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The Queen's Bargain
Black Jewels #10
by Anne Bishop
ACE books; $27; 414 pp
Published: March 2020

We’re back in Bishop's deeply magical land Kaeleer, of the Eyrien and in particular the residents of SaDiablo Hall.  It’s wonderful to be here as it’s been several years since the last "Black Jewels" book.  This one focuses on Daemon Sadi and his wife Surreal.  Their marriage is crumbling. Basically, what a surprise, because neither wants to talk about what's disturbing them. Daemon feels Surreal is avoiding him not wanting him for who and what he is, and Surreal feels Daemon is manipulating her with his overwhelming sexual need.  Needless to say, as Daemon is the Warlord Prince of Dhemlan, this is really tipping the atmosphere. And brother Lucivar, Warlord Prince of Ebon Rhi is caught in the middle.

Daemon's attempts to curtail his energy and the overwhelming need to control himself around his mate is beginning to shatter his whole spirit. Surreal, in the dark about Daemon's issues finds herself unable to deal with him and comes up with constant excuses to keep her distance, especially at bedtime. In the meantime, there's Jillian, a young Eyrien helping Lucivar's wife handle her household and children, who is on the cusp of womanhood and is at sixes and sevens about all that.

So, basically there is a lot of emotional turmoil in the book. It's intense, as things usually are when dealing with those who wear the darker jewels. But in Daemon's case he can destroy a lot more than his family harmony if he gives into his despair, so he discovers, with the help of his mentally unstable mother, he is able to call on the shade of his dearly beloved Angeline who has been gone for some time now.  he was the most powerful Witch Kaeleer has ever had.

This of course, throws more wood on Surreal's fire because she not only believes she's not quite enough for Daemon already, and now the strength of his desire to meet with Angeline again is crushing her. Of course, the emotional turmoil is dealt with and even Jillian's need to find affection and inner strength is resolved.

I enjoyed this book simply because it was great being back in this universe. But it wasn't the most dramatic or compelling of the Black Jewel novels for me. Still, I'd buy it anyway…simply because it IS part of the Black Jewels universe. ~~ Sue Martin

For more titles in this series click here
For more by Anne Bishop click here

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