My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts...
Ivy’s Choice is the third installment of the magical new historical romance series by author Emily Larkin. This short “prologue” to the Baleful Godmothers series, and book 3 of The Fey Quartet, had quite a different storyline. Had to be my favorite one so far! :)
The Fey Quartet portrays the backdrop telling the tales of the ancestors of the heroines of The Baleful Godmother series, the first scheduled to be published in November 2016. Even though it’s not necessary, after reading first 3 prologues, I highly recommend that you start with them 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 Fey Quartet 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.
TBH Maythorn was grotesquely disfigured 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 confiding in, Ren Blacksmith, her longtime crush, about the truth. 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. Together they come up with a plan to make sure this secret remains a secret from the outside world.
Next was Hazel’s birthday, so Hazel gets her wish done before her other two sisters, in Hazel’s Promise. 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 to go in search of her errant lover. Hazel’s was able to find anyone, or anything for that matter, with her senses. On her way she meets Tam Dappleward, who is also the youngest son of Lord Warder and together they have a grand adventure, until they realize they’d fallen in love with each-other. After Hazel returned, she’d gotten engaged to Tam.
Larkspur had her birthday next, had her wish. Unfortunately it went awry. The whole story is not yet told, however we know that she can read people’s thoughts. And it is driving her nuts! People’s thoughts, emotions.......... I can’t even imagine those coming onto me in waves after waves without any way to control or cope with it! No wonder Larkspur begin to have severe headache and was falling ill. Maythorn wasn’t around at that moment so Ivy and Hazel decide to keep Larkspur away from human world, in the forest, where she resided in an abandoned cottage. There was only one option left; Ivy would have to use her own wish to save her sister. The sisters would visit Larkspur regularly with food.
It was on one of those visits that they find a young roebuck on the property of that cottage; extremely tired and ill. Utterly confused and terrified. Had Larkspur not had her gift they would’ve never even imagined that this roebuck is no ordinary roebuck. A man had been cursed into becoming it! When Larkspur tells them it’s in actuality a man, Ivy feels a sudden tenderness towards it. The sisters would’ve taken care of it even if there wasn’t a man inside, but, knowing the fact only doubled their worries. How can they help this “man” if they have no idea who he was? Larkspur tried with her gift but the man was so confused, couldn’t answer her questions. Would he be stuck inside this animal body forever?
Ivy didn’t want to wander. She wanted to help him. With that in mind, she takes the roebuck to their own cottage, requesting Hazel to journey to the Lord Warder’s home in another village called Dapple Meadow and ask for his help. They were certain it was Fey magic so the Lord Warder would have to be informed anyway.
At night though, everything comes full circle when the man, in severe agony, finally begins shifting his form. Ivy brought the roebuck inside and made it as comfy as possible so she witnesses everything... in wonderment when she finally recognizes the manly form now lies in front of her hearth! Hugh Dappleward!! Lord Warder’s eldest son, who would one day become Lord Warder himself!!! What the hell was happening?? Somehow, one thing leads to another and it takes a different turn right after that when Ivy goes to comfort Hugh from the severe pain he had to endure from that transformation. Some of you will think it was forced but I didn’t think so. I understood that being in the animal body on and off, Hugh had a tough time controlling his urges as his body’s functions matched with that of the animal itself. Ivy agrees to it, surprising me. But it shouldn’t have. The fact was, Ivy had seen Hugh from afar a few times, especially when he visited for Tam and Hazel’s engagement. She already harbored a tendre for him. But because of her crippled leg, she knew her wishes would never come true. And now that she’s to use her Fey wish to make Larkspur better again, she’d have to resign to stay lame for the rest of her life, probably as a spinster. This was her only chance of knowing what it was like between a man and woman, especially with a man she craved but had no hope of having.
But that doesn’t mean Hugh isn’t disgusted with himself for the whole thing after the rush to mate has passed. It does create a bit of problem between them. But in the 2 days they remain together, Hugh doesn’t remain a man for long. He’d become one at night, then transform back into the roebuck the daylight. And every time he’d to go thru excruciating pain. Ivy tries her best to help and comfort him throughout, waiting for Hazel to bring help. Yet Hugh couldn’t imagine who would be so cruel as to do this to him. When Ivy begins asking him questions on one of his more lucid moments, Hugh remembers who he was with the last time he can remember as a human................and that he drank something given by this person.
Ivy was aghast but they needed to formulate a plan to reveal this person’s true intent using Larkspur’s gift. She was their only hope. And it would have to be before Ivy’s coming birthday. Can they make it? In the interim, Hugh begins to find it difficult to stay immune to Ivy, not only for her kindness towards him but also because he found her calm, yet logical mind exhilarating. He found her to be someone who could be the wife of a future Lord Warder. Who’d also enliven his home and brighten up his day. But tell that to Ivy, who was adamant a cripple can’t make a suitable wife of the future Lord Warder. She was also sad that Hugh maybe feeling a sense of duty because of what had transpired between them.
When all was said and done, Larkspur had to help them out one last time by confirming their heart’s wishes to both Hugh and Ivy. Her one last act of benevolence before the Fey took away her wish. Ivy had already asked for it. Otherwise, that gift probably would’ve killed Larkspur sooner or later with its severity. In the end Ivy remains as she was but her sacrifice made everyone happy. Oh Ivy was happy too because she now had her man; someone who not only loved her but vowed to be with her for the rest of their lives. And he didn’t give a damn that she was a cripple.
I’ll now hop into Larkspur’s Quest to find out what happens to her without any wish left to use. 4.25 stars.
Complimentary copy received from the author in exchange of an honest review. Thanks Ms. Larkin!