Zebra, Jul 2009, $6.99
The Shadowdwellers live underground in a complex metropolis of caves and tunnels underneath the mountains of Alaska. They are the Nightwalkers who avoid the rays of the sun which destroys them with the slightest contact; they thrive in the moonlight. The war is over and the monarchy is restored. There is new hope that the race will become more honorable, tolerant and technologically advanced like the other nightwalker races.
Daenaira has been treated as a slave by her uncle and aunt for eight years, forced to wear a shock collar to enforce her obedience. The day comes when she is sold and before she leaves her aunt’s home is shocked into unconsciousness. When she awakens she is in Sanctuary, the church of the Shadowdwellers led by High Priest Magnus who enforces the law and the morals of his people. He informs Dae that the goddess Drenna gave him visions that she was to become his handmaiden. Dae takes awhile but soon trusts Magnus and finds some serenity in Sanctuary even though treachery by unknown people wanting more power has her watching her back. He has enemies who want him dead, but they had not counted on the ferocity of the innocent in love protecting like a lioness her beloved; nor the priest also in love willing to die to keep the former slave safe.
The second Shadowdweller book (see ECSTASY) is more complex and delves deeper into the culture of the Shadowdwelllers that is much different than our own. Magnus and Daenaira are a fascinating coupling as he has justifiable doubts about having a hand maiden who has the duties of a wife since the last handmaiden tried to poison him while she fears people after the torture her aunt put her through. .Unlike his former handmaiden who he had for decades and was celibate with, he can’t control his desire for the woman the goddess chose for him. Jacquelyn Frank is one of the best paranormal romantic fantasy authors writing today and is a favorite of this reviewer.