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Lord of the Beasts    by Susan Krinard order for
Lord of the Beasts
by Susan Krinard
Order:  USA  Can
Harlequin, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Donal Fleming may have chosen to live in the human realm to remain close to his parents and siblings, but it is an environment in which he's never felt comfortable. As a prince of Tir Na Gog, he's inherited his father's gift of understanding and communicating with all wild creatures. Donal becomes a skilled veterinarian and uses his gift to heal, protect and in some cases even summon animals. He lives a solitary existence in rural Yorkshire, but a summons by the Zoological Society of London has him crossing paths with widow Cordelia Hardcastle, who's sent him numerous requests to examine ailing creatures she's rescued from dire or dangerous circumstances and added to her growing menagerie. She's certain her beloved animals will die, and believes Dr. Fleming may be her last hope.

Donal again rejects her plea, and returns to Yorkshire, complete with a few new friends, including a young girl named Ivy he rescues from the unwanted attentions of three London thugs. Oddly enough he must now turn for help to Mrs. Hardcastle when he realizes that a reclusive bachelor is ill-equipped to oversee the education and correct training of a young girl on the cusp of womanhood - most especially one who harbors an unmistakable crush on him. In exchange for Mrs. Hardcastle's help, Donal agrees to examine her menagerie. When he mentally communicates with each of his sick charges, he discovers why the animals are wasting away and helps them cope. He also becomes increasingly captivated by the outgoing Cordelia and her zest for adventure and begins to believe he could enjoy living a more human life with her at his side. But as his passion grows, so do his more primal instincts, ones Cordelia may not be able to accept.

This worthy sequel to The Forest Lord is another rich and beautifully written paranormal romance. Susan Krinard champions animal rights through Donal's characterization and his special bond with animals. He and Cordelia are both engaging, well-realized protagonists whose differences in temperament and station make them a less than ideal match. Cordelia's persistence and patience finally win over Donal, even when great obstacles arise and choices must be made. Krinard also provides an interesting, if sometimes overly intrusive sub-plot, involving the machinations within the kingdom of Tir Na Gog, and how a bitter grudge between the King and his former consort could well ruin the lives of two others very close to Donal. Even so, Lord of the Beasts is another charming story filled with magic.

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