Though she is intended for the king, Calista Thorne picks up a crossbow to defend her ancestral home, Blackbriar Keep, from a gang of landless knights. She even manages to sink a poison-tipped arrow into their commander, who survives long enough to conquer the Keep and claim Calista for his own. Now, with her father's life at stake, Calista must nurse the brigand back to health, and the strangest thing happens: She finds herself fascinated by his tautly muscled body, and enthralled by his hotly whispered demands.
Ever since his father's death, the fearsome warrior they call Torch has been consumed by his quest for revenge. Taking Blackbriar Keep is the first step in that plan, and—by the three gods—it won't be the last. But after taking one look into Calista's smoldering gray eyes, Torch discovers a passion nobler than retribution. He will fulfill his destiny and take her from the usurper king, even in his weakened state. For with Calista's love, no man has ever felt more powerful.
Calista has to witness the loss of her father's keep to the enemy. In a last attempt to fight them off, she shoots their leader, Torch. When the keep is taken, Torch falls ill and as it was her bolt that hit him, it is up to her to nurse him back to health otherwise the consequences will be rather dire...
Nursing Torch, Calista gets to know him and suddenly his outrageous order to marry him doesn't sound that outrageous anymore. Of course, she was always destined to marry a king - was she? And - which king is her destiny?
Fate brought them together, will men tear them apart?
I loved how Torch, the seemingly bad and dishonorable nobody, proves that honor is not a question of money or riches but of character. Reading about him and his interactions with his men and those around him, you easily understand why his men (and not only them) trust him and follow him.
Oh, I shouldn't forget those amazing characters! Calista is a great character, of course, I always love strong heroines and she is authentic, strong and, well, I'd love to have her as a friend. Torch is also amazing as well as complex, honorable, strong, stubborn (very!) and courageous but the minor characters are also well developed, interesting and complex.
I really enjoyed reading this book and have already reread it. It is a nice mixture of some authentic, somewhat dark (but never too dark, too drastic or too graphic) medieval scenery and some mystic elements and of course, it has a well written and well plotted story that keeps the reader captivated from the first page to the last.
The book was even more enjoyable as it describes the happenings and the heavy fighting but never too detailed or too drastic. It's not like some books (or movies) where you better keep a tally to be able to keep track of the number of deaths (or the number of people left). We are talking about the really dark times, even though the book is set in a fictional country, it hints at Scotland and medieval Britain and we all know that it was a time where a man's life meant nothing and many horrible things happened. All this is implied and sometimes hinted at, the ffeling of danger is there but the reader never really gets confronted with the gruesome details. It's not like some books where you feel that somewhere you must have taken a wrong turn and ended up in a slaughterhouse. You get the feeling but it is told in a way that you can still thoroughly enjoy the nice story and the wonderful love story.
Okay, to cut a long story short - I really enjoyed this well written and imaginative book and will definitely read it again.