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And the Rainbow Award goes to:

1.    The Devil Lancer by Astrid Amara
Series: Crimean War Novels
Paperback: 475 pages
Publisher: Blind Eye Books (October 7, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935560301
ISBN-13: 978-1935560302
Amazon: The Devil Lancer: A Novel of the Crimean War
Amazon Kindle: The Devil Lancer: A Novel of the Crimean War

Captain Elliott Parrish of Her Majesty’s 17th Lancers cavalry division finds most details about his assignment in the Crimean peninsula insufferable. Rampant cholera, missing supplies, and inept planning start the British war effort against the Russian Czar’s expansion into Turkish territory on poor footing. What should have been a swift and decisive summer victory soon drags into a harrowing winter campaign, and Elliott must rally disheartened men through sickness, battle, and starvation. But when he is assigned the additional task of spying on a fellow officer, the inscrutable Cornet Ilyas Kovakin, he finds himself disconcerted and fascinated by both the work and the man. Rumors surround Ilyas Kovakin, the half-Russian officer who reports to none in his division. People say they’ve seen snakes slithering into his tent at night, that he has another face visible only in certain light, and a penchant for violent acts carried out in darkness, alone. But the truth that Elliot soon discovers is much more dangerous then mere superstition. For Ilyas, his return to Crimea is colored with the horrors of his past. Once a mercenary, he has made a terrible mistake and inherited horrifying powers that he can barely control. He feels his hold over his humanity slipping away daily, and fears that salvation may already lay beyond him when the cheerful Captain Parrish catches his attention. Among men who hate him and superiors who covet his brutal power, Ilyas finds the young captain’s charming company almost irresistible. But Ilyas knows that the closer he is drawn to Elliot the more he will endanger them both.
The amount of research and detail that went into The Devil Lancer is breathtaking. I've never been interested in historical romance, but Amara completely drew me in. I enjoyed the harsh reality of the setting. This is the first romance I've read where the main character has lice, and yet this doesn't dampen the truly hot love scenes. The characters were engaging and developed throughout the novel. I cared about them and was saddened when they suffered. The plot skillfully wove magic with reality into a believable story. There was very little drag and a lot of energy as we followed the war and Elliot and Ilyas' parallel quest. The climax was a satisfying culmination of what Amara set up. The writing style had a few bumps here and there, but was overall easy to devour.
Oh my goodness, Ms. Amara. Your story is utterly fascinating. If someone had told me I’d be reading a historical fantasy set during the Crimean War and loving it this hard a week ago, I’d have laughed. But your book is just that good. It’s long, satisfying, pulls you in and drives you forward, as inexorable as the battles it follows. This book is clearly well researched and well plotted, and has been very, very well written.
So well researched, with a fascinating base and a wonderful setting. The plot unfolded effortlessly. Characters were a bit stock, but I really felt for Ilyas. Lovely book, definitely a fan of all the hard work and real effort in this.


Runners Up:
2.    Blue on Black by Carole Cummings
3.    Obsidian Sun by Jon Keys   

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