Series: The Legends of Regia
Published by Cold Fire Publishing LLC on December 5, 2013
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Young Adult
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Born in shame. Cast from society. Shape Shifter/Elf hybrid, Forest must fight for any respect she can get. Targeted in her youth by a vampire noble who placed an illegal slave mark on her, she is forced to obey him, no matter what.
Slipping the grip of her master and abandoning the prejudice of Regia, her native world, Forest takes a job on Earth, guarding the portal, using her skills as a warrior to enforce Regia's laws. Now, called home for a black ops mission, Forest must put aside her own prejudice to transport the vampire prince, Syrus, through enemy territory in a time of war.
Prince Syrus, mage and master of the Blood Kata, wants Forest more than he's ever wanted anything. In spite of their mutual mistrust, their attraction cannot be denied. Through the danger of their mission, and the secrets they both keep, it doesn't matter what they feel. Forest is forbidden.
Don’t you hate it when you mean to review a book, and life gets in the way, and suddenly it gets pushed down your to-do list? Well, this was what happened with me over a year ago, when I first read Forbidden Forest by Tenaya Jayne, before we even started our book blog. I remember reading it in one sitting and needing to know immediately what happened in the next book when the first ended in a cliffhanger (so if this is an issue for you, buy the sequel, Forest Fire, right when you get this book, because you’ll probably be as impatient as I was). I read the second book in one sitting too. I know I meant to post a review, but somehow I got sidetracked.
So when I learned the book was going on tour, I took the opportunity to reread it to see if I liked it just as much the second time around. And I did.
First off, there are the characters. I just love good, meaty characters who are heroic yet flawed and have pasts that threaten to drag them down if they’d only quit persevering. And I get a two-for-one deal with Forest and Syrus.
Forest is a half-breed, viewed by many as an abomination; she’s endured horrors at the hands of vampires, and she’s not just given up on finding her true love, or fated mate, but she actively hopes there isn’t one out there for her because of all the difficulties having a partner like her would bring to anyone’s life. Still, despite her issues with self-image and with society, she nevertheless is sworn to protect the land that rejects her, and she is excellent at her job despite the fact that her genetics keep her from moving up in the ranks. When offered the chance to rectify that by taking on a risky job protecting Syrus, the prince of the vampires she hates so vehemently, who’s actually related to the man who brutalized her, she puts her feelings aside and does her job.
Syrus, on the other hand, was born with the proverbial spoon in his mouth and grew up with the arrogance to match it; however, all this was taken away when he barely survived an assassination attempt that left him blind. Still, as the sole heir to his father’s throne, he must risk his life to try to regain his sight so he can take his place at the head of the vampire army, which is currently gearing up for war. He is fascinated by Forest from the outset, and he helps her see herself in a new light. They become friends and more than that, and she becomes someone who remains honest with him regardless of his rank, powers, and fits of arrogance. She doesn’t hesitate to take him down a peg, and she reminds him to temper his ideals with practicality.
This novel is very character-centric, so I’d actually consider it more of a fantasy romance than a romantic fantasy, but I did enjoy the world Jayne built, in which portals exist from Regia to other realms, such as Earth, and vampires are blood-drinking Regian natives for whom drinking human blood is highly addictive (the fact that Dracula is Syrus’ curmudgeonly uncle is just precious). I liked the dashes of human culture thrown into the mix—such as Syrus’ choice of breakfast cereal which had me giggling, the Buffy reference that had me inwardly cheering, and the funny Twilight reference that resulted in abs-bearing, something I always approve of.
There was a lot going on, politically speaking, so while I felt the novel could have been tighter and better paced (and a final round of copy editing would’ve been great too), I still found myself thoroughly engaged in this book. Had the second book not been available when I first read Forbidden Forest, I probably would have been tempted to throw a minor tantrum, as even when I reread the book for this blog tour, I found myself immediately hunting up book 2 from my archives and rereading that as well!
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