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Queen In Exile by Donna Hatch

Rumors of war hang over Princess Jeniah's peaceful country of Arden, a land that shuns both magic and warfare. Following a lifelong dream, Jeniah forms a telpathic bond with a revered creature called a chayim, who is prophesied to save her kingdom. But when a Darborian knight comes upon Jeniah with her chayim, he sees only a vicious monster about to devour a maiden, and he slays the beast.

Devastated by the loss of her chayim, and fearing that her own magic is evil, Jeniah doubts her destiny. When an enemy invades Arden City, they slaughter the people, storm the castle, and execute the entire royal family except the princess. Rescued by the knight who slew her chayim, Jeniah is now heir to the throne of Arden and the only hope for freeing her people from tyranny.

On the run and hunted by enemy soldiers, Jeniah must place her life and the fate of her kingdom in the hands of this trained killer. Torn between embracing her destiny as queen of Arden, and her love for a mere knight, she must ultimately rely on her magic to save herself and her people from death and tyranny.

Jeniah is a pampered Princess (which ones aren't?) who must learn to trust her magic and relearn to trust those around her. She wasn't allowed to participate in kingdom affairs because a woman doesn't have the smarts. No one believed she was capable, not even Jeniah.
Kai, a handsome and skillful warrior vows to become her protector, must learn to reopen his heart. Together they must save Jeniah's kingdom and trust their emotions and each other.
And fall in love. Of course, they are wrong for each other. Jeniah is royalty and Kai a commoner.
I enjoyed watching Jeniah and Kai growing throughout the story. I really, really wanted them to find a way to be together by the end of story.
I was a tad disappointed that Jeniah's magic didn't grow with her. I understand the reasoning behind making her go through hardships to become stronger, but still! I wanted to see her bust a few bad guys.

I didn't get hooked from the start probably because the place is magical and I was introduced to the world. But this story is character driven so I didn't notice as much.
This story is a good, clean, romance with a strong female character, handsome, strong warrior and intrigue.

Rating PG
S: None
L: None
V: war

I've been wanting to try the 'page 69' test on my reviews. Supposedly, if you turn to page 69, you can tell right away if it's a book you want to read. Or at the very least, it will entice you.
Let's try it and you tell me what you think.

Something was wrong. Danger lurked nearby. He realized that he hadn't seen her guards in several minutes. His muscles bunched, screaming for action.
"Get back inside the cave," he ordered tersely. "Here." He handed her one of is daggers hilt first. "Use this on anyone who comes near you."
She accepted the dagger, holding it with her thumb and forefinger as if it were some sort of filthy rodent. He resisted the urge to reposition her hand on the hilt. The weapon was purely precautionary; he would ensure that no one would get close enough for her o need it.
He waited until she was inside the cave before moving to the line of trees. The forest sounds around him noticeably absent, Kai reached out with all of his senses.
There. A furtive movement. not a guard. Kai soundlessly withdrew a dagger and let it fly. A strangled groan sounded. Kai glanced back at the cave but no one came near the princess's hiding place.
He crept into the woods, searching for additional threats. All the forest sounds had hushed. Kai moved forward and discovered Breneg's lifeless body, pierced by darts. Controlling his anger, Kai slowed, moving more cautiously into the trees. The rustling of leaves led him to a dark young man with Hanoran features, writhing on the ground the hilt of Kai's dagger protruded from his chest and his face twisted in pain.
Kai leaned over him. "Are you part of a strike team, or are you a spy?"
Hatred glittered in the boy's eyes and he clamped his mouth shut.
"How many more of you are there here?" Kai pressed.
As the Hanoran struggled for a last breath, he spit at Kai. Then he was dead.


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