The particulars: Historical Fantasy, DAW, available as e-book and in print
The Source: Purchased at Books on Board, I think.
The Grade: C+
Richard Whitestone is an Elemental Earth Master. Blaming himself for the death of his beloved wife in childbirth, he has sworn never to set eyes on his daughter, Suzanne. But when he finally sees her, a dark plan takes shape in his twisted mind-to use his daughter's body to bring back the spirit of his long-dead wife
I have had this book for years, but never got around to read it until now.
It was nice to revisit the world of the Elemental Masters. The alternative Europe that Ms Lackey has created felt very believable to me. From the moors of Yorkshire to the battlefields of Europe, it felt like I was there.
I liked Susanne and Peter. Susanne was smart, down to earth and had a good dose of common sense. Peter played the gentleman to the fingertop. He was used to a certain level of comfort. It was fascinating to watch how he used other peoples misconception to coax out clues.
It was also interesting to see how Susanne's father changed from the Earth Master he was at the beginning, and how he started to use darker magics. ( I'll admit that he gave me the creeps.)
The fantasy part of the plot was well crafted, if a bit predictable. I liked read about Susanne's journey from the moors of Yorkshire to the battlefields of France. I liked how they managed to thwart her father through pure ingeniousity, but that they also realised that Susanne had to leave England. I liked how the war made life harder for Susanne, and how it gave her life a direction. I liked how she and Peter kept on trying to stop her father, and how it was Susanne who came up with the plan that finally succeeded.
What pulls down the grade is the romance. It felt.. unbalanced. Not in the way that Susanne is a Squire's daughter and Peter is the son of an higher ranking noble. But it stems more from the fact that Susanna spent a big part of the story being infatuated with another man. While Peter was gradually falling in love with her. They did get their HEA, but Susanne's part felt very rushed.