My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts...
Hazel’s Promise is the second installment of an exciting new historical romance series by author Emily Larkin. This short “prologue” to the Baleful Godmothers series, and book 2 of The Fey Quartet, was rather lovely.
As stated above, The Fey Quartet portrays the backdrop telling the tales of the ancestors of the heroines of The Baleful Godmothers series, the first scheduled to be published in November 2016. I wasn’t sure how I should proceed until Ms. Larkin explained it to me. Even though it’s not necessary, I’d highly recommend that you start with the prologues as each story clarifies how a bloodline of humans, particularly the females, came to be in possession of a special ability of their own.
The whole series is set in Dapple Vale, a place hidden from the human eyes, though the ones that dwell there are humans...
Dapple Vale is surrounded by woods and hills and forests. It seemed to me like one of those magical places that no trouble, manmade or otherwise, can touch. Each little village of Dapple Vale has been blessed thus. There was, of course, a reason behind it. Dapple Vale bordered with the Fey world by a thinnest of thin, very invisible, line. Yes, the story takes place at a time when Fey rumored to have walked the earth. Or when the Norman’s invaded England. There were some pros and cons of living in a magical, evergreen place such as Dapple Vale. The pros were many but the cons weren’t something you could ignore. For one, the humans had to be ever cautious of their more cruel and capricious neighbors, making sure they never ever cross that line that could only be felt by a tingling on the back of one’s neck while walking the forest. Never communicate with a Fey, never ever make a bargain of any sort, if you could help it that is. They were not just cruel, they enjoyed playing with their human toys. Who knew what they’d make out of you, a chicken or a donkey! You simply never give them that chance! Any fool who dared venturing into their world had never returned. It’s something like Dapple Vale itself. Anyone who ventured out of this place could never return, unless that person had a token from the valley itself to show him the way back. It seemed that the whole valley, because of their contact with the Fey world, was quite invisible from the human world.
Maythorn’s Wish, book 1 of The Fey Quartet, introduced us to Maythorn AKA Widow Miller, and her 3 beautiful daughters—Ivy, Hazel and Larkspur. Maythorn’s story begins the journey for the Miller sisters. Maythorn, who was severely beaten by her very drunk (now deceased) husband because she couldn’t give him sons, had a life that revolved around her daughters. Gyles left them with virtually nothing, but because Maythorn’s beauty was legendary, as was her kindness to the villagers of Dapple Bend, they came together to help the widow to make sure the family won’t go hungry or cold. After some 20 odd years later, Maythorn’s life was about to change irrevocably when she came across a Fey baby in the woods and saves it from drowning. This also indebts the baby’s mother to her; something the Fey simply hate! Bargaining with the Fey is extremely dangerous but Maythorn takes a chance for her daughters, especially Ivy who had a lame leg from the beating she took the same day while trying to save her mother from her father’s wrath, an incident that left Maythorn half blind, with a broken hip and a broken, now crooked, wrist.
TBH Maythorn was grotesquely disfigured in every way, and had to endure physical pain every single day. I couldn’t help but feel for her. So I could see why she’d wanted to bargain for better lives for her daughters, as well as for herself. The Fey mother granted Maythorn’s own wish to become younger and healthier, as she was once upon a time. But her daughters’ wishes will have to wait until their coming birthdays. As a whole, it did pose some problems as to how she was going to keep something so monumental a secret from the village. Also from the leader of Dapple Valley, Lord Warder, who goes by as Dappleward. But most of all, Maythorn was very wary of telling Ren Blacksmith, her longtime crush, that she was Maythorn, Widow Miller, and not Maythorn, a cousin of the Miller sisters, newly arrived to spend some times in Dapple Bend. According to Maythorn, Ren was the kindest man of all of Dapple Vale, but what if he turns his back from her once he learns of her secret? It did take some measures, where they ultimately had to confide to Dappleward, who was very kind, generous, and thoughtful of Maythorn’s plight but together they come up with a plan to make sure this secret remains a secret from the greater world.
Next was Hazel’s birthday, so Hazel gets her wish done before her other two sisters. I don’t know when it was done as we don’t get to see that part, until after she sneaks out of her home with some silly excuses, to go in search of her errant lover. Hazel’s Promise was fairly simple in its storytelling. The fey granted Hazel the wish where she can find anything, or anyone for that matter, through her senses. Which also told her where that a$$hole who stole her heart 10yrs. ago, pledged love and marriage, took her virginity, then disappeared from the sight, now resided. But in her haste, what Hazel didn’t consider was the dangers of traveling alone.
Even though no thug, crook or danger of any human kind can enter the Dapple Vale, that guy was living outside of the valley. And out of Dapple Vale, dangers abounded for a pretty young woman, even if she was dressed as a man. It was on her way she meets young, charming and always cheerful “Tam”, who won’t tell her his surname. Tam who knew who she was, and tagged along to help her find her lover. Tam who also saved her a$$ more than once. Well, they both had to save each-other’s once or twice until they reached their destination. Tam, or Wistan, in truth, was Dappleward’s youngest son. He just returned to the valley after long years of excursion on the human world on urgent request of his father. Obviously Hazel didn’t recognize him, and Tam wanted it that way. Everyone knew of him and his powerful father, which changed people’s demeanor around him once they knew of his identity. Tam decides to hide it to see how Hazel reacts to him.
After meeting Hazel, Tam was sure he could fall for a girl like her. All through the way, both face some adventures that bring them even closer. Tam begins to become attracted to not only Hazel’s beauty, but her loyalty, honesty and her brave, even if stubborn, self. All he needed was to know if that a$$hole, whom Tam knew to be a known womanizer, was actually enamored of Hazel or not. If what Tam knew of the man was true, which he knew it was, then that guy only seduced Hazel for the sake of it and discarded her already. Well, the time-span of 10years certainly confirms it!
Though things don’t turn out well for Hazel, she realizes soon enough that she was a young girl made fool of by a seasoned seducer. But Tam does everything to elevate her mood. Then it becomes apparent that they’d fallen for each-other along the way and Tam now wanted Hazel to become his wife. Personally, I thought their romance was a bit too rushed (as it’s a novella). However it didn’t take away the lovely feeling I had reading their story. 4 stars, now looking forward to Ivy’s story in Ivy’s Choice.