Alexa Fitzwalter is a lawyer whose partner and friend recently died. Without her friend Sophie, Alexa isn't sure that she can keep up the Law Office they started together in Denver. So, after the funeral, she takes a visit into the deep woods, troubled by the sounds of bells and chanting she keeps hearing that apparently no one can hear but her.
She is afraid that she is going crazy, that the death of her partner and friend has driven her over the edge. But the trip to the mountains ends with her being drawn into a land called Ladrana, where she is fated to become a Marshall and lead the fight against the darkness trying to invade the land.
But right from the start, the marshalls piss Alexa off by putting her through tests that could have killed her, and by not explaining anything to her. Admittedly, there is the small problem of learning the language of Ladrana, which seems to be an ancient version of French, but Alexa is more pissed that they didn't even try to explain anything to her or even ask her permission to bring her to this land in the first place. And the way they try to tie her to the land by making her choose a mate, again, without any explanation, continues to piss her off.
By the end of her first night in Ladrana, she has recieved the jade baton of Marshall-ship, rescued a man named Bastien from a pool of liquid that burns as it heals you, and defeated a monster all on her own, as well as saved a child from being killed. But she has a specific mission to perform to save Ladrana. Alexa must discover how to revive the barrier that repels the creatures of the dark, as the one that currently protects Ladrana is failing. And she must decide on her own whether to stay or go...
You see, even though she was pulled to Ladrana, she is still tied to earth by virtue of having grown up there. The song of earth still runs in her soul. If she chooses, she could return to her life on earth. But if she happens to fall in love on Ladrana, the choice to return may not be as easy as it looks, and now she seems to be falling in love with Bastien, the man she saved on her first night in the Palace... who just so happens to be the son of the Marshall who is in strongest opposition to calling on her in the first place. Will his love be enough to save her from her enemies? and will she choose Bastien and Ladrana, or will she choose to return to earth and her life there? Will she chose to stay in a land not her own?
I really enjoyed this book, and was unable to stop myself from almost literally tearing through the pages, even though I was in the hospital, half out of my mind on painkillers at the time I was reading it. Alexa may be grieving and confused at the start of the book, but her peppery personality comes through and then some! While many characters might be frightened and confused by what happens to her in the book, Alexa refused to be pushed around or taken for granted. She made her own choices at every turn, often confounding the people who were pushing her to have her do things a certain way.
Even her relationship with Bastien didn't proceed until Alexa was ready and willing to forgive him for his treatment of her after the first night they spent together. I did like the idea that having sex with Bastien enabled Alexa and Bastien to mingle their knowledge. She gained a better understanding of the language, and he a better understanding of her own. I really liked that idea, and while it may have been a necessity for the story, I found it rather amusing.
The only quibble I actually had was that Alexa's finding out how to rebuild the barrier seemed much more of a fortuitous accident than anything she actually worked out for herself. Even though it is built up to, the solution itself seemed to come out of left field for the character and the story both. Other than that, I really enjoyed the book, and am looking forward to reading the final volume of the series, whenever it comes out.
In short, this book is definitely up to the high standards Robin D. Owens set with her Celta novels, and I am definitely willing to read more from her. I just wish she would write faster! :D