Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-243-5
Sci-fi Romance, 2008
I believe that this version of The Promise of Kierna’Rhoan is actually a revised edition from the one previously published in 1999 by the now-kaput publisher Dreams Unlimited. Then again, you probably don’t have the previous edition – or else Dream Unlimited wouldn’t have gone belly up, heh – so this PSA is most likely not needed.
Kierna’Rhoan in this story is the promised land. Or rather, the promised planet, believed by the persecuted race called the Shifters to be their sanctuary where they will finally live in peace. The problem is, naturally, getting there. Our heroine, Kira Farseaker, isn’t a Shifter, but she has thrown in her lot with them ever since she learned of the government’s horrific campaign against the Shifters. For the last few years she has been smuggling Shifters and providing them sanctuary. Her ex-husband is a commander at a Guard outpost, they both know that she is an “underground anti-government terrorist leader” but she believes that he has no way of proving that. Meanwhile, Kira likes a hot guy, David Cario, but it is too bad that he works under her ex-husband. Of course, David isn’t a bad guy. He has his own agenda to pursue.
The story is has me considerably worried when the author prefaces each chapter with an excerpt from Kira’s journal that details her thoughts. While these diary excerpts provide some insight into how Kira became who she is, I hope she doesn’t write down her thoughts about her current activities. I don’t know about anyone else, but if you ask me, keeping a detailed journal that can be used as evidence against you when you are committing illegal activities is pretty high up there in the list of stupid things to do.
Kira is also on the naïve side despite her kick-ass heroine pretensions. When David discovers her activities, she decides to keep him as her prisoner, despite the fact that she could have erased his memories. Why? She doesn’t want to accidentally erase all his memories, you see, which would be bad. At the same time, she tells him things like the weaknesses of the Shifters (they can’t stand cigarette smoke), information that can be used by those who want the Shifters exterminated. Kira is the worst person I’d want to carry out a mission of great importance, because this woman may mean well but yikes, she’s hopeless.
It is a good thing for Kira and the Shifters under her care that David is a good guy rather than a cold-hearted seducer who would take advantage of poor Kira for the worst of reasons. Because if David is a bad guy, Kira will really be in deep trouble as David is under orders by his boss to get close to Kira and learn what she is up to. While David accomplishes his mission by page 49 of this story, he eventually sides with her and the Shifters, so Kira is really very lucky in this instance. Ms Kelly wants to show how Kira’s tenderness and affection for the Shifters will help David realize that she is with the good guys, but come on, really. This is one of those romance stories where the heroine stupidly places her life and her entire cause in the hero’s hands and, in this story, she is lucky that the hero decides to believe that she’s with the good people.
On the bright side, David and Kira are likable types and the story is well-paced and readable. The Shifters could have been annoying child-like creatures, but Xep is pretty adorable in this story. And despite Kira’s failure as an agent of subterfuge, she can take care of herself when the going gets tough, so she’s really not that bad.
On the not-so-bright side, I’m not sure whether I can believe that she and David will fall in love that soon. I am convinced that they like and enjoying sleeping with each other, but I’m not sure about love. Still, Ms Kelly does the right thing by not having the characters throwing a wedding by the last page, because a wedding after all that is really pushing my credulity too far. The biggest problem here is that Kira is better off as an activist screaming at picket lines rather than an agent of subterfuge because she is really a flop at hiding things from the hero who is supposed to be her enemy. She is too emotional and even naïve – if the hero is really a bad guy, this story would have ended in a tragic manner for her and the Shifters.
The Promise of Kierna’Rhoan is an enjoyable story with likable characters but I suspect that you’ll enjoy this one so much better if you don’t mind the fact that the heroine is in the wrong vocation and some of the things she does put her and her charges under David’s power without her realizing what she has done. I like this one, but because I cringe and go, “No, Kira, don’t tell him that! No, no, don’t do that… Argh! I give up!” at Kira pretty often while reading this story, I can’t say that I enjoy this one without reservations.