The Magic of Two

Secrets of the Wolf

Starlight, Starbright

The Sorceress & the Savage
by Saranne Dawson
(Lovespell, $5.50, R) ISBN 0-505-52379-5
Shera is a loner in her own tribe, the Bacleev. Gifted with an exceptional power to heal, she has, of late, been plagued by visions of a savage man and a large cat-like beast. Sheís not terribly comfortable discussing these visions with her fellow tribesmen or even her parents, because sheís always been somewhat of a disappointment. She is lax in her rituals when it comes to worshipping the gods, for she always senses an evil presence. When the Bacleev priests inform the tribe that they will be traveling to their long abandoned homeland near the mountains, Shera fears the worst.

The Bacleev left their homeland generations ago for reasons no one seems to know. In fact, they are a people without a past, unsure of their own heritage. But Shera has her suspicions and they begin to be confirmed when she meets up with the savage from her visions.

Gar is the leader of the Walkens, a tribe of people who have lived in peace ever since the Bacleev were expelled from the valley below. When he learns that they are returning after all these years, he and a small band set about to stall them. But he knows it is a losing battle, since his own people desperately want what only the Bacleev can provide. Then he meets Shera, and his own resistance starts to deteriorate as his lustful need for this beautiful enemy grows.

Does an evil presence really haunt the Bacleev? What do the Walkens desire from the Bacleev? Why is there such distrust between the two tribes? Will Gar and Shera be able to overcome these troubles?

When writing a review I always keep in mind five very important questions -- Who, What, When, Where and Why? Where is never even addressed in the book. Does it take place in the future or the past? On Earth or some other planet? And unlike historicals where events can give a reader an idea of the setting, thatís nearly impossible in fanasty.

The romance was also unsatisfying. Within the first 30 pages, Gar kills a man that Shera was close to, and she knows this. Yet she has no reservations when they soon tumble into bed together. The powers of lust may be overwhelming, but it didnít make sense that a seemingly smart woman like Shera would have sex with a known murderer.

In all fairness though, Gar isnít the only murderer lurking about. In fact, there are lots of resident skeletons in the area, suggesting that many of them met gruesome deaths. As for living folks who meet an untimely end during the course of this story, the death toll manages to rise higher than a lot of mysteries. While this didnít really trouble me, numerous dead bodies popping up in a romance novel may bother some readers.

Then there is the trust issue between Gar and Shera, which is in large part due to the animosity between their tribes. The priests dispute the existence of an evil presence while Gar vehemently states that the Bacleev worship evil, which heís sure Shera will be unable to resist. However this doesnít stop them from repeatedly ripping off their clothes and devouring each other. They apparently trust each other enough to think the other wonít stab them in the back during lovemaking.

While all this is going on, Shera is trying to uncover the truth about the Bacleevís past and stop the evil she is sure resides in their homeland. Since the priests are less than forthcoming, that leaves only Gar who knows the truth. Yet when Shera repeatedly begs for answers, he stonewalls her -- even after she is truthful with him about certain events that befall her during the course of the story.

Even with these problems, I did enjoy the element of suspense that Dawson weaves into this tale. I wanted to know if the Bacleev did in fact worship evil and if Shera would be able to stop her tribe from repeating a disastrous history. This battle between good vs. evil was enough to keep me turning the pages, anxiously awaiting the resolution and climatic finish. I just wasnít so enchanted with the romance.

--Wendy Crutcher

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