For the Rider Wen, peace in Gillengaria has only brought despair. Plagued by guilt for failing to protect her king, Wen has fled the royal city and given herself the penance of a life of wandering, helping strangers in need, making sure they remain that: just strangers.
Until the day she helps a terrified young woman abducted by an overeager suitor. The girl, she discovers, is the daughter of one of those who rose against the dead king, and is now heir to the great estate known as Fortune. Once she has delivered her safely home, Wen wants nothing further to do with the girl or her family. But fate has other plans. For behind the walls of Fortune, Wen will fine her future - and she will finally confront the ghosts of her past...
Following 2007's Reader and Raelynx, which wrapped up the original Twelve Houses fantasy quartet, this rousing sword-and-sorcery romance introduces Wen, a former elite warrior Rider haunted by her failure to protect King Baryn during a rebellion and heartbroken by her lover's marriage to another. After Wen saves teen heiress Karryn, daughter of one of the rebels, from kidnapping and ravishment, Karryn's uncle and guardian, Jasper Paladar, rewards Wen with an offer to train a cadre of bodyguards. Reluctant at first, Wen gradually faces her fears and falls in love with Jasper, the soul of sexy scholarly gallantry. Despite the tweeny dialogue and predictable derring-do, Shinn combines a substantial range of appealing characters with a solid reinforcement of women's capabilities in peace and war, making the story comfortable, if not profound.