Emperor’s Desire by Kate Hill

Emperor’s Desire by Kate Hill
Publisher: Changeling Press, LLC
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (50 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

“Dance for me.”

Emperor Zavier, an Aspectian shapeshifter, knows the dancer Vida is the only woman he’ll ever desire. From the shadows he’s watched her dance, wanting her for himself. But all his power cannot command a heart. How can he expect a human woman to return his love?

When Vida joins the supplicants vying for the role of Heir Mother to his future sons, Zavier lays his heart on the line. He knows he wants far more from her than he’s bargained for — he wants nothing less than for Vida to be his mate for life.

Vida may be only a village dancer, but she knows there’s more to royal politics than Zavier wishes to see. She dares to want more than just to be the bearer of his children. But can their frail bond survive Zavier’s meddling mother and the arranged marriage his family has waiting for him?

Want an interesting plot twist on the “woman doing her duty so her parents and siblings can survive” theme? Take a chance on Emperor’s Desire. It’s a love story on the spin cycle – a fast moving tale that covers the favorite parts a romance reader looks for without much agitation.

The blurb made me think of the last story I read from Ms. Hill and I was curious if it was going to end up as a cookie cutter type story. It’s not and I’m thrilled. It does have the theme of a woman giving up her life for the greater good and in return finds a joy and love never imagined but this tale is its own.

Vida is the heroine who makes the choice of being a sort of surrogate mother for the emperor’s first child. What she doesn’t expect to find is love or a man who inspires a passion beyond her wildest imaginings. I liked that the author gave the heroine a good emotional balance. She has strong convictions, compassion and a steel backbone. She wobbles a bit emotionally at one point and the reason is justifiable. What impressed me the most is that Ms. Hill did not let it overtake the story and blow the angst out of proportion. Vida rationalized and understood the intent of her adversary. Her decision was worthy of respect.

Xavier is a completely fascinating hero. He’s not human by any stretch of the imagination and I was wowed by the true mating process. That was a stroke of creative genius. The hero is also a man who knows his own mind and stands up for himself and those he loves. There is a lot to like about his character. I liked his abilities but the ones in the sexual arena were quite fun, well placed and enhanced the progression of the romance.

The author has an amazing wealth of creativity and she drew upon it in the telling of this tale. The fusing of the hero and heroine and the process that accomplishes that feat was both intriguing and sketchy. I realize that time is short and so the author had to world build, have them fall in love and defeat their adversaries all in less than fifty pages. That’s a bit daunting and for the most part Ms. Hill did it. But the sheer power of Xavier’s otherness was lost by its brevity. Vida’s sudden realization of love for the hero is typical in a short story, not threshed out so it comes across as a tad unbelievable. But I believe in the declaration of love coming from Xavier’s position – it made sense to me. A reader will figure out why I say that after reading this novelette.

There is a slight dusting of drama and suspense and its use furthered the belief that Vida is the perfect wife for Xavier. She’s not a pushover.

I liked the reference to green sand. Nothing says fantasy like green sand.

Reading Emperor’s Desire was quite enjoyable. Time certainly flew and most definitely I was entertained. This is the short story to try for fantasy romance aficionados. It has unique aspects, interesting twists and a sexy hero and heroine that truly deserve a happy ever after. Try it and see.

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