The plague hits London in 1349, and 8-year old Gillian's mother forces her to leave to save her life. The child runs into the forest, where she is found by two upyr who argue over which gets to adopt her into their fold. She chooses Auriclus over Nim Wei, but has not seen the last of the queen of the wolf-humans. Auriclus takes her to a pack of upyr who rear her as their own, but she never takes wolf form. When she is 30, she sets out on her own to discover the world, and finds an unlikely friend in a falcon. The two bond, and Gillian finds her true form in the bird.
Aimery Fitz Clare, the second son of a nobleman, is a battle-scarred warrior. The scarring near his left eye either puts off women, or they see him as a heroic knight in shining armor. Aimery is neither. Above all, he longs to be accepted for who he is. He serves his older brother Edmund, who is ruler of their demesne, and avoids Edmund's wife, who dogs his path with dreams of love that are completely unrequited.
Taking his nephew Robin out to find a new falcon, Aimery captures Gillian in her bird form. Now, tied to his wrist, she will begin a new life, find her destiny, and realize the true meaning of love. But first, she must convince Aimery to free her.
This report prepared by Kayelle Allen
Jove, May 2003, 6.50, 320 pp.
In 1349, Gillian flees into the woods to escape the plague that apparently will kill her mother and younger brother. Shapeshifters Nim Wei and her former mentor and rival Auriclus finds Gillian. Both try to recruit the lass to join their pack. Though she prefers the glitter of materialism offered by Nim, she selects Auriclus and his caves. He changes her into one of them, which ages her into adulthood before he dumps her on a pack led by Ulric.
After spending time with the pack and knowing Ulric wants her as his queen, Gillian leaves though she cherishes the hunt and making love with her leader. Noble Aimery Fitz Clare catches a falcon that is actually Gillian in hiding from her pack, especially her angry former lover and leader. As Gillian falls in love with her gentle handler, she knows how much she endangers her beloved if her pack finds him.
This paranormal historical romance is a delight because the shapeshifters seem very real even when Gillian ages almost instantly. Gillian is a strong lead protagonist though her thirst for human knowledge is not fully explained. Aimery is a compassionate second son whose gentleness is strengthened by his courage. Readers will stay up till midnight finishing Emma Holly's wonderful tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner