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The Forest Lord    by Susan Krinard order for
Forest Lord
by Susan Krinard
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2002 (2002)

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

A millennia before Men inhabited the Earth, magical creatures protected the lands and forests surrounding Hartsmere. Hern, guardian spirit of the Forests and youngest son of Oberon and Titania, is tired of his life among mortals and longs to return to the Land of the Young. But he cannot do so unless he brings with him a son to replenish his race, sired upon a mortal woman of his choosing.

When Cyrus Fleming, Earl of Bradwell, trespasses upon protected ground, he is forced to make a bargain with Hern who demands Bradwell give him his daughter or die a horrible death. Fleming agrees, but only if Hern wins his daughter's love. Hern comes to court Lady Eden, announcing himself as her 'long lost cousin' and soon their nuptials are announced. On the eve of her wedding and after a night of unimaginable passion with her betrothed, Lady Eden could not be happier; she foresees a wonderful loving life with the perfect husband. But her idealistic young dreams are shattered when 'Cornelius Fleming' reveals his true nature - one that is not human at all but that of a beast. Horrified for herself and also for the child she already carries, Lady Eden flees Hartsmere and the monster she almost married.

London has been Eden's refuge and also her prison since her escape from Hartsmere. Her Aunt Claudia has been the only person to offer solace and support during the six years Eden has endured a loveless marriage to a gambler and ne'er do well, the only man who'd have her after her unfortunate embarrassment on Gretna Green. Now her husband lies on his deathbed and with his final gasps informs Eden that the child she conceived that terrible night (and that she believed was stillborn) is alive and living in Ireland with foster parents. Shocked at the news and feeling deeply betrayed, Eden returns to Hartsmere, vowing to find the son so cruelly taken from her.

The moment Eden sets foot within the realm of his enchanted forest, Lord Hern stirs from his self-imposed slumber. His rage knows no bounds once he discovers the Flemings had betrayed him yet again by lying about his newborn son's death. Vowing to make them pay, most especially Eden, he transforms from his true guise of magical creature to that of 'Hartley Shaw', a proud common man who has an uncommon gift with animals and with Eden's son, Donal.

Eden finds her new responsibilities as mother and mistress of Hartsmere somewhat overwhelming at first but through sheer determination she wins over her tenants and her son. Winning over Hartley Shaw is another matter. His arrogance is maddening. Yet why is she so attracted to this man and what is the uncanny connection he has with Donal? Despite herself and her aunt's warnings that dallying with Shaw will bring nothing but heartache, Eden finds herself more and more drawn to this mysterious man. Hern too, realizes that the Lady Eden is making him experience something he never thought possible for his kind - the very human emotion of love; a love that is soon threatened by others who would see the Forest Lord and his son destroyed once and for all.

Susan Krinard has created another truly magical story in The Forest Lord. Her characters are strong and compelling and fit perfectly into their Regency setting. There are also just enough touches of Faerie lore and legend to delight yet never detract from the central conflict between Hartley and Eden. Here's hoping Ms. Krinard further delights readers with a sequel or two - she's only just scratched the surface with this enchanting tale and the characters she introduced in it, both human and fey.

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