I have a thing for adventure stories, which probably stems from my love of Indiana Jones. I also like fantasy, as I’m sure you know if you’ve been reading TDF for long. And I dig steamy romances. Zoe Archer’s Warrior, the first in her Blades of the Rose series, is a glorious mix of all three, a wonderfully entertaining and sexy romp.
Former soldier Gabriel Huntley witnesses a deadly beating in England and finds himself drafted once more after swearing to the dying man that he would deliver a strange message to a man in Mongolia. Huntley is an alpha male; he’s big and broad and brash, feeling it his Victorian duty to protect damsels in distress and uphold his honor. Thankfully, he’s not particularly arrogant or terribly bossy (and when he is, he’s quickly put in his place by the heroine, Thalia, but I’ll get to her in a minute), and I’m eternally grateful to Archer for that. I like tough guy heroes, but I’m sick of the ones that are basically assholes hiding behind some weird romantic ideal. Gabriel is tough as nails thanks to his life as a career soldier, but he’s also caring and considerate, and that combination makes him one of the hottest heroes I’ve come across in quite some time.
Thalia Burgess is an Englishwoman who has spent most of her life in Mongolia with her father, one of the mysterious Blades of the Rose. When Captain Huntley suddenly shows up with news of a dangerous mission, she must take her injured father’s place and protect the Source of the Great Khan, a very important magical object from the Heirs, a shady organization who would use it to tip the balance of world power in the British Empire’s favor. Thalia is another great character, spunky without being irritating, tough and intelligent and more than a match for Gabriel. She was raised outside the bounds of proper British society and doesn’t want to have to conform to its standards. She’s happy riding horses on the steppes of Mongolia, and she wants nothing more than to prove herself worthy of becoming a Blade like her father.
When she and Gabriel set out to find the Source, they find themselves deeply attracted to each other, and this attraction leads to some incredibly hot love scenes. The kind of love scenes that will require you to take a break from reading, if you know what I mean, wink wink nudge nudge. Aside from the glorious sexiness, I really like that the love story develops organically; there’s no love at first sight or soul mate nonsense, just two people who find that their attraction has grown into something deeper the more they get to know each other. I love, too, that Thalia and Gabriel are equal protagonists. The story switches between their points of view (with occasional forays into the villain’s POV), and they are both equally important to the plot.
The story is an exciting adventure that dashes across Mongolia and central Asia, from the grassy steppes through desolate desert to the edge of the mountains on a desperate chase to keep the Source from falling into the wrong hands. Nearly everything in Warrior came together perfectly; this is a fantastic book, and if you like romance spiced up with fantasy and adventure, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.