Pros: Wonderful characters; great plot; tense action; sweet romance
Rating: 5 out of 5
Elizabeth Vaughan’s Dagger-Star (I keep wanting to call it Red Gloves!) was one of my wonderful book discoveries of last year. So when I saw that the sequel, White Star, had arrived on my doorstep, I couldn’t wait to read it! It lived up to my expectations beautifully, and is book ten of my recommended Spring reading series.
The Lady High Priestess Evelyn is about as pure and virtuous a lady as you’ll find. Her hair is long and white. She’s sweet-natured, although quite strong in her own right. She’s a healer, and she was one of the leaders of the rebellion against a cruel and horrible power. Everyone loves her—sometimes too much for her own good.
Orrin Blackhart, on the other hand, is everything hated. He served the evil Baroness, leading her armies, and didn’t stop her when she began to create her foul undead. He even took Evelyn prisoner for her. When she doesn’t return from the war, however, and his mind turns toward how best to save his men from the remaining undead, he finds he has no desire to harm the priestess. And he’d rather face the judgment of her people, however deadly, than see his men die. Evelyn is perhaps the only one optimistic enough to see the honor in him, that he isn’t as evil as everyone believes him. In a moment of strength? weakness? she saves his life, only to leave him bound to cleanse the lands of undead—or die trying. And as a consequence, she leaves herself vulnerable to the appetites of the unwholesome Archbishop.
Although Evelyn and Orrin sound like good guy/bad guy stereotypes, they are anything but. Evelyn has spirit, regrets, and impulsiveness; she has plenty of traits and memories to make her unique and fascinating. For his part, Orrin is dark enough to be believable in his role, yet his own regrets and form of honor make it believable that Evelyn and his men could see something more in him. The romance and sexual content are warm and beautiful, the perfect thing for sunny Spring reading.
The fantasy material, however, delivers plenty of tension and excitement as contrast, background, and plot disruption. The undead should have fallen inactive when the Baroness died at the end of Dagger-Star, yet for some reason they haven’t. Have they become self-sustaining? Has a greater, more deadly power taken them over?
It’s Orrin’s job to figure out what’s going on, save as many people as possible (whether they make it easy to save them or not), and get rid of the threat. But something definitely seems to be guiding the undead—something with a malevolent purpose and intelligence—and even making more of them. If it isn’t stopped, and soon, Orrin’s people will die. And to make things worse, the undead seem to be after Evelyn.
There’s tension, turmoil, and adventure on every page. The characters—main and side alike—are interesting and enjoyable. The sex is fun, and the romance is undeniably sweet. All in all, this is a fantastic way to head into Spring!