by S.K. Munt
|GORDIAN KNOT: The Gordian Knot is a legend of Phrygian Gordium associated with Alexander the Great. It is often used as a metaphor for an intractable problem (disentangling an “impossible” knot) solved easily by cheating or “thinking outside the box” (“cutting the Gordian knot”). – Wikipedia|
Welcome to Thunderdome. Two men enter, one man leaves.
The long-suffering Lincoln Grey is back to being a second-class citizen again. After Tristan’s untimely death, Lincoln stepped up and became the fiancé of Ivyanne Court. Things were finally starting to work out and it looked like he would marry the love of his life when the unthinkable happened. Tristan Loveridge came back from the presumed dead on the night of the engagement party. Link could already see things starting to slip as one more round of plaudits were added to the Loveridge legend. Things went from bad to worse when Ardhi killed Ivyanne’s parents forcing the mantle of leadership upon her about a hundred years too soon and then hit rock bottom when Ivyanne broke the engagement in order to prevent Lincoln from becoming a target for the mad mystic merman, Ardhi. Tristan Loveridge is now back in the running and nothing is guaranteed for either suitor.
Heads or Tails opens in the aftermath of her parents’ murder and Ivyanne is struggling to find at least some semblance of safety. She is the only heir to the throne and if she should fall victim to Ardhi’s madness then all continuity will be lost and the fragile kingdom will be in serious trouble. Ivyanne closes up her parent’s home on Bracken Island and relocates to a more defensible house on the mainland. Garridan, her head of security, has suggested a guard be formed for her protection and suddenly, the two rivals for her hand find themselves sharing the same roof with a queen who is struggling to come to terms with the responsibilities that have suddenly been thrust upon her.
Tristan is the same old Tristan or so it would seem. He’s in Sydney trying to repair the damage to his company caused by his absence and presumed demise when he is called to spend a couple of days in Ivyanne’s new home. In The Marked Ones and, to some degree, Three Rings, Tristan Loveridge has appeared to be the sort of devil-may-care kind of guy who would simply move on to other conquests if he was unable to claim Ivyanne’s hand. In Heads or Tails, S.K. Munt has painted him with more vulnerability and the reader can easily see that he will be hurt if he does not persevere.
Tristan was in love with her. Really and actually in love with her. Lincoln had doubted before but he didn’t now. The guy was on the level, and as vulnerable as Lincoln himself.
Meanwhile, back at The Seaview, Lincoln is trying to keep the resort afloat and adjust to not only being Mer but being a demoted Mer at that. The verbal sparring between he and Tristan will resume and Lincoln will have to keep up. Tristan will continue to hold over his head the fact that Lincoln is alive only because he saved him from drowning in The Marked Ones and took a knife wound for his troubles. To be sure, Lincoln will get his digs in and even gain some ground with Ivyanne, but he will continue to be wrong-footed by Tristan.
Tristan grimaced, feeling a trace of guilt. When it came down to it-Lincoln really was a hard luck case. He’d finally gotten a ring on the finger of the girl of his dreams only to have her take it off the night of the celebration. The fact that Tristan had kissed her in that damn closet during the party made him feel like a heel.
The cast of characters in Heads or Tails is augmented by the Ms Munt’s promotion of Grace Londeree from her cameo role in Three Rings to a full supporting role in this story. Grace is the niece of Tristan Loveridge and, in many ways, an 18-year-old feminine version of him. Both are achingly beautiful and both won’t stop until they get what they want. For Grace, her want is Lincoln Grey and the fact that she is more mature than a number of the characters in this drama makes her quest all the more interesting. Will she ultimately succeed and will Lincoln ultimately succumb or is Grace simply a teen-aged flirt enthralled by the hottest man on the planet?
Through her extraordinary gifts for story-telling and writing compelling dialogue, S.K. Munt has created the perfect Gordian Knot with the third book in her Fairytail Saga, Heads or Tails. Solving this twisting tail of love, desire and royalty will definitely require that one think outside the box; way outside the box. While some may argue that this is simply the same old romantic triangle with scales, it is so much more and though the question of whom Ivyanne chooses will finally be solved, Ms. Munt seems to have laid the ground work for a fourth book in the series. This is in addition to the YA prequel that she is already at work upon.
To be sure, S.K. Munt keeps the pot bubbling in Heads or Tails and the reader is kept off-balance and one step behind in divining the final outcome. When one factors in the uncertainty of how, when and where Ardhi will choose to strike along with the heartbreak that is certain to befall at least one of the suitors, you have a dark and suspenseful novel that is difficult to put down. If this is the first that you have heard of The Fairytail Saga, by all means, go and read The Marked Ones and Three Rings first. The reader will know firsthand the kind of story that S.K. Munt is capable of spinning. If, however, the reader is familiar the first two books, this reviewer strongly suggests that one find a comfy chair or sofa, a bit of something to eat, a few tissues and prepare to submerge themselves in this story. While some readers might not like how Heads of Tails ends, the story is so well told that one simply has almost no choice but to like it. Though some readers may find that romantic triangles are overdone, sometimes it is not so much the story as how the story is told.
There is a bright spot in all of this. Those readers who have followed the entire series will remember Remi, the red-headed barmaid at The Seaview resort. Remi is a mermaid married to a human man for the past 10 years. Mixed marriages usually don’t go beyond a decade and a half because the human partner will inevitably notice that their spouse has appeared to age little, if at all, and in order to protect the secret the spouse will have to disappear . . . no matter how much they may love their human. The only way that the human may enter the Mer world is to be “Turned” by another Mer. Except for the occasional individual who is gifted with the ability to “Turn” at will, this act is fatal to the Mer. Ardhi is the only one currently known to have this ability and he has gone mental.
There’s tension in Remi’s marriage as she doesn’t want children due to having to leave so soon. Her husband, Michael, knows nothing of what his wife is really facing and has begun drinking more than is good for him. It’s a busy evening at The Seaview and Michael has had too much and wandered off. Lincoln goes in search of him only to find Michael mostly drowned in the resort’s pool. Lincoln revives him but Michael’s life won’t ever be the same. Lincoln has discovered that he can turn humans and live to tell the tail. Remi has her marriage back and Lincoln’s a hero. Will his new-found gift help him in his quest to become Ivyanne’s husband? This reviewer is honour-bound to not spill the beans.
For those who crave at least one little nugget as to how Heads or Tails ends, this reviewer will allow one minor revelation. One of Ivyanne’s first acts as queen is to offer a Knighthood to the person who can take Ardhi down. There is no “winner-take-all” in this story. For he who obtains this rare honour, this reviewer would like to pass on the following bit of advice from a another Knight:
No, you can’t always get what you want
No, you can’t always get what you want
No, you can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes, you just might find
You get what you need – Sir Mick Jagger
In the interest of full disclosure, an ARC was provided by the author in exchange for a full and honest review. (Which she would have received anyway!)
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