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Rachel Haimowitz

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Counterpoint: Book I of Song of the Fallen
by Rachel Haimowitz   

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Publisher:  Guiltless Pleasure Publishing ISBN-10:  9659151101 Type: 


Copyright:  2009 ISBN-13:  9789659151103

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Counterpoint: Book I of Song of the Fallen

It is the twilight of mankind. Depleted by generations of war with a dark race, the human kingdoms and their ancient alliance stand on the brink of extinction. The outlands are soaked with the blood of the fallen. The midlands are rotting with decadence and despair.

Elfkind, estranged by past crimes, watches and waits for nature to run its course.

And then the two collide.

Discover what happens when a proud elf warrior becomes the slave of an honor-bound human prince, in a world where their mutual attraction goes against everything they've ever learned.

It is the twilight of mankind. Depleted by generations of war with a dark race, the human kingdoms and their ancient alliance stand on the brink of extinction. The outlands are soaked with the blood of the fallen. The midlands are rotting with decadence and despair.

Elfkind, estranged by past crimes, watches and waits for nature to run its course.

And then the two collide.

Ayden's life has long been guided by two emotions: love for his sister, and hatred of all things human. When he's captured in battle, he must for his sister's sake swallow his pride and endure slavery in the service of a human prince. To his dismay, this close-up view of his enemy is nothing like he expected. Now curiosity and contempt make a battlefield of his soul, even as he struggles to pick up the pieces of his shattered worldview.

Freyrik Farr, Crown Prince of Farr Province, finds his new elven prisoner puzzling. He's always known elves to be beautiful and dangerous, but never has one affected him as deeply as Ayden. Can his life of service to his people leave room for this attraction? Dancing on a dagger's edge between duty and high treason, Freyrik discovers that some choices can change a life, and some an entire world.

Between prejudice, politics, pride, and survival, Ayden and Freyrik must carve a new path, no matter how daunting. For nothing less than the fate of both their peoples rests on the power of their perseverance -- and their love.

Ayden awoke to wrongness.

He shoved his furs aside and tuned his inner ear to the forest's song—the bass hum of the trees, the trills of insects—a thousand points of sound merged in near-perfect harmony. He sniffed the air as he listened, detecting nothing but a faint whiff of last night's cook-fire, the loam of the forest floor, the comforting scents of the massive red cedars and the stream running by his campsite.

And there was the wrongness, the faintest whisper of jagged notes worming through the forest song. Had a human dared to cross into their lands?

Ayden's lips pulled back from his teeth in a grin entirely void of humor. Time for a hunt.

He unwove the branches of his shelter with an impatient mental hum and stepped out into the first light of day. A second sound reached his ears then, a physical one this time: dull hoof beats and snapping branches, faint but rising by the moment. The approaching racket might be nothing more than an animal on the hunt, but he dare not take that chance.

He stooped to grab his kit, lashing his furs to his satchel and slinging it and his fighting sticks across his back. Then he dropped a sleeping dart into his blowpipe and once again cast both inner and outer ears to the ruckus rushing closer, closer . . .

And sighed, relieved, when he recognized the sound for what it was: a pair of wild boars tearing down the path to his campsite. He lowered his weapon and tuned his other hearing to the boarsongs, churning crescendos of urgency and blind rage. They were almost upon him already. Ayden spun a soothing melody in his mind, a half-forgotten lullaby, and sent it to weave through the boars' frantic tempos—

The two boars emerged into the clearing, drawing to a halt not two feet before him, heads bent and hooves pawing at the earth.

"What haste, fierce ones?"

Of course they couldn't understand him, but it felt good to use his voice again.

Not surprisingly, the boars responded about as intelligently as most people would: one snorted, and the other squealed.

The squealer took a hesitant step forward and to the side, then stopped again. Its gaze shifted from Ayden to the path beyond and back. Ayden closed his eyes, tried to hear what the boars were hearing, what was driving them forward so urgently. And there it was again, the wrongness, just a whisper yet but a precursor, he knew, of a powerful wail to come: the Hunter's Call, summoning beasts to twist with hate before siccing them upon the human realms.

"Ah." Ayden opened his eyes and nodded at the boars. "I'd not discourage you from such a noble task, but you must know the humans will kill you?"

The squealer took another step forward. This time, the snorter joined him.

Who was he to argue with that?

He stepped aside. Freed of his influence, the boars bolted across the clearing and disappeared back into the dense wood.

Ayden took off after them at a hard run. He followed them for hours, even though he knew with fair certainty where they would go. Indeed, they did not disappoint.

The sun had crested the sky by the time they reached the boundary between the elven and Feral lands, where a foot-wide crack cut through the forest like a fatal wound. No life grew near the fissure for twenty paces, the very earth scorched into volcanic rock and great sheets of muddy glass. No elf had crossed the fissure for over two-and-a-half centuries. The boars, however, trotted over without pause, drawn inexorably by the Call that wailed like death in Ayden's inner ear.

Ayden stopped short, loath to set foot or toe upon the deadened earth.

Instead he found the tallest tree at forest's edge: a massive red cedar, its trunk as big around as twenty of him and its lowest branches a good dozen paces overhead.

"I don't suppose you'd offer me a hand up?" he asked, placing a hand upon the trunk and trying to coax a branch to bend within his reaching.

Alas, this tree had sung its melody unchanging for over two thousand years, and it had no interest in shifting for a whelp such as he—never mind that he'd seen a century or eight himself.

Ah, well. He hadn't really thought it would. He fished his steel bearclaws from his satchel, buckled them onto each boot and each hand, and started up the trunk the hard way.

Long minutes later, sticky with sap and quivering with fatigue, Ayden broke through the canopy. He dug his farseer from his satchel and peered through the lens. From this new vantage point over a hundred paces high, he could see south across the cultivated human lands for nearly three leagues, and the same distance west across the forest canopy of the Feral lands into the Myrkr Mountains. A few leagues southwest, in the direction the boars had gone, he spotted a dozen crowned eagles gliding over a low mountain peak. No, not just gliding . . . they were circling as a pack, wingtips splayed like fingers on a massive hand.

Crowned eagles never flew in flocks, could barely tolerate each other even when mating. He could hear the wrongness pouring from them in pounding, discordant waves.

Command would wish to know of this. Ayden balanced himself between the trunk and two narrow branches, letting them take his weight, and focused his mind on forming a signal cloud. 'Twas no easy feat for him, a naturally adequate musician at best, to hear the cloudsong so far away and amongst so much noise from the forest below, but at last he detected faint threads of it, high notes jittering chaotic and fast in the upper sky, and he shaped them with his mind into clear lines and measures. Above him, three clouds merged into two and formed the symbol for Ferals and a navigational marker.

He held them as long as he could, gritting his teeth against the strain. But his clouds drifted quickly, and a moment later he gave up, panting, and let them scatter. No matter, though; Command would have seen the signal immediately and understood.

The Surge was building.

Professional Reviews

The Erotic Reader
Counterpoint: Song of the Fallen (Volume 1 of 2) is an erotic tale of fantasy and romance between an elf and the prince who has captured him. Set on a world where elves and humans live apart because of a war waged between the two many years ago, this story has a well-built, full, and rich universe with truly well-crafted characters.

When Ayden is captured after being responsible for the deaths of several humans, he bargains with the Prince of Farr Province for his sister's safety. Freyrik is attracted to the elf like he's never been attracted to anyone else before and he's more than pleased to accept Ayden's bargain.

Erotically-charged, but not overdone, this story is an excellent romance as the characters learn more about each other and their differences-and similarities.

I have one very big gripe and that's the cliffhanger ending. There's a second book due out in this series, but it's a long time coming with a release date sometime next year. It's my understanding that this second book will tie up this story, but as someone who's addicted to her happy endings, I wasn't thrilled to find myself stuck at the end. Some of the storylines resolve themselves, but many more don't.

However, that said, this was a really great captor/captive romance and I'm a huge fan of those. (Warrior's Woman, anyone? LOL.) If you enjoy the same, you should really try this one out. Counterpoint is good fantasy and great romance!

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