Marked by You by Marian Perera

Marked by You by Marian Perera
Publisher: Loose ID
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (101 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Verbena

Shess Amadi patrols villages on the edge of the veld, keeping people safe from magicians. Magic spreads like a contagious and fatal disease, but Shess is an Immune. So when she finds a man who’s infected, it doesn’t matter how handsome he is, not when his face shows the Mark that signifies magic. She draws her knife.

A short brutal fight ends with a kiss that’s equally ruthless, and not short at all. Then the magician, Ryard, lets her go, claiming he’s in that village to protect people too. Shess doesn’t trust a word out of his sensuous mouth, but when they’re both targeted by a common enemy, she has no choice but to escape with him.

Ryard knows she’s the worst possible person for him, because his death is just what she needs to return to grace. She’s not patrolling border villages for fun. But his touch won’t infect her, even if it has other devastating effects. And whether they’re hiding inside a baobab tree or cooling off in a waterhole, an explosive attraction may be the most dangerous thing either of them will fight—or be defeated by.

After her big screw up, Shess is on a mission to regain her status as a respected Immune. Her job is to hunt and destroy Magicians, and protect any more humans from becoming infected. Falling for the enemy was never in her plans.

After getting an unexpected tip from one of the villagers that a Magician had recently been spotted going into a hut, Shess prepares to confront, capture, and kill the man before he can infect anyone else. When the dwelling owner demands she leave his property, she quickly renders him unconscious, then moves inside. It doesn’t take long to discover her quarry. If she had any doubts about him being a Magician before, they quickly dispel when she sees the indicative marking on his face.

Her skills are a bit rusty and before she knows it, the man has her pinned to the ground, her life literally within his hands as the tips of his fingers close around her throat. This wasn’t how Shess imagined things turning out. She had not only misjudged her opponent, she’d let down her guard, which allowed him to get the drop on her. That mistake would cost her dearly.

Ryard didn’t have time to mash words or wit with an Immune. Unlike many of his kind, he truly cared about the wellbeing of humans. He certainly didn’t want to infect anyone. Sneaking into his uncle’s hut during the day had been foolish, he knew that. But it couldn’t be helped. A coven of Magicians lay in wait just beyond the village walls. Unfortunately, his presence hadn’t gone unseen. Now he had an Immune to deal with. Talk about bad luck. Her skills were decent enough, but he had more important matters to attend to. The group of Magician’s hanging around the outskirts of the village posed a bigger threat than the woman before him.

As much as he’d rather secure her aid in dealing with a possible Magician invasion, it seems she’s Hell bent on fighting instead. While he must admit, he certainly admires her skill; he doesn’t have time to play around. After a quick tussle, he moves in for the kill. It should be easy. With his hand wrapped around her throat, his fingers itching to close even tighter and cut off her air, he does something that surprises them both.

Shess is desperate to get back into her boss’ good graces. She has a lot to atone for. At first, Ryard seems to present the perfect opportunity for her to do so. Even when the opportunity presents itself for her to end his life, she can’t do it. Shess isn’t sure why—and she knows she’s just digging her hole on Malleus’ crap list even deeper—but Shess starts to rethink her previous attitude about all Magicians. As the book progresses, both Shess and Ryard begin to see things differently. While Ryard accepts his feelings for Shess much quicker than she does for him, both begin to open their heart and look beyond what they’ve been told and taught.

Marked by You quickly piqued my interest and I found myself eager to see what happened next. I thoroughly enjoyed how Shess and Ryard start out as mortal enemies, but both are forced to take a good hard look at their own biases and opinions and see past the category they’ve each been placed in. Had Shess acted on her trained impulses, she would have missed out on what Ryard has to offer. And had Ryard chosen to kill Shess at their first meeting, the whole village would have suffered. Separate, neither has the ability to deal with the threat posed right outside the village walls. Together, they’re able to use their skills to accomplish what needs to be done.

In most cases, Magicians don’t care who they infect. A simple touch is all it takes and most are more than happy to share their misfortune, knowing it’s a death sentence one way or another. Immunes have no sympathy for Magicians. Once infected, they must be killed. Both Ryard and Shess defy all that they know because their hearts tell them each has so much more to offer.

Over all, I enjoyed the story. Ms. Perera has penned some truly interesting characters. Her definition of magicians and how they spread their “disease” is definitely different than anything I’ve read before. I like her creativity and ability to think outside the box. Nice work, Ms. Perera. I’ll certainly watch for other titles from this author.

Think you know what a magician is? Think again. Marked by You offers a whole new perspective of the world of magic and what it means. If you’re like me and want your sexy hero and kick-butt heroine, then  rest assured, Ms. Perera doesn’t disappoint. Marked by You offers everything you’d expect to find in a  steamy romance, plus a whole lot more.

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