Kerrelyn Sparks continues her epic fantasy series with So I Married a Sorcerer. It’s a fantastic read, from beginning to end, with romance, magic, mystery, and action.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
[For Mature Audiences; Some Spoilers]
I really enjoyed How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days, the first in Kerrelyn Sparks’ The Embraced series. The world-building was so well-done and I loved meeting Luciana and her sisters. With that said, So I Married a Sorcerer might be even better! I devoured this book in about 24 hours at the cost of any other productivity. The romance and action hooked me from the very beginning and I couldn’t let it go. I’ve become so invested in these five women and really can’t wait to watch each of them meet their tall, handsome strangers, get their happy endings, and, in the process, save their whole world.
Keep in mind that these are not standalones. There’s so much established in book 1, in terms of the lore, characters, and plot arc of the series, so ot’s really important to read How to Tame a Beast first.
Recall, Aerthlan is a world made up of five kingdoms, Eberon, Woodwyn, Noveshka, Tourin (these four sharing a continent), and one kingdom of the Islands of Moon and Mist. For years, the four mainland kingdoms have been at war with one another, battling for land, resources, and power. For the most part, the people of the Islands are left alone, free to worship the goddesses of the two moons (on the mainland, they worship a male god, Light). Two times a year, the two moons in the sky align with one another, and any children born on that night are born with a supernatural power. While these people (the Embraced) are actively protected on the Islands, the Embraced are persecuted and killed on the mainland.
So I Married a Sorcerer picks up from the epilogue of How to Tame a Beast (several months after Luciana and Leofric assume the throne of Eberon). Luciana is expecting her first child and has asked that Mother Ginessa and her four adopted sisters (Brigitta, Sorcha, Gwenmore, and Maeve) join her in Eberon. As the women are traveling from the Isle of the Moon to Eberon, Brigitta reflects on the last several months. When the sisters were last together at the convent and played their game of the telling stones, Luciana’s prophesy about herself came true. Brigitta is nervous, because Luciana also made a prophecy about her that involved the kingdom of Tourin and seven suitors competing for her hand in marriage. How in the world would this come to be, especially since Brigitta is nothing but an orphan.
Well, things take a fateful turn when the ship transporting the women is waylaid, simultaneously by the Tourinian Navy AND Rupert, the notorious pirate and wind sorcerer. And both want Brigitta! Rupert is able to best Tourin’s Navy and when he threatens to set fire to the ship transporting Brigitta, she (and Sister Fallyn) agree to come peacefully. Brigitta’s life is quickly turned upside down when she learns that she’s actually the princess of Tourin (believed to be dead) and the current King Gunther of Tourin (Brigitta’s brother) wants her back so he can marry her off to his champion and get an heir. Rupert plans to hold Brigitta himself and use her to get a large ransom from Gunther, the first step in a larger plan to exact revenge on the royal family.
Brigitta resents being a pawn in Rupert’s and Gunther’s games. She’s determined to set her own destiny, and that begins by figuring out the source of Rupert’s quest for bloody vengeance. It’s a good thing that Brigitta is Embraced, and her special ability is finding lost and hidden things, including memories. And once she (and we) learn Rupert’s background, Brigitta is very sympathetic. His deep pain and anger are pretty justified. As the two get to know each other, they learn that the bond between them is much deeper than we might initially think.
I adore Brigitta! She’s an upright person, kind, and very brave. Once she’s determined what she believes is the right thing to do, she’ll stop at nothing to make it happen, even at the cost of her own comfort and safety. Rupert is equally courageous and though he’s prickly at the beginning, it becomes very clear that he’s not the heinous pirate sorcerer that eveyone believes him to be. Rupert is incredibly loyal and determined to reclaim what was taken from him, not for his sake, but on behalf of those he cares about.
Watching Rupert and Brigitta come together is a major highlight of the book. Unlike How to Tame a Beast, the romantic relationship is much more central, which is welcome. These two are similar in their desire to bring peace to the realm and care for the common people. I think this is what allows Rupert to open up to Brigitta. Even though his pain is the result of actions from her family (unbeknownest to her), Brigitta stands by Rupert and fights to make things right for him, even putting herself in danger to do so.
Her heart squeezed and tears gathered once again.
“That’s all right. I know what to do.” She stepped toward him, her bare toes reaching the edge of the water. “That’s why I came here tonight. I want to offer my services. I’ll go with you and help you set things straight.”
He gave her an incredulous look. “I’m not letting you endanger yourself.”
“I have to help you. It’s the only way I can atone for the crimes of my family. Please let me—”
A tear rolled down her cheek, and she impatiently brushed it away. “It nearly kills me to think how much you’ve suffered because of my—”
“Stop,” he growled. “You’ve done nothing wrong.”
“But I have to do something! What my family did to you was unforgivable. I’ll help you with your revenge, and I’ll earn your trust. I swear it.”
Their romance naturally follows:
With her arms pinned down momentarily, she glanced down and winced at the wet blouse and shift now molded against her breasts. She ducked down a few inches.
“Rupert, I thought we were going to talk.”
“Sweetheart.” He threw the vest onto the rock. “Don’t you know when you’re being ravished?”
Her mouth fell open. “I don’t recall agreeing to that.”
“Then I’ll ask.”
He pulled her tight against him. Her hands landed on his bare chest, then she withdrew them a few inches, curling them into fists.
“Brigitta.” He cupped his hand around the back of her head while he planted soft kisses across her brow. “Sweetheart.” The tip of his nose glided down her cheek, then he nibbled a path to her ear. She shivered, and her hands slowly uncurled.
He nipped at her earlobe, then whispered, “Would you like to be ravished?”
Her knees grew weak, so she grabbed on to his shoulders.
“Is that a yes?” His nose brushed back across her cheek toward her mouth.
“I-I’ll consider it.”
“Take all the time you need.” His mouth took hers, gently savoring and coaxing her until the world swirled around her, and time seemed to slow to a halt. All that was left was Rupert. His mouth against hers, sweetly molding her and making her melt. His hands touching her neck, stroking her back, and sending delicious shivers along her spine. His chest pressed against her, making her breasts feel so achy and full that she finally gave in to a desperate need building inside her. With a moan she rubbed her breasts against his chest…
…She cried out, raking her fingers into his hair and holding him close. With each flick of his tongue, she tightened her legs around his waist. When he suckled hard, she could no longer bear it. Digging her heels into his back, she ground herself against him.
With a groan, he nuzzled his face against her breasts. “You’re killing me.”
“I don’t mean to.”
“I want to touch you. But that’s as far as I can go. I cannot risk getting you with child.”
Her thighs tightened involuntarily, and his gaze met hers. “But I want you. I want you so bad it hurts.”
He looked around, then carried her over to the rope ladder. “Here.” He moved her hands to a rung above her head. “Hold on tight.”
“Why?” She curled her fists around the rope.
“I’m going to play with you until you scream.”
There aren’t a lot of descriptive sex scenes (maybe two), but you feel the chemistry between Rupert and Brigitta from the first moment he sees her. Their intimacy grows from there and, despite several obstacles, including a deadly plot by Brigitta’s brother Gunther, their romance is never in doubt.
Now that a good chunk of world-building is out of the way, we’re better able to get to the action. And WHOA, is it good. We’re talking epic sea battles, dueling with fire-breathing dragons, and trying to uncover the evil Chameleon who shows up again after trying to have Leofric and Luciana killed in book 1. At the same time, we also delve deeper into the world of Aerthlan and learn more about the various sources of conflict that has plagued for centuries.
I love revisiting Leo and Luciana, who become parents. They stand as allies with Rupert and Brigitta, which makes all the difference. The secondary romance between Sister Fallyn and Stefan (Rupert’s #2 man) provides a lot of comic relief and swoons. Gwenmore, Sorcha, and Maeve make appearances, and we learn more about these secondary characters, which will ultimately feed other books in the series. We also get a chance to visit Norveshka, the setting for the next book, and the potential mystery to be solved.
If I’m to offer any critique, I would say that sometimes the combination of old-English and modern colloquialisms throws me off. At the same time, I recognize that this series is more fantasy than historical fiction, so the author can certainly determine the rules of formal and informal language. Also, the ending feels a bit rushed. It’s a lot of resolution to cram into three chapters. Furthermore, Gunther’s redemption after his abuse of Brigitta and years of mistreating his kingdom, seem highly improbable.
In the end, Brigitta and Rupert get their HEA, but it’s quite tenuos. There is still conflict and dissension throughout Aerthlan and those who would are unhappy that the Embraced have increasing influence (especially in Eberon and Tourin, where the royal family are Embraced people). There is much more to come, but I can’t wait because these women are going to save their world!
So I Married a Sorcerer is MUSTREAD for all fans of paranormal romance, fantasy, and even historical romance. I can’t recommend this series enough! Read an excerpt of the prologue and the first chapter HERE, then make sure to add So I Married a Sorcerer on Goodreads and grab your copy today!
Many thanks to the publisher for an advanced review copy.