In the foothills of the unexciting Jordana, Elizabeth is not your average farm cook. She doesn’t flirt, and she doesn’t blush at the grinning glance of a dimwitted farmer. She was born and raised for better things before her parents died. She may have little money but her pride is still intact. So it’s only natural that Elizabeth initially rejected seedy field hand Bennie’s offer for a ride with him to Cedar Hills. She doesn’t want to give him any false ideas but she’d more than almost anything love to better her situation, and Cedar Hills would be just the place. As the newest angel hold, it’s the most accessible and popular place for angel-seekers, women seeking to bear an angel child. Elizabeth’s hoping to do just that; find an angel, bear his angel child, and live amongst the angel-elite forever.
The Jansai woman Rebekah’s aspirations couldn’t be more opposite. She can’t imagine leaving her sheltered life in Breven, with its history of Edori enslavement still fresh and where women do not bare their faces in public and are raised for arranged, “blind” marriages. Even though her life monotonous and boring, she loves her family and wouldn’t dare leave them or shirk her duties. That is until she meets injured angel Obadiah and begins to live a double life. Which life is right for Rebekah and how will she know? Her and Elizabeth’s paths will cross as they both become angel-seekers in very different ways.
I was admittedly hesitant to read this book or any others in the series after Sharon Shinn’s incomparable first Samaria novel, Archangel. Since the novels follow new protagonists with each book, I wasn’t sure if Samaria would be the same without Gabriel and Rachel. And since this is the only book set in their generation, we do get glimpses of both of them here, which I eagerly anticipated. Two years later it seems like they’re more themselves than ever and in a good place. I treasured their appearances. What first excited me about Angel-seeker however was that Rachel’s dear friend Obadiah was one of the main characters. He was there when Rachel needed someone and his flirty, outgoing personality is very infectious. I was thrilled to get to know him better and hopefully see him with his own happy ending. What I didn’t know was how much I’d like Rebekah, who’s impossibly sandwiched between all she’s known and forbidden love. I admired her and how delicately and complexly her conflicted character was handled. I never once thought Rebekah was making the wrong decisions, when it would be easy for anyone accustomed to the more modern freedoms to misunderstand them. Elizabeth grew on me as well and I was always able to sympathize with her angel-seeking. You want so much for these women as well as Obadiah, who’s endearing in his own search for happiness.
Again, Sharon Shinn knows how to write. She had me from the first page, her chapters and story flow so easily. I’m very capable of falling asleep late at night during very engaging books but Angel-seeker completely absorbed me. It was exciting and suspenseful and I had to go on to see how these characters would fare. Fans of romantic fantasy should eat this up. To me it seemed even more romantic than Archangel yet still having an underlying political plot and I loved it all. Samaria’s a place I need to visit and revisit. Overall topnotch world-building and great character development. Sharon Shinn is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors and I look forward to all her Samaria books yet unread.
Suggested Reading Order
Archangel (Samaria #1) – my review
Angel-seeker (Samaria #5)
Jovah’s Angel (Samaria #2)
Alleluia Files (Samaria #3)
Angelica (Samaria #4)