by Alvania Scarborough
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Suspense
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
They hold dangerous secrets… only trust holds the key. The healer. Cheyna’s empathic, healing talent makes her the perfect person to return to her birth world and recover an ancient artifact for her adoptive people. It was meant to be a simple mission, only everything goes wrong when a dangerously imposing, battle-scarred warrior kidnaps her. The merchant master. Bastard-born Drakthe Fachion has an opportunity to found his own house and erase the stigma of his birth. All he has to do is reopen the Agora trade route. Unfortunately, he must enter a trade marriage with a healer to gain access. If that means kidnapping a complicated, stubborn woman and forcing her into an agreement, so be it. The Agora Stronghold. A strange place where nothing is as it seems. As they make the treacherous journey, wariness is no match for the passion that slips past their defenses. But an unseen presence stalks them. Drakthe and Cheyna have no idea a psychic trap has been laid or that a deadly, generations-old secret that threatens two worlds is about to be unleashed.
This is the second book I have read by Alvania Scarborough and I love her writing style. Merchant Master is the first book in the Lost Colony series and once again, I found myself drawn into the world, the banter filled romance and suspenseful plot. This paranormal suspense with its fantasy vibe reminded me of Jayne Anne Krentz’s Arcane Society novels and her Harmony series writing as Jayne Castle. I adore discovering new authors whose work pushes limits and heightens my experience.
Five Caffeinated Reasons to snuggle up and devour the Merchant Master
- The world: Alvania Scarborough creates a fascinating world with healers, psi energy, merchant traders, unusual wildlife and harsh environments. There are houses ruling this world as well as the social class. Which brings about arranged marriages, power plays, politics and more. Did you notice I said world? Yep this takes place on another world wrapping this paranormal romance in fantasy. We travel brutal deserts, visit villages and go deep into the unwelcoming jungle. It was brilliant.
- The characters: Cheyna is a healer, raised by her adoptive parents off planet. She is given a mission and tasked to return to her birth world to recover an ancient artifact. I love quests and the whole Indian Jones vibe. Cheyna is spunky and resourceful. Things end up a disaster on her first day but she quickly recovers and begins a journey to meet the man arranged to wed her in a trade-marriage (a temporary marriage to helps both houses). In route, she is kidnapped and then the fun begins. Drakthe Fachion our kidnapper is bastard born and determined. He is well known as a merchant master for more than just his trading skills. He desperately wants his own house and if he can reopen, the Agora trade route he will be granted one. To do so he needs a healer as a trade-wife and Cheyna will do. Ooo, this man has no idea what he is getting into! Cheyna is not some meek woman and the negations, banter and hilarious conversations between them have sparks flying. I love these types of arrangement tropes. We all know how the best-laid plans never really go as planned.
- The plot: Danger and a perilous journey begin as these two partner up. As they do they learn about the other and face down danger from the treacherous terrain and others. I loved watching their relationship develop, seeing them being to trust and discovering what they seek may not be exactly what they need. They find themselves unwittingly at the center of an old-secret and dispute for untapped power. Scarborough unraveled all of this for the reader in such a way that I was hooked. The story was tight and believable. I was able to slip completely into this world. We get a solid, satisfying ending to this first story and I am looking forward to going back.
- Genre blending: The paranormal elements were cool from Cheyna’s empathic, healing talent to rare stones that hold energy. Drakthe has an unusual talent but I will let you discover those secrets for yourself. The fantasy elements from the creative landscapes to other planets unfurled beautifully and the author gave us a panoramic view. If you like Jayne Anne Krentz’s Arcane Society novels and Harmony series you will thoroughly enjoy the elements in this novel. Scarborough weaves in twists, turns and revelations about these paranormal elements and characters.
- The romance was delicious and I connected to both characters. Darkthe could be extremely focused on his quest and goals and Cheyna while equally focused on hers gave him balance. She brings humor, makes him think beyond his beliefs and the two create this wicked chemistry that made me giddy. The author brings some heat but this falls safely in the mid to mild-heat range. Her emphases are more on their emotions and their growing attraction. The way she weaves in playful humor was delicious and had me giggling aloud.
If you haven’t already guessed I loved Merchant Master. I love this genre-bending world and cannot wait for more Lost Colony books.
*Disclosure: I am working as a virtual assistant for this author, but it in no way influenced my review. If you are interested in reviewing Merchant Master, please see my Bloggers Wanted located in the menu bar to fill out form or shoot me an email.