I fully appreciate authors who aren't afraid to step outside of the box and create stories and worlds that are a bit unique. There are so many romance novels out there that are
strikingly similar that I'm always thrilled to get my hands on
something that is a little different. For that reason alone I want to give D. Renee Bagby major kudos. This is a sci-fi fantasy story that is both well thought out and executed. So on to my review of Kristar...
Chigaru is a Hell Hound; however, he's not the type of hell hound that probably comes to mind. He is the head of an elite Bhresyas demon guard for the human queen named Serenity, and the term "Hell Hound" is the title that she has given her guard in the first book. Although I haven't read Serenity (the Gezane Universe #1), the story-line is outlined in this novel. Apparently, Melchior the king wasn't always loving with his queen Serenity. During that time Chigaru and the queen developed a deep (but unconsummated) love for one another. When Melchior realizes his love for his queen, Chigaru is left broken hearted and can only love his queen from afar as he continues to serve as her guard. He travels to another dimension in search of his mate, with the hope that his love for her will cure him of his love for the queen. He is sent there by a mage who cloaks him in the guise of a human man. The mage, it seems, needs his mate in order to regain her lost memories. Chigaru meets his mate Kristar (Kitty) immediately, but she is independent and outspoken and he doesn't see how she will fit in his world. He comes to the decision that it is best if he leaves her behind. But circumstances cause him to become stuck in her dimension for a brief period. Chigaru and Kitty get to know one another but he spurns her attempts at getting close and refuses her requests to go back to his dimension. Naturally they end up back in Chigaru's reality and naturally Kitty learns the truth. The question is - Can Kitty forgive Chigaru for keeping the secret of who she is to him? Can Chigaru love Kitty more than he loves the queen? What is the secret behind the mage's missing memories and how will it affect Kristar/Kitty?
There is a lot to like about this story. It was well written and I absolutely enjoyed Kitty and Chigaru. Kitty was independent and strong willed. I liked that she wasn't a weak, fawning female or a damsel that was in constant need of saving. She makes a place for herself in Chigaru's dimension and doesn't wait around for someone to tell her what she should do, nor does she fall apart because of Chigaru's secrets and apparent affection for the queen. Chigaru was loyal and strong and together I thought that they made an impressive pair that was worth cheering for.
Unfortunately, this wasn't a perfect book for me. I couldn't get past how much I disliked Serenity (the queen). Maybe I would look upon her more favorably if I had read the first book, but as it is she bugged the heck out of me! She came off as childish, selfish, greedy, and jealous. What she does in the book had me seething! Could she be any more spoiled?! Although I did like Kitty's developing friendship with the king, I still felt she had better keep a close eye on her man in case the queen gets into a snit in the future. That love bond is still there between those two and with Chigaru still her loyal guard at all hours of the day it could easily cross the line (although I do think Chigaru at least has more honor than that). There was also an issue of sex between the humans and the Bhresyas. What transpires between the king and queen was so not sexy and it makes me worry for any future human and Bhresyas demon pairings in future books. The solution to this problem was less than desirable, but unfortunately I can't really go into that without major spoilers. Read the book and you'll see what I'm referring to.
Overall, Kristar was enjoyable to read. It did keep my interest and I walked away curious to learn more, particularly about the vampires in the realm. Ultimately, I think that my enjoyment was hindered by not having read the first book. I can't say that it would have changed how I felt about certain things that happened in this one, but it may have helped me to understand it better. Like I said earlier, major Kudos to Ms. Bagby for writing something a little different. Although Kristar was a bit of a hit and miss for me, I give it a 3 out of 5 rating (and I'm thinking I'll go check out the first book to see if it will change my take on the queen).
*I was given a copy of Kristar by the author for a fair and honest review*
Rating: 3 out of 5
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Published: Jan. 6, 2014