cover image The Nightborn

The Nightborn

Isabel Cooper. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $8.99 mass market (336p) ISBN 978-1-4926-8757-3

The uneven second fantasy romance in Cooper’s Stormbringer series (after The Stormbringer) opens with Sentinel Branwyn, a military envoy from embattled Oakford, seeking aid from the sheltered city-state of Heliodar. There she meets Zelen, the wayward third son of the very aristocrat who denies her request for help. Though Zelen’s family puts him and Branwyn at odds, the pair reluctantly join forces to save the day when demons attack a town festival. A failed assassination attempt on Branwyn soon thereafter leaves the Sentinel half-dead in an alleyway and framed for the murder of her hosts. Zelen aids in her recovery and promises to help clear her name, but in so doing he discovers a horrifying family secret. With Heliodar no longer a safe haven, Branwyn and Zelen must battle both nefarious wizards and their own duplicitous people. While the first in the series highlighted the fantasy over the romance, this installment flips that script, focusing largely on Branwyn and Zelen’s developing relationship and doing little to advance the series arc. The result opens up some unfortunate plot holes, but fans of the first book who are willing to overlook the worldbuilding issues will be pleased to have another couple to root for. [em]Agent: Jessica Watterson, Sandra Dijkstra Literary. (Apr.) [/em]