Selia lives on the edge of civilization. Nearby, the feared Svistra raid villages and feed on human blood. But she never really considers that the monstrous warriors will ever target her or the small tavern that she runs. And she is right, in a way. When she comes across the Svitra she comes to know as Jaden, he's not attacking. He is being attacked. Selia doesn't realize he's not human when she intervenes and kills the men beating him. It's not until she inspects his battered body that she figures out what he is. But she can't turn her back on his suffering. So she and her adopted brother Oren work to nurse him back to health.
As Jaden recovers, he becomes friends with his human saviors. So when the sweet and simple Oren is conscripted into the human army, he helps Selia travel into danger to free him. Together, they must face treacherous and magical lands and soldiers who would attack them on sight. Not only that, but the Svistra are searching for Jaden. His power-hungry brother Keldar has taken over as leader of their people and he wants Jaden dead as a means to secure and maintain his power.
The dynamic between Jaden and Selia is what makes this book sing. At times, it seems a love triangle may be formed with them and a human army commander named Nathan. But it's plain to see that Selia will never really be truly happy with anyone other than Jaden. Their feelings for one another develop naturally, believably. Despite the great differences between them, they find common ground -- that leads to friendship, trust, and eventually attraction and love.
The storyline is really good and took me places I didn't expect. The beginning was kind of slow and the world-building was sprawling at times. We had a lot to learn about the people, their lands, and their history. The huge amounts of information detracted from the characters at times. I also found myself frustrated with too many cutaways to Keldar's POV. But every time we came back to Selia and Jaden, I felt like the story was worth my time.
Then we got to the end. (Spoilers ahead.) I know that sex isn't a part of every book, but I felt like a physical relationship between these two was like a carrot on a string that led me through 350 pages of this book.
Yeah, we got a "happy" ending. But I felt robbed that we didn't get to see these two come together on-page. I stayed up reading until one o'clock in the morning to get a payoff that never came. A payoff that this couple (and the readers) deserved. And it made me leave the book feeling angry and having mixed feelings about the story as a whole. I think one more well crafted chapter, letting us see these two finally give in to their feelings would have gone a long way.
3 1/2 stars. *ARC Provided by NetGalley