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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

5 Sniffs Review: THE MARK OF THE TALA by Jeffe Kennedy

Title: The Mark of Tala
Series: The Twelve Kingdoms #1
Author: Jeffe Kennedy
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Kensington Books
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Source: NetGalleyBewitching Book ToursTour Schedule
Links: Goodreads ☆ Amazon

Queen Of The Unknown

The tales tell of three sisters, daughters of the high king. The eldest, a valiant warrior-woman, heir to the kingdom. The youngest, the sweet beauty with her Prince Charming. No one says much about the middle princess, Andromeda. Andi, the other one.

Andi doesn't mind being invisible. She enjoys the company of her horse more than court, and she has a way of blending into the shadows. Until the day she meets a strange man riding, who keeps company with wolves and ravens, who rules a land of shapeshifters and demons. A country she'd thought was no more than legend--until he claims her as its queen.

In a moment everything changes: Her father, the wise king, becomes a warlord, suspicious and strategic. Whispers call her dead mother a traitor and a witch. Andi doesn't know if her own instincts can be trusted, as visions appear to her and her body begins to rebel.

For Andi, the time to learn her true nature has come. . .

THE GIST: Princess Andromeda feels pretty un-extraordinary compared to her sisters, that is until she meets a strange man during her daily horse ride who claims that she belongs to him and is to be his queen. A deal was made and broken, and he is there to claim what is rightfully his - the daughter of the High King who bares the Mark of Tala - Andromeda. As war breaks out, Andi dreams of the stranger and she slowly begins to change. Can Andi stop the war between the Twelve Kingdoms and the Tala by claiming her rightful place as queen before it's too late?

WHAT I LIKED: One thing I liked what the mystery about who the Tala are and the truth about Andi's mother. There's little known about the Tala in the beginning, but as the story progresses their history is revealed and it's very interesting. And Andi's mother is a completely different mystery altogether. We learn a little about her in this first book, but there is still so much more to learn about her. I also really liked the chemistry between Andi and Rayfe. There is this wild and free element to it that really shows their animal side and that brings scorching passion to their relationship. Andi's journey of finding herself and accepting herself for who she really is was one of my favorite parts.

WHAT I DISLIKED: The only thing I didn't like was how Andi was always putting herself down, at least in the beginning. She feels invisible and inferior to her sisters - one who is the warrior heir to the throne and the other is the beautifully sweet one. But Andi is so much more than she realizes and that is why I loved her journey of self-discovery and acceptance.

Andromeda: Middle daughter of the High King. Feels invisible most of the time, compared to her sisters. Loves the wilderness and animals, especially her horse, Fiona. Bares the Mark of Tala, making her heir to being Queen of the Tala. Rayfe approaches her, saying that she is rightfully his according to the deal made by her father. Has abilities she doesn't understand. She can see vision of the future, and various other abilities. As she continues her journey she comes to learn about herself, her mother, and her people. 

Rayfe: King of the Tala. Meets Andi on the border of the Wild Lands. Claims that she is to be his Queen in accordance with the deal made with her father. Has the ability to shift into a wolf and a large falcon. He seems hard and savage on the outside, but he's actually very loving and caring. He will do whatever necessary to protect his people from the threat of the High King.

Ursula: Eldest daughter of the High King. Heir to the throne. A seasoned and hardened warrior. Leads the High Kings armies into war. Loves her sisters and will do anything to protect them, even from themselves.

Amelia: Youngest daughter of the High King. Beautiful and sweet. Wife to Prince Hugh. Is very close to Andi and loves her dearly. She's distraught with the war going on and the Tala trying to take Andi away.

Hugh: Prince of Avonlidgh. Son of King Erich. Was originally meant to marry Ursula, but he fell in love with Amelia.

In THE MARK OF TALA, I would say the High King Uorsin is the villain. When he learns that Andi met with Rayfe of the Tala, he goes into full combat mode and declares war. He locks Andi up in the castle to keep her from being able to meet or be caught by any of the Tala. He becomes a cruel and evil man, bent of destroying the Tala. He shows clear distaste for Andi, and only wants to use her as a piece on his war board. He is a dangerous adversary, indeed.

Okay, this is one of my most favorite parts in the whole book, the romance between Andi and Rayfe. They meet on the border of the Wild Lands. Andi's horse, Fiona, throws her off, and Rayfe with his pack of wolfhounds is standing over her. They fight, banter, kiss, and then Andi stabs Rayfe in the shoulder. She escapes, but Rayfe promises that things aren't over between them and she hasn't escapes him. "I am your fate. I have a taste of your blood now. Run now if you're afraid, but I will come after you. I will always find you. You will be mine." And that is basically their first meeting.

When the meeting is discovered by her father, war is declared and she is pretty much made a prisoner in the castle and a pawn to be used against the Tala. But Rayfe never once gives up, even when Andi is taken secretly to Prince Hugh's land for protection.

There is this wildness and even savageness (not in a bad way) to their relationship that hints to the animals within them. Their passion is something off the charts, and as they come to love one another, that love is very strong. They both are willing to sacrifice themselves for the other. They do fight quite a lot too as they get to know one another. And sometimes there's even a few silly moments. All in all, I just really loved these two as a couple. I can't wait to see more of them in the future.

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