has the emotional capabilities of a rock. As both human and elf society dictate that an elf and a human can never be together, Tari must conceal her feelings. Unfortunately the taciturn Arion is watchful and attentive to Tari’s well being, constantly pushing her to her limits with his loyalty, friendship, and dreadfully informal habit of touching her.
If Tari and Arion survive, their tumultuous relationship will either strengthen their countries’ alliance, or cripple the human courts of nobility. The deciding factor will be Arion, and his indecipherable feelings for Tari.
Ok, so that was just plain sweet…exactly what I was looking for. Even before any of the romance emerged Tari and Arion’s interactions were a joy to behold. They both had a certain dry wit about them that I appreciated. I did wonder that Tari could remain quite sooooo oblivious for quite soooo long and how exactly she managed to keep her secret from Arion. But it was still fun.
The two kings had a lot of personality for side characters. The Seer, the soldiers, and the family were engaging, and both Tari and Arion came out with some really funny one-liners. There was the occasional cultural mishap, ok the whole latter half of the romance sort of hinged on one, but it still made me smile. Then there was Arion’s additional confession. That was worth reading the book for all on its own.
The mystery, though secondary to the plot really, was interesting. As was the true role of the Evening Stars. Though I could take issue with the inference that women, even highly trained and skilled women don’t have the heart for real battle, I think I’ll let it pass. You do see the end coming from a mile away but that only heightens the anticipation. You know that HEA is on the horizon and you just can’t wait.
It’s also worth mentioning that this is a standalone book. These feel like they’re getting rarer these days, so I’m thrilled to come across one. I have another of Ms. Shea’s books on my TBR, and I’ll be keeping my eye open for more. She’s definitely made it on my radar.
On a side note Ms. Shea has a promotion running on her blog in which anyone who writes a legitimate Amazon review and then emails it to her can get an additional chapter to the book. Apparently, it falls outside of the timeline of the book, so it really is just a bonus.