A new villain has emerged beyond the ether. Will two hybrids who have never wanted to rule find a way to stand up together in the face of evil?
What’s it About?
A new era dawns as ancient threats emerge…
Tordor, son of Queen Miranda and King Sathan, was born to inherit the immortal throne. But deep within, he feels a calling to help his people in other ways. As their imminent immersion with the humans looms, he joins a clandestine team to offer his skills.
Esmerelda, daughter of Elf King Dakath, has spent centuries evading her father’s cruelty. Striving to create peace, she leads the team that will approach the humans after the destruction of the ether. Having the kind, diplomatic immortal heir on her team is a fortunate bonus.
As Esme and Tor work together to unify the realms, Dakath’s interference intensifies, reinforcing Esme’s vow to remain free of close bonds. Even if the handsome prince is determined to break through her walls and claim her as his immortal mate…
Can Tordor push past Esme’s fears, or will her father destroy their future before it’s begun?
After seven books you’d think by now I would be used to the author’s ability to take us on a thrilling journey with each new installment in this series, but it still manages to surprise me every time. The Diplomatic Heir presents us with a new immortal species or two, a brand new setting beyond the walls of Etherya’s Earth, and the emergence of a dastardly new villain. Caught in the middle of it all are our two featured leads, Tordor and Esme, delightful new characters that I’m hoping we’ll see featured again and again throughout the rest of the series. They are natural-born leaders who are hesitant to lead, but will always succeed in finding a voice to stand up for their people when it matters most.
This seventh book does a fantastic job of laying the groundwork for future novels in the series, while also creating a substantive amount of personalized drama for Tordor and Esme to hold our attention throughout this one. In hindsight it was kind of surprising to realize that for an Etherya’s Earth book the vast majority of the plot takes place outside of the world of immortals. However, we can see how necessary this change in setting was to act as a transitional point between the world we once knew before the ether fell, and the reality our characters live in now that the ether has been destroyed. It’s only a matter of time before humans are fully aware of the existence of immortals, so we need to see the beginning phases of how the people of Etherya intend to make this as smooth a transition as possible. Aside from our lead couple, we are introduced to so many new characters who will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in this progressive integration.
If there was just one minor issue I had with this novel, it would be that we flip back and forth and sideways to so many different characters in the first half of the novel that I had a minor case of whiplash. We’ll see a chapter told from Esme’s point of view, followed by Tordor, then travel over to see what crazy thoughts our villain Dakath has, or we might go back to Etherya to check in on the couple from the first novel (a true delight), but maybe there’s a chapter to be told of a hardened soldier moving on from a lost love, or a playboy spy intent on helping our heroes succeed. Now, don’t get me wrong, the mere introduction of these side characters has me craving more of their stories almost as badly as I crave hot cocoa on a cold winter’s night. My interest has been piqued so much I can’t decide who I want to have their own novel first! Nevertheless, it was still a kind of character overload that would make me miss the focus on our lead couple for a time. By the second half of the novel we have a clearer understanding of how all the characters fit together, and Esme and Tor’s romance really picks up steam to a point where their chemistry can’t help but take center stage. It’s just that first half which felt somewhat discombobulated as we jumped from character to character.
The Runner and the Virgin
I have fallen in love with every couple in this series, and Esme and Tor are near the top of the list when it comes to two characters who simply feel right with each other. We’re dealing with a friends-to-lovers scenario, which is always one of my favorite tropes. They made perfect sense as a couple, and yet their road from friendship to an intimate relationship was not a straightforward one. Esme has a complicated past which makes her hesitant to form deep emotional attachments with others due to the fear that her evil father will kill them. Enter Tor. He is her equal in every way, and will do everything in his power to support her vision for peace. He also happens to be a virgin, and the incorporation of this element into the overall plot of the novel was absolute perfection. It added a layer of complexity to their connection, but it also wasn’t the defining feature of their relationship. Tor has been saving himself for a woman important enough to want to share that moment with, and practically upon first meeting Esme he knows that she’s the one.
When he learns more about her complicated background of running, Tor knows with absolutely certainty that the reveal of his virginity will make Esme want to flee. And it does. Not because she thinks there’s too much pressure over the idea of being his first, but rather because she knows it will establish yet another emotional bond between them that will make it even harder for her to run away after the deed is done. When they do finally come together in a physical sense, amidst all of the complications and drama going on in their lives, they still manage to find laughter and joy with each other. It’s a talented author indeed who can successfully bring laughter into the bedroom without it feeling awkward or forced, but Rebecca Hefner managed to show us two friends celebrating life in the midst of their intimacy, and it’s a glorious sight to behold.
The Formidable Foe
When the ether fell between the immortal world and the human realm, Esme was determined to ensure a smooth integration of the species, yet from opening bell she understood that she probably wouldn’t be able to see the entire project through to completion. For centuries, Esme has been on the run from her powerful Elf father, Dakath. He has a determination of his own, but rather than the honorable mission his daughter fights for, Dakath will do whatever is necessary to ensure that the Elven bloodline remains pure. Even if that means killing any Elf-human hybrids he comes across. Even if it means his own daughter is a hybrid, and he’s intent on extending her torture by killing anyone with whom she forms an emotional attachment. This is why Esme knows her time with the integration team is limited, and even though her heart is pulling her towards Tor, her brain is telling her she has to flee to keep him and the rest of their team safe.
Tor acts as the perfect partner by not always insisting or demanding that she stay with him. He shows Esme that sometimes it’s more important to live in the moment while they still have time with each other, rather than always look for the tipping point which will force her to leave. And while that tipping point does eventually rise up, their journey has made her realize that she’s no longer alone. Esme can finally face her father with other people standing alongside her. They’re so much stronger together than she could ever be running off on her own, and for the first time in centuries she has hope. Dakath is certainly a formidable foe who won’t go down easy, and I have a feeling he might even strike down a few more we’ll come to know and love in his destructive path towards what he deems as purity. However, it will be quite the thrill to see how this badass team of warriors turned family will stand up against him every step of the way. Game on.
*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*
Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 7. I’d recommend reading the series in order. We are presented with two teases in this book. One is a glimpse of what’s in store for book 8, which I need to have in my hands, like, yesterday. The other was a teasing mention that only the most die-hard fans of this writer would recognize, which was the oh-so-casual name drop of the town of Ardor Creek. To say that my mouth dropped open in an exclamation of, “oh no she didn’t!!” would be the understatement of the year.
Would I befriend the heroine? I have a feeling our mutual tendency for quips and Chandler Bing-like sarcastic comments would mesh together quite well.
Do I crave the hero? I gotta say, this is one male lead I’d probably have to kick out of bed. But only because he snores like a freight train. Would I first drag him into bed before kicking him out of it? Absolutely.
Final Impressions: The new generation of immortals have firmly established themselves in this series, and proven that they are just as engaging as the OG’s who came before. This series is a plethora of lovable characters, and while we may have been introduced to a few too many new ones all at once in this seventh book, it’s undeniable that each and every one will play a crucial role in how this drama unfolds over the next few novels. I’m excited by this new villain, whose twisted motivations put him toe-to-toe with Crimeous in the malicious category. Esme and Tor are everything you could ever want in a lead couple, and in a pair of leaders. The heart of this series will always show us that while the road to good triumphing over evil might be an arduous one, it’s also attainable when surrounded by friends and family who will have your back around every dark corner.
Smut Level: There are definitely some graphic and descriptive scenes, but on the whole I would say their sexual relationship is quite tame, all things considered. Tor and Esme certainly desire each other, but they sort of ease their way into things because of Tor’s virginity. He’s definitely an eager student though, just as Esme is a dedicated teacher.
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 316 Pages.