Shield's Lady by Jane Ann Krentz
Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: January 1, 1996
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 352 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
This Kindle edition has multiple editing problems, including missing quotation and punctuation marks, and missing paragraph separations. However, there are no typos or spelling problems.
It is several hundred years since two space ships sent forth from Earth to found colonies on the planet Windarra crash landed on separate sections of the planet. Many lives were lost due to a huge explosion caused by a destructive form of light. One ship landed on an eastern continent and the other landed on a western continent, the survivors of each ship assuming the other ship was totally lost. The western group was saved by a mysterious group of humans called Shields who were able to work the source of the dangerous light, a crystal called prisma. The eastern group managed to survive without any help. The western group consisted of artists and inventors, and the eastern group contained business and accounting types. (If you are familiar with Myers-Briggs personality typing, the eastern group are ISTJ and the western group are ENFP.) The easterners evolved into a very formal, emotionally stifled society big on rules, and employing arranged marriages among clans/classes. The westerners evolved into a very colorful, emotional, expressive society with rules of their own, but less rigorously enforced. One particular rule was the contract between the westerners and the Shields.
The Shields have paid a price for their ability to work prisma. They are sterile except with a "Shieldmate," a special woman with whom they can form a type of psychic bond, called "linking," and even then they can only have sons. The contract with the western colonists allowed the Shields to seek a mate within the whole of the western society. They have no such contract with the eastern society. Unfortunately for the Shields, they have spent generations living on the rough frontier fighting bandits, and few western families want their daughters to unite with a Shield to go live far away in a very harsh setting.
It has only been a few years since the eastern and western contingents discovered each other. Sariana, the heroine, is from the eastern continent. She failed her entrance exams for university study and her pre-ordained track for her life was derailed in disgrace. Her fiance for an arranged marriage dumped her, and she has come to live among the westerners to try to restore her reputation and enable herself to reapply to the university for a career as a financial manager. At the start of the story, she has been working in that capacity for the flamboyant Avylyn clan, who are creators of flashy jewelery, but her entire success hangs in the balance if she cannot recover a stolen piece of crucial Avylyn artistic equipment, a prisma cutter.
All attempts to recover the stolen article fail and Sariana devises a desperate scheme. She has one of the clan drop a light hypnotic drug into the drink of a Shield, Gryph Chassyn, to put him in a more compliant mood so he will agree to help the Avylyns recover their prisma cutter. Unfortunately, the drug knocks out Gryph, and when he wakes up, the extremely confident Sariana realizes the "cure" for her problem may be worse than the "disease." Gryph is an incredibly sexy warrior who arouses emotions and desires in practical Sariana that she never knew she was capable of, and a single night of passion with Gryph leads to complications she never dreamed were possible.
I'm a big fan of Krentz. I've read almost everything she's ever written. My favorites are her paranormal romances, in particular her Harmony futuristics. It was a real treat to run across this book, which somehow I had missed. No doubt because it was originally published under the pseudonym, Amanda Glass, in June, 1989, under the Lovestruck imprint of Warner Books. It is considered the third book in the "Lost Colony" series (Crystal Flame published in 1986 is No. 1, and Sweet Starfire also published in 1986 is No. 2). In my own opinion, these books are not nearly as linked together as the Harmony books in terms of the worldbuilding, and they can definitely be read as stand-alone novels. This book has a completely resolved ending without any kind of cliffhanger.
Krentz began her career as a romance writer in 1979 and she has published over 120 novels. When this was written, she had been publishing about 10 years. This is a classic Krentz romance with a strong hero and a feisty heroine who is more than a match for him. One of Krentz's continual themes is the hero and heroine working together as a team to solve a mystery and overcome a dangerous villain. It is a formula that works extremely well for romantic suspense and never fails to entertain. However, by saying that, I don't mean to imply that Krentz is a "hack" or writes in a "formulaic" way. Rather, she allows the hero and heroine to uncover each other's true character, one of strong, sacrificial integrity, under circumstances of extreme adversity.
There are scenes of strong sensuality in this novel, but nothing very graphic. Krentz focuses on emotion more than sex for its own sake. The romantic conflict of two people from very different worlds finding a common ground to come together is extremely well done.
The worldbuilding in this novel is quite intriguing. I thoroughly enjoyed the society of the colorful, emotive westerners. The descriptions of their clothing and accessories, architecture, interior design, and inventions was fascinating and a lot of fun.
Fans of Krentz will not want to miss this novel, and fans of paranormal, and especially futuristic romance will enjoy it as well.