|This is the sixty-first book in the Terran Times series. I have read them all. They do not need to be read in order, however, I recommend reading Destined (which is the fifty-eighth book in the series) before this one. The reason I suggest this is because Rhoda (that story's heroine) is instrumental in bringing this story into actuality. Her husband is Prince Drehl, or as one of the Guardians, Charm.
This story begins with Rhoda handing a sketch to her husband. She's got a little project she's working on trying to find mates for the Terran women who are in her little space neighborhood. She's found the last few in Janial Prison since those ladies don't like to roll over and just obey what some of the nobles from the area want them to do. Now we find Amethyst Decker, Amy, in her little cell. She's pulled from the prison by a Guardian named Blade and she isn't sure who sent her. Blade takes her to a secure planet and leaves her at the house of Lord Akutan of Rai, who used to be the original Blade. His Lordship isn't home so the current Blade leaves Amy in the care of the housekeeper Teriki to be instructed in how to dress, communicate and behave on Rai. The planet is a bit conservative. We don't meet Akutan until a quarter into the story.
Sigh. Okay, I have to say, the costume on the cover looks exactly like the clothing described by Ms. Grace. I think it looks too heavy, uncomfortable and difficult to wear. I'm also relieved I don't have to wear anything like that. Akutan is too curious to stay away and returns home in time to be completely blown away by Amy. Teriki did a wonderful job of teaching, er, training Amy about Rai and Akutan is impressed. He also just can't help himself whenever he's with her. For her part, Amy is drawn to Akutan but torn about it since everything he tries to do with her, like their seating at meals, is completely against Rai protocol. No, I didn't feel sorry for her at all.
Now, I do appreciate Ms. Grace's attention to costume details but I really got tired of all the pages of robes, layers of robes as well as all the time bathing before getting into the layers of robes. I felt, certainly for the first half, this was just a story about Japanese style costumes. After we hit the halfway point the story became more engaging for me with Amy doing more than dressing and more than worrying about her etiquette. I actually do enjoy Ms. Grace's Guardian stories as I think the heroines are pretty awesome in general. I'm sorry to say there was just something missing in this under the layers of robes.
Reviewer: Teresa T.