War with their archrival, the evil Ansara clan, is unavoidable. For Mercy Raintree, a war means she must assume her position as guardian of the Sanctuary—the sacred Raintree home place deep in the Smoky Mountains. But doing so threatens to disclose her most prized secret—one Mercy has kept to herself for six years.
As the solstice looms and the battle heats up, Dranir Judah Ansara gathers his forces, intending to wipe every Raintree from the face of the land. Including Mercy, whom he's claimed as his to kill. Then he comes face-to-face with her—and with her daughter, Eve. Will Mercy's closely guarded secret change not only the outcome of the battle…but also Judah's own bitter heart?
This is the last book of the Raintree trilogy (1st - Raintree: Inferno by Linda Howard 2nd - Raintree: Haunted by Linda Winstead Jones). This is my favorite in the trilogy. After a rocky start with Howard's Inferno, the series really picked up with the 2nd book and got even better with this one.
Wow. This book was intense. The two previous books were spent telling the story between the Raintree and Ansara clans. All we know is that the Ansara clan tried to kill both Dante, the Raintree Dranir and Gideon, the Raintree Prince. So they're some evil freaking people, obviously. Needless to say, it makes for darn good reading when the hero of the third book IS an Ansara. And not just any Ansara, but the Ansara Dranir.
The Raintree obviously got cocky in their belief that the Ansara were no longer a threat to them. Hello? Dante seemed like a smart guy. So the fact that after 200 years, the Raintree thought the Ansara were still wiped out was pretty arrogant.
Cael Ansara was first introduced in Raintree: Inferno when he tried to have Dante killed. We follow him through to this book where we learn that he is one crazy S.O.B. He is half brother to Judah Ansara, the Dranir of the Ansara clan. Cael is the older brother, so he thinks that he should be Dranir even though he's a psycho and a bastard. In the 1st chapter of the book, Cael tries to have Judah killed. So it starts out with a bang. Soon after Judah kills his attackers, he finds out that Cael sent an assassin to the Raintree Sanctuary to kill Mercy Raintree. That's when Judah says that as Dranir, he claims Mercy Raintree as his kill.
So what kind of romance can this be when for over half the book, Judah is determined to kill Mercy, while Mercy is determined to kill Judah? A damn good one! See, Mercy has a secret that she has kept for six years. Her daughter, Eve, is half Ansara. Seven years ago, Judah seduced Mercy just because she was the Raintree Princess. Mercy had no idea who Judah was until she realized she was pregnant. Then she ran. Both Mercy and Judah had never forgotten each other or the night they spent together. For Mercy, she has a reminder every day in her daughter. Judah just knows that he'll kill Mercy quickly. It was a little distasteful that Judah acknowledged that he would kill any Raintree children. Other than that, I had no problem with Judah wanting to kill Mercy. It was his inner struggle that made it especially good.
During the course of the book, Mercy knew that she would eventually fight Judah to the death for their daughter. She was still oblivious to the fact that the Ansara were once again a powerful clan and that the Ansara Dranir was the father of her child. Seeing how Judah bonded with his daughter, you knew that he wouldn't kill Mercy. Of course it took him forever to realize that, but then again, he is a man.
Cael Ansara was still determined to take on the Raintree and kill Judah because he wanted to rule the whole Earth. Including all the humans. Oh joy. That is fun to think about. The final battle at Sanctuary is intense. Mercy is the type of heroine I love. Though she is strong, she's still a mother who is trying to save her child. She's still the keeper of Sanctuary, who is trying to save her clan. She's still a healer. By the time the battle begins, she admits to herself that she still loves Judah, but she knows she'll still have to kill them for the sake of her daughter's future. She is a little slow because she didn't realize that Judah came to fight against Cael instead of with him.
One small issue I had. It really is a small one. Eve is six years old. I have a six year old. Six year olds don't talk like she does. Maybe magical ones do, but my six year old doesn't use logic like this one did. She was more like a 10 year old. So that got me hung up in places, but I tried to excuse it b/c she was magical. Or I tried to ignore it.
Overall, this was a fine ending to the series. I definitely recommend all three books in the series.
4.5 out of 5 stars.