Title: The Last Warrior
Author: Karen Kay
Published in March 2008 by Berkley Sensations
"Many centuries ago, a village killed the children of the Thunder God. For their crime, the Creature banished them to live a half existence in the land of mists, neither dead nor alive.
But once in a generation, a brave is given the opportunity to save his clan."
He waited in the shadows of her mind, but she could not acknowledge him. She did not know him, yet Suzette Jocelyn is not willing or ready to listen. When the wild-west show comes into town, Suzette is not enthused, but goes with her grandmother Irena, and her fiancť, William Blair, Earl of Lankersheim. Suzette has heard about this rowdy entertainment. The Wild West Show of Buffalo Bill Cody was all the rage, stories about the exploits of the daring and wild American were said to be true, but she only attends because at Irenaís insistence. She is not certain it is the proper kind of entertainment for a prospective countess, but, being reassured by her grandmother and accompanied by the Earl, she has no choice. She is cautious and wary, always conscious of her social perceptions. Being the daughter of opera stars, and being associated with that ďloose crowdĒ makes her excruciatingly aware of her actions. But Suzette was not enamoured with that lifestyle, even though her talents were not small. She was a star in her own right, praised far and wide. It was not what she wanted. She wanted position, respect, and love.
The craving for those three things was overriding in all her considerations through out her life. Suzette did not intend to ascribe to the notion she had to compromise herself in order to rise to prima donna. She has worked very hard, and achieved the position on hard work, not on her back. But things were about to change for her, and destiny was to intervene. Her carefully laid plans were rent asunder by Lady Blair, and in one fell cut, delivered the end of her hopes to her in one visit. Suzette realized she had no intention of allowing her some to marry someone so below him in social standing, but being kind, rather naÔve, she did not stand a chance against this matron, a bulwark of society and status conscious. Of course, she had never realized William was such a mamaís boy either, her perceived love, her social consciousness had blinded her to the truth. Suzette had to finally realize she would not achieve her dreams. Suzette was not born near enough to the purple to be acceptable in society. She didnít have the required pedigree, had no status, and to make matters worse, Irena had run off to join Wild Bill in America. The only thing Suzette had left was a broken heart to show for her stubborn beliefs she could change the status quo.
Black Lion was the last ď Chosen One,Ē his tribe the last to be freed from the wrath and the curse of Thunder God. It was a chance to break the enchantment holding his people hostage, and he had only one try to succeed. He also realized, with the help of the Medicine Man White Claw that his challenge was the most important. It was also probably the hardest, because even in the Veil, rumours were rife that the Thunder God was not going to let this last tribe go. The tribe was dying, the Veil robbing them of the offspring to send forth. He was the last with the ability necessary to meet the challenge to free his people, and it was a great burden. The fate of the whole tribe lay on his shoulders, one man, one warrior to face the Thunder God in a final battle to prove the worth of the tribe, to prove they merit freedom, to prove their departure from the dishonour of their elders in the past. Black Lion was taken into one of the Hunkapapa Tribes of the Lakota, and there, among his brothers, he found friend, and pursued his vision, searched for the key to his peopleís release.
Now he faced a choice, and honour would not let him turn down the plight of a friend. He put his quest on hold. His vision quest told him to look for a white manís song, that it held the power to change Thunder Godís heart. Black Lion was searching for the bearer of a song he could not sing, he had to find the woman, hear the song for himself, sing it with her without a mistake and the Veil would be lifted from his people. He thought he would not find what he wanted in England, but he took Two Bears place in Wild Bill Hickcockís show, even knowing his quest would be postponed, and time was running out. He didnít know what would face him, but the consequences of actions there would have an effect on his return to his home. When he returned home, he would have only one more year to complete the quest, one year left in which to free his family, his friends, his tribe. The life in foreign lands cannot end fast enough for him, and his return home is welcomed. Only one he is back home can he find the answers he needs, or has he found them already?
From the mists of time, people have had legends about lost peoples, lost tribes, and lost civilizations. Karen Kay has chosen her topic well, brought forth legend and times when they were honoured. The Last Warrior is an intensely beautiful book, written on a backdrop of the 1890ís west, Karen takes us on a voyage of discovery with a young brave who has values not understood in the white world. Black Lion is led on a quest that leads him not only to Europe, but to the very one he seeks. There, yet unknown at the time, he finds the meaning of love. Too preoccupied to do anything but his job, the revelations come to him alter when he finds a pregnant and very lost Suzette in The Song Birdís tent. Known for her voice, Irena has followed Bill Hickcock and his show to America, she has her own agenda, her own quest, but when Suzette joins her, and when Black Lion comes into the mix, then the world spins, and thunder rolls, and only the gods can know what might come from the mix.
The Last Warrior has a rich background, a wealth of beautiful scenery, a host of magnetic characters, and a story you will not be able to put down. The tension and attraction that flares between Suzette and Black Lion is riddled with passion and desire. From their first accidental meeting in England when he proposes marriage, to her acceptance of his proposal in her auntís tent at the Wild West Show in the US, We are rooting for them both as we learn of the circumstances, of the bond, and of the sacrifices each are willing to make for the other. Only when you finish the book will you understand. This is a book of depth and sensitivity as well as being a wonderful romance. The Last Warrior will make you laugh, cry, and cheer as the terms of the quest are outlined, and the players take their places in the drama to come. Only then does Karen Kay allow the readers to see the possible ending, and even then keeps one on the edge of the seat until the end. The Last Warrior makes room and stands among the books by authors like Madeline Baker, Susan Edwards, and Cassie Edwards. It is out now, available through Amazon from Berkley. Donít forget to put it on your list before you make the next trip to your local bookstore either. The Last Warrior is a book you will read over and over again, and a great addition to your keeper shelf.
Yours in good reading,