Title: The Goddess's Choice
Author: Jamie Marchant
Publisher: Reliquary Press
Publishing Date: April 2012
Editions: print / e-book (kindle)
Length: 374 pages
Samantha's ability enables her to discern a person's character through their multi-colored aura, and Robrek's makes him the strongest healer the kingdom has seen in centuries. But their gifts also endanger their lives. Royals scheme to usurp the throne by marrying or killing Samantha, and priests plot to burn Robrek at the stake. Robrek escapes the priests only to be captured by Samantha's arch-enemy, Duke Argblutal; Argblutal intends to force the princess to marry him by exploiting Robrek's powers. To save their own lives and stop the realm from sinking into civil war, Robrek and Samantha must consolidate their powers and unite the people behind them.
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Princess Samantha is the heir apparent to Korthlundia's throne. Her father, King Solar II, is aging and pressing her to choose a consort. She is 17 years old, already 4 years older than her mother had been when she married Solar. The age of majority isn't until 21 and there is already contention in regards to the throne. Samantha is a well-loved spoiled daughter, but bright and precocious. Sneaking off with a few disguised guards and the Master of the Horse, she is set on getting herself a new mare at the horse fair.
Robbie is the son of Angus, a farmer, in a little back water town of Lundia. Beaten, starved, and generally treated worse than a cockroach, Robbie has a special gift of being able to talk to / understand animals and help them heal. Viewed as demon spawn in the town, Robbie is utterly bereft and alone, except for the animals and the mystical Horsestad, Wild Thing, who has chosen to be with him. Angus recognizes Robbie's talent and drags him to this horse fair. And that is where are our two protagonists meet.
From there we follow Samantha's growth and development from a precocious Princess to Queen and Robbie's transformation from beaten, downtrodden, second son to Robrek the healer/amihealer, a confident young man who comes into his own. Of course, the story is about much more.
Daring swordfights, magic spells, a prince in disguise! Well, okay, I didn't mean to go the whole Belle of Beauty & the Beast on you, but there are all those elements in this book. From a nefarious evil-doer (seriously, he's a Class One Creep) to cowardly & greedy followers to magical and mystical, I enjoyed this book immensely.
At times I was frustrated with Robrek's inability to accept his destiny and embrace it. He seems to fight it just SO much, but then again, who wouldn't want confronted with talking horses that give cryptic answers? And I was frustrated by Samantha not asserting herself a bit more strongly when it came to her father the King, especially as the Duke was wresting control from him. However, without her hesitancy and allowing the delay of another day (oh fine, I'll see him tomorrow!) there wouldnt' have been the progression of evil that just kept spreading.
If this was book one, I'm completely prepared to lose another night's sleep over book two. Perhaps I will remember to set the day aside to read instead of curling up with it at night and being unable to put it down? Well written, kept my attention, did not knock me out of Reader Zone, endearing characters all with their own little quirks, and that touch of whimsy that makes you wish that somewhere this world exists.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a review copy received from the author in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any form.