As the Seelie Queen’s champion and captain of her guardsmen, Sel, son of Selgi, has lived a life ruled by duty and honor. For centuries, his Queen’s wishes have dictated his every action. Not once has he questioned the legendary seer-queen’s edicts or flinched upon receiving a new mission—that is, until now. The Queen has ordered him from her side and from her court so that he might take an unseelie as his mate, fulfilling the requirements of an ancient fey law long ignored. As if that weren’t bad enough, the Queen has named the unseelie girl. It is Riona, the dark and hauntingly beautiful bastard daughter of the morally corrupt Unseelie King. What the hell could the Queen be thinking?
Riona has lived most of her life hiding from her powerful father. She is the unwanted issue of a despised king and his lusty courtesan, a political pawn her father is determined to use to his advantage. But King Melwas can’t use what he can’t find. Riona, who has grown used to betrayal in the Unseelie Court, is grateful for the timely intervention of the Seelie Queen in escaping her dreary fate—that is, until she learns that the Queen intends to reward her captain by formally binding Riona to him. She knows Sel by reputation only. He is said to be cold, unfeeling, and frighteningly powerful. He is also rumored to be desperately in love with his sovereign. There is no chance that the Queen’s most loyal defender will ever truly love her, so why, then, cannot Riona steel her heart against him?
Added bonus: Blood & Fire, a Darkly Short Story
Airem’s strength is that he is dragon-kind. It is also his biggest weakness. Thanks to the perverted sense of humor of his own King and Queen, he is now the Seelie Queen’s enforcer tasked with catching and retrieving wayward fey who choose to flaunt the ban on traveling from their homeland of Tir na n-Og to the human realm. Not a bad gig really, since hunting comes naturally to him. Typically Airem likes tagging, bagging, and occasionally bedding a she-fey when they raid the populous looking to supply their fey pleasure dens with newly enchanted humans. The Queen has banned such practices in the Seelie Court, but the unseelie are a lusty and mischievous lot. After a hundred centuries of service to the Seelie Queen, Airem thought he had seen it all – but then she came looking for him. He knew the lavender-eyed unseelie was trouble the moment he locked eyes with her, but he just couldn’t seem to help himself.
Review: Readers’ Favorite
Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite
Kept Darkly is a work of paranormal romance fiction penned by author Tarrant Smith, and is the third book in the Darkly Series. In this return to the world of the stringent laws of Fey society, we meet the Seelie Queen, a unique seer, as she puts into action a political match which she thinks will benefit her nation as a whole. The queen intends to match her champion Sel to Riona, the bastard princess of the Unseelie King Melwas, but two problems stand in her way. Sel is very much loyal and in love with his queen, and Riona is a feisty, powerful Unseelie female who is sick of being used as a pawn in other people’s games.
For readers hunting for romances with strong leads and intense emotions, the Darkly Series is a great reading choice. I really enjoyed author Tarrant Smith’s character-building techniques and vivid descriptions, laying the thoughts and feelings out alongside almost cinematic moments of action to bring Sel and Riona to life. There is a wider, more complex story at work in the court and the kingdoms in general. However, the plot is constructed so that it does not overload with information but gives readers plenty of help to understand the wider implications of what’s going on around them. The central romance is unpredictable, steamy and very satisfying to read, and there was also a flirty, fun bonus story with more thrills for romance fans. Overall, Kept Darkly is a well-written addition to a deep and complex series.
Review: Literary Titan
Hiding far from her father, Riona never believed her life of isolation could change, much less change so drastically. For years, she has remained under the protection of the Seelie Queen and existed as a blemish on the face of her people. Riona knows her place and understands that she, for many reasons, must remain in hiding. When Riona, also known as Molly, is snatched from her home and finds herself assigned as the mate of the queen’s captain, Sel, she is more than baffled at her new station in life. Riona can’t help but wonder, and worry, what this actually means for her future.
Kept Darkly, the third book in the Darkly series by Tarrant Smith follows the unlikely pairing of Riona and Sel. Riona, by all rights, is far below Sel’s station in life and is painfully aware of the love he is said to have for the Seelie Queen. Smith’s decision to match Riona and Sel makes for an interesting plot that keeps the reader guessing as to the ultimate outcome–and hoping for a happy ending for the oppressed Riona.
I am always amazed at Smith’s character descriptions. Gloric is a prime example. An unseelie and questionable character all on his own, he is capable of metamorphosis. Smith draws a detailed picture of Gloric’s complete transformation in front of Riona. These types of scenes are definitely worth a reread and one of the hallmarks of Smith’s installments in the Darkly series. In addition, I was quite intrigued at the way in which Smith incorporates shapeshifting as one of Riona’s characteristics.
In the previous Darkly book, Smith provides readers with moments of comic relief, and Kept Darkly delivers the same. These brief scenes are welcome as the overall theme of the book is primarily thoughtful and brooding. With this installment, it’s not so much the dialogue that makes for the moments of comic relief but the images conjured by Smith’s narrative. I was particularly drawn to the levity created during the interactions between Sel and the sprite, Urias.
Smith’s characters are fascinating on many levels. Crank is easily my favorite of all Smith’s characters–I am partial to the unseelie. He is a no-holds-barred type of guy who says exactly what he means and has no problem making himself clear to anyone fortunate enough to listen to his tales. As with the metamorphosis of Gloric, I was impressed with the transfer of energy that takes place between Riona and Sel. What appears as a hopeless situation for Riona is suddenly turned around with minimal effort on Sel’s part.
Smith’s writing is beautifully descriptive and rich with character development. Readers following the series will enjoy getting to know Sel and watching his relationship with Riona bloom. The better part of book 3 feels dedicated to developing character relationships and describing the unique struggle between the seelie and unseelie groups, and fans of fantasy romance will find Smith’s work particularly fascinating.
About Literary Titan
The Literary Titan is a book review website which consists of mostly fiction books, but we do enjoy non fiction works that we’re excited about. All reviews are the reviewer’s honest opinion. We love books and read constantly (seriously, it’s an addiction). We’re always open to book review requests and have aspirations of one day being sucked into the Twilight Zone episode with Burgess Meredith where all he wants to do is read, but can’t until the world ends; you know what I mean? www.LiteraryTitan.com