Alix Rickloff – “Lost in You”

9 Apr

GENRE: Romance / Paranormal, historical
PUBLISHED: Zebra, 2008

SERIES: might be the first in a series; Dangerous as Sin tells the story of Morgan Bligh, the cousin of the hero in Lost in You

WHY THIS NOVEL: Because I needed to buy books for more than 25€ to get a 5€-off coupon and I thought “Why not try a new author?”

The back blurb:
Cornwall, 1815. Beyond the country balls and genteel society of Regency England lies another realm—where passion and peril collide, and two lovers face an impossible choice…

Conor Bligh is one of the Other—half human, half Fey, part of a brotherhood sworn to protect the divide between the Faery and mortal worlds. Conor is gifted with powers unseen in ten generations, but to destroy the malevolent demon, Asher, he needs much more than strength—he needs Ellery Reskeen.

Brave, quick-witted, and beautiful, Ellery has no idea of the magic that lies dormant within her, or of the danger that surrounds the handsome, rain-soaked stranger who collapses on her doorstep. As she and Conor flee from Asher and his followers, their attraction turns to a searing desire with unimaginable consequences. Only Conor stands between Asher and the destruction he plans for mortal and Fey alike. And the only way to end the threat forever is for Conor to sacrifice the woman he has grown to love more than life itself…”

It paid off to buy this book. Not because it got me the coupon, not because as a book in Zebra’s “debut program” it is just 3.99. No. It’s because Lost in You is a well written story and I liked Rickloff’s voice quite a lot.

Lost in You is a paranormal romance in a historical setting. With no “mine-“growling going on, it was a refreshing change of pace for a paranormal.

The world and characters

There are three kinds of beings in this novel: the humans, the Other, and the Fey. (Most) Humans don’t know of the Others, and the Fey are things of myths. Conor is an Other, someone who is both human and fey. In addition, he’s amhas-draoi – an Other who protects the divide between fey and mortal world – and a Heller – an Other who can call on the abilities and characteristics of his or her “fetch animal.”

Conor is the most powerful Other and amhas-draoi for generations. But contrary to what I’m used to read in paranormal romances, where the hero has to be more badass than everyone else, this fact isn’t constantly shoved under my nose in this novel. Very nice.

Conor feels guilty about the death of his sister. She died because of Asher and he can’t forgive himself for that. It’s like he lost his heart and his wish to defeat Asher is nearly all consuming. It also estranged Conor from his family and let his fey side grow ever stronger. Meeting Ellery changes that, even if it doesn’t look like that at first.

Ellery grew up with her father, who fought in the war. She’s a bastard, and because of that and what she learned and saw about men there, her opinion of men is far from rose-colored. So when she falls for Conor and he tells her again and again that he can’t promise her anything, she’s torn between becoming like her mother – a whore – or turning her back on Conor and her feelings for him.

Ellery takes her being thrown into this magical world fairly in stride, even when it turns out that she has a strange power herself. She, too, has things to learn about herself, but overall, this is Conor’s story.

The premise

Conor is in search of the reliquary that held the fey demon Asher imprisoned. He wants to imprison Asher again. Asher searches for the reliquary, too. He wants to free his two brothers who are still imprisoned in the reliquary. If having Asher free in the world is bad news, having all three brothers free is very bad news. While Asher uses the Keun Marow as his henchmen, beings who are able to track fey magic – and therefore Conor – and who are vicious fighters that feed on fey magic and grow stronger through it, Conor basically just has himself to get the task he set himself done.

The story begins when one night Conor comes to Ellery’s cottage. He’s severely wounded and pursued by the Keun Marow, but it’s not by chance that he turns up there: Ellery is in possession of the reliquary. It’s one of the few things she inherited from her father who died in a horrible fight during the war.

Ellery doesn’t know what the reliquary is. In fact, she hasn’t seen it for a long time and thinks it got lost when she went to live with her cousin in England after her father’s death. Her father probably didn’t know what it is, either. Nevertheless, he managed to free Asher and died together with his comrades in the ensuing battle for the reliquary between Asher and Conor.

Ellery is plunged right into the world of the Other that night. The Keun Marow are on Conor’s track. But more important, when Ellery at first was only sought because she likely had the reliquary, she’s now tracked because she also seems to posses a strange kind of power that attracts the Keun Marow. And Asher. He wants Ellery now.

Ellery and Conor have to flee. They go to Conor’s family because like Conor, most members are Other. But Conor has to wait until Beltane to stand a chance at defeating Asher because the fey and the mortal world are closer then and therefore fey power is stronger. And so Conor and Ellery spend time together. And fall in love.

Conflicts and complications

Lost in You has a neat setup of conflicts. There’s the battle between Conor and Asher for the reliquary and against each other. There’s Conor’s battle between his human and fey side. Both conflicts are tied to and influence the romance and the romantic conflict between Ellery and Conor. The complications all have to do with the outward conflict: how to beat Asher? It’s far from an easy task. And the answers to that question lead to the romantic conflict and to Conor’s inner conflict.

The most straight forward way to eliminate Asher is to sacrifice the one who freed Asher. It would imprison Asher again. Conor already tried to do that: he killed (!) Ellery’s father. Second option: to sacrifice someone related by blood to the one who freed Asher: which would be Ellery. So when Conor and Ellery fall for each other, Conor basically faces the decision to save the one he loves or to save the world. Third option: Conor drawing on old magic. Basically, this would mean he won’t come back from the final confrontation with Asher even if he survives because then he will have lost his humanity (heart) completely. Again, when Conor and Ellery fall for each other…

Conor – and Ellery – face some though decisions. The odds of living their life together are bad no matter what. So it’s actually more a question of what will they do with their remaining time.

Likes and dislikes

I already said it, I like the way Rickloff writes, her voice, and that there is no excessive possessiveness in this novel. I liked Rickloff’s take on the Fey and how she combined myths in this story. I also like the conflict between Ellery and Conor: that he basically has to sacrifice her if he wants at least a chance at beating Asher, and I like that his two sides struggle and Ellery is the one thing that might keep him on the human side.

The way the characters speak is rather modern. I didn’t mind that much but I had the same impression for some of their behavior and together, it was a bit jarring. I didn’t always understand the motivations for some actions in this historical setting. Some things, like Ellery’s power for example, were a bit hazy and I had to struggle to connect the information. Also, leaving aside his sister’s death, why did Conor need to defeat Asher on his own, without help from other amhas-draoi?

Verdict: I’m torn about Lost in You. It’s very well written, with an interesting and well plotted conflict, and I enjoyed reading it. If not for the problems, in particular the “too modern” impressions, I would call it a good novel (4/5), especially considering that it is a debut novel. But maybe because of the good writing, I think Rickloff is capable of more, so I’m going with 3,5/5, thinking of it as a 4-.

Lost in You is a very promising first novel and I’m looking forward to reading more by Alix Rickloff.


2 Responses to “Alix Rickloff – “Lost in You””

  1. Jace Thursday, April 9, 2009 at 1:16 pm #

    Hey, great review. 🙂 I’m glad you like her enough to want to read more of hers.

  2. Taja Thursday, April 9, 2009 at 2:27 pm #

    Jace – thank you. I’m really glad about how this novel turned out. I love it when I’m surprised in a good way with a book I took a chance on. 😀

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