Author: Lola Lebellier
Genre: High Fantasy, Bittersweet
Length: Novel (198pgs)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (8th February 2013)
Heat: Low – Moderate
Heart: ♥♥♥♥3½ – 4Hearts
Blurb: Once, in the land of Nier, five elemental spirits terrorized the land. To contain them, five humans sacrificed themselves, losing their bodies and minds. It wasn’t until decades later, when a set of restraints was formed, that the vessels could live normal lives and take their rightful places as leaders of their clans.
Now Aless of Serac, Guardian of Water, has returned from exile, a punishment for embarking on a killing frenzy when his restraints broke. He soon discovers all the restraints are breaking, and if he cannot find a solution, chaos will follow. But Aless can’t solve this problem on his own.
Though Corin of Zephyr has large reserves of mana, the trait that signifies proficiency with natural magic, he shows little aptitude for casting spells or using his power. But that doesn’t bother him as much as the threat from the breaking restraints. Together, he and Aless might find a solution—but as the restraints begin to crumble, it becomes clear that their situation is more dangerous than anyone could have foreseen: Aless, Corin, and the other guardians will face abuse, attack, and even death in their quest to save their world.
A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.
Review: Aless is the vessel that carries Serac, Guardian of Water. He is returning to the monastery after ten years spent in exile after his restraints broke and Serac went on a murderous rampage. Things have changed and he discovers secrets are being kept from him, but he is easily distracted by Corin. Corin is an apprentice with a huge well of mana, but he isn’t able to access it and struggles with even the most simple of spells. When he discovers the truth about the Guardian’s restraints breaking he offers his help. It’s a race against time as the Guardian’s face going feral. But, Aless and Corin fall in love and Corin discovers the truth behind the restraints.
This is a great story with a very bittersweet ending. Aless still doesn’t know what happened ten years before when his restraints failed and Serac broke loose and took control. Returning to the monastery after his exile, he discovers things have changed and secrets are being kept from him. Corin is as drawn to Aless as Aless is to him, but his Master Selena doesn’t want him having any contact with Aless. Searching for the truth about the restraints and why they are failing, Corin discovers that some of the story is missing, and it will take the entire monastery of Guardians working together to solve the mystery before it is too late.
I loved the world building in this story. The true story of the spirits slowly being fed to us, and only one person being able to save them all. There’s a lot to learn concerning the Guardians and the spirits they house, as well as finding out the truth about the restraints and how they came about. As you progress through the story, you will have light bulb moments where you go ‘ah-ha’ as some detail suddenly smacks you in the face, and what has happened and what is to come, suddenly begins to click together. Although this story scored high in the storyline, it missed (for me) with the relationship between Aless and Corin. Don’t get me wrong there is an attraction between them, but from what I saw in the story there was still a long way to go between them before love came into the equation.
This story has many interesting characters, although some of them we get to know better than others. Each one is well written and you become vested in them discovering a solution. Sometimes you feel that petty feelings cause more problems than was needed, but it adds to the tension in the story. I wish that we could have seen more of the relationship between Aless and Corin and how it was developing between them, but others were interfering, and it made me feel as though they only had a longing to be together, rather than a developing love. There is one scene that may disturb readers and that is an m/f rape scene that we are given no warning about. Although, it fit perfectly in the storyline, it was still disturbing to have had no warning at all, not even on the publishers’ site.
I will recommend this story to those that love hidden stories, magical spirits, some incredible details, a longing for love and a very bittersweet ending.