Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book Review/Trailer: Awaited, by Lynn Rush, with A Bonus Review for Prelude to Darkness

Awaited, by Lynn Rush
Crescent Moon Press, May 1, 2012 (Today!)

The voice is a powerful thing…

Russell Leonard is a centuries-old Guardian who’s lost faith in his purpose. So when he’s charged with procuring the first female Guardian in over two centuries, he can only hope it’s the red-headed beauty who’s been haunting his dreams for months. And if it is, he intends to claim her as his. But when he finds his dream woman, Annabelle is mute and bears no Guardian’s Mark.

He soon realizes she’s been tainted by an ancient evil. Russell must somehow release the secrets trapped within this delicate, mute beauty, to help her tap into the only weapon powerful enough to silence a millennia-old demon—her voice.

Awaited opens with Guardians Russell and Durk seated on a private jet, en route to a small Colorado town to retrieve a young woman. She is the first female to born in centuries. They would have preferred to drive for the legroom, trunk space for weapons, and the privacy to speak freely, but Jessica, their enigmatic 56-going on-17 leader, insisted they be on that flight. Annoyed but obedient, they comply with her other strange instructions even while wondering what she knows but won’t tell them. They take extra socks. She gives a bag she packed with matches and a foil blanket. She slips in three granola bars. All of it becomes necessary for their survival when the plane crashes in the Rockies, killing everyone on board except them and a female in the cockpit.

And that’s when things get weird.

Russell has been dreaming about this young woman for three-months. She can hear, but she can’t talk. She trusts Russell on sight, but she looks at Durk like he’s made candid comments to eat her. She has Guardian-like powers, but not the Mark that would identify her as their object of their search. And she has an awful secret.

Awaited is book two in Lynn Rush’s Wasteland series, which takes the reader into a bizarre world of immortals that walk among us. Wasteland introduced us to half-demon David Sadler and Guardian queen Bekka, who are mentioned through the sequel. In Awaited, we learn more about Bekka’s former sidekick, Russell Leonard, a jaded warrior who is going through the motions of serving The Light while wondering for what reason they bother. At his very core, he’s a lonely man looking for a purpose. He’s never before thought about love, but since having dreams of a honey-eyed woman, belonging to someone beside Archangel Michael becomes like an open wound. When Annabel quite literally falls into his arms, his pain sparks an obsession to claim her as his bonded mate.

During my reading of Wasteland, I felt the attention to David's urges a bit excessive. It is almost a third main character of the story, easily overshadowing his mission to deliver a certain teenage girl to his Master. From the beginning of that book, David restrained his urge to outright violate the Guardian queen because doing so would mean losing his soul; he had refused for centuries to give his Master the satisfaction of completely owning him. As Bekka’s attraction to David steadily grew hot enough to sear, his resolve was steeled by a more powerful desire to protect her, firstly from himself.

Russell’s situation is different, but he and David shared one very important aspect…they’re 400-year-old virgins when the right woman enters the scene at the exact right time. (We are talking about people governed by fate, after all.) While reading Awaited, I considered David as I read about Russell, and this time I found their obsession to claim and protect the women they love appropriate.

Wasteland’s relentless pace continues in Awaited as Russell and Durk fight a demon gang and navigate the Colorado Rockies on foot with a human in tow that is both more and less vulnerable than she appears. The series continues with the as-of-yet untitled Wasteland #3, which is Durk’s story after the events of Awaited render him a heartbroken, angry rogue. I recommend this series to fans of Rebecca Hamilton and Jordan K. Rose.

Awaited will available for purchase tomorrow, May 1st.

Rating: ★★★★★

BONUS Review!

Prelude to Darkness (Wasteland 0.5)
Crescent Moon Press, May 7, 2012

For a slave, hope is a dangerous thing.

Margaret Rousseau dreams of freedom from a life of servitude. When a mysterious woman saunters into the servants’ tavern promising the impossible, Margaret dares to hope she could win the heart of the one man she has secretly coveted since she first wore a corset...

The Prince.

Margaret desperately grasps for the opportunity to change her bleak destiny by placing faith in a woman who is not as forthcoming as she seems. Blinded to the stranger’s dark motives, Margaret surrenders herself to gain her heart’s desires.

But her choice may bring forth a darkness that could destroy all she holds dear.

Margaret Rousseau is a young, ambitious servant of England’s royal family. While not mentioned in the story, the setting is in the latter half of the 17th century, likely during the restored Stuart years. That’s neither here nor there to the young maid, who thought her deepest desire in the world was to dive into the Queen’s steaming bathtub for a proper soak. She’s wrong, though. She knows she’s wrong when the busy Queen offers the bath to her son, Edward, and he sends her fellow maid Anne Marie away. This leaves poor young Margaret alone with a handsome royal who recently tangled with ruffians and can’t quite reach his own back to scrub off the stench of his travels.

Prelude to Darkness is a parable of sorts, a fairy tale with a tragic ending. It stands alone, but those who read Wasteland prior to Prelude will know the consequences of Margaret’s greed and naïveté. But while David is well within his rights to hold a grudge against the woman who sold his soul to a demon, a reader would be hard pressed to judge her too harshly at the end of her story.

Imagine your neighbor’s teen daughter is given an opportunity to spend some quality time with Robert Pattison. While chatting about whatever, he gets an itch on his back that he can’t reach. While she’s helping him out, he asks if she’s got a boyfriend. Perhaps he’s just making conversation, but it sets the wheels turning in her head. Could he really be interested me? This is the situation in which Margaret finds herself in Prelude’s first chapter. How many young women fall prey to the sparkly charms of young men with far less going for them than Robert? It’s really not hard to see how the young maid’s story goes sideways in a hurry.

Margaret betrays three people in this story. First, her son when she commits to the terms of a demon’s offer. Second, she betrays herself when she signs it. All she truly wants is to be loved, to be cared for as she cares for Queen and her family. She’s had that man in her life for years, and her poor choices punish him as well for loving her unconditionally.

Lynn Rush’s writing is slower paced in this short than in the related Wasteland novels. It is also tighter and more nuanced. Fans of the Wasteland series will want to read Prelude to Darkness to answer the nagging question of how Margaret came to sell her son’s soul. It may also appeal to younger fans of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Rating: ★★★★★

Driven to write, Lynn Rush often sees her characters by closing her eyes watching their story unfold in her mind. Lynn Rush is a pen name that is a combination of two sources – Lynn, the first name of her mother-in-law, who passed away and Rush – since the author is a former inline speed skater and mountain biker. All of Rush’s books are dedicated to Lynn, her namesake.

Rush holds a degree in psychology from Southwest Minnesota State University and a master's degree from the University of Iowa. Originally from Minneapolis, Rush currently enjoys living in the Arizona sunshine by road biking nearly 100 miles per week with her husband of 15 years and jogging with her two loveable Shetland Sheep dogs.

Fans may adore Lynn by visiting these links:

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