Lara is a different twist of story of what I have been used to from Bertrice Small, having read a few of her historical romance novels. I had actually given up on her books, finding them a bit overdone when it came to sexual relationships between her characters; however, Lara somehow ended up on my bookshelf and I thought to give it a read – well, at least begin it … I was pleasantly surprised.
Lara is book one of the World of Hetar series. She is the half faerie daughter of John Swiftsword and his lover, a faerie by the name of Ilona. Ilona abandons John and her daughter, and Lara is then raised by her father and his mother, until her father takes a wife. Due to the poor conditions they live in, caused by the lack of work, John’s new wife sees a way out. She knows that her husband’s skill with a sword can win him a place with the crusader knights, thus ensuring financial prosperity for her family. She comes up with a plan to be rid of the half-faerie daughter of her husband – the money they would get for selling Lara to Gaius Prospero, who would be able to auction her off to a Pleasure House, would be more than sufficient to outfit her husband to compete in the tournament in order to win his place with the knights. Hesitant at first, John finally agrees to sell his daughter – after all, what future does she have with him, and the poverty they live in. The deal is struck. Lara accepts her father’s decision, knowing that he and his new family will never want for anything again.
However, Gaius Prospero’s plans are thwarted by the very fact that Lara is too beautiful and all the potential buyers begin to fight over her. The head of the Pleasure House tells Gaius that he cannot sell Lara to anyone – she must disposed of in another manner – out of the city. Thus begins her journey … into the dark forest where she cruelly is moved from childhood to womanhood … to a land of magic where she is taught the fine arts of love and life … to a dangerous land that has been said to be inhabited by barbarians – but is it really?
Lara is indeed a romantic fantasy, but it is also twisted with political intrigue, much the same as many other fantasy stories – the greed of the powerful, rich men to brainwash and control the riches of the land, and their propaganda control of the people.
All in all, if you are into fantasy, romance, political intrigue, adventure … Lara is a satisfactory beginning to what promises to be a great series.