When one kingdom conquers another, it's customary for the surrendering army to present a gift of some kind to their conquerors. Sometimes it's land, or crops, or gold ... but in "Nia," a new fantasy novel by Mella Reese, the gift is a man. That's right - the conquered kingdom offered up one of their own, a young man named Garreth, who will serve as Princess Nia's personal guard until her life, or his, comes to an end.
It doesn't work out so well. Nia is not a typical princess, and she's not interested in being treated like one. She'd rather ride her horse than wear fancy dresses and sit at tea. She'd rather travel around and administer to the sick and needy in her kingdom than stitch tapestries. The thought of being shadowed every minute of every day annoys her beyond belief, but if she doesn't accept Garreth as her guard, the other kingdom will be offended, and it would be a bad move, politically. She knows she must do her duty to her kingdom, so she grudgingly accepts, and finds herself with the constant presence of a man who will not even meet her in the eye.
As time goes on, she finds another reason to be angry. Garreth is a good man, one of kindness and talent, but he has committed himself to her service forever. He will never marry or have children, and he will never have a life of his own. Nia values human life and the individual's right to choose their own path, and she badly wants to free Garreth from his servitude, but he will not leave her. His honor is stronger than his own personal desires, and he refuses to break his oath.
Things I liked: I like the way the story built as it went along. I liked the romance that I knew was developing between the two main characters. I liked the twists and turns and the suspense of wanting to know what was about to happen.
Things I didn't like: I not like the ending. I felt like the story was building toward a certain culmination and then didn't deliver. I was disappointed in that. I did learn though, that there is a second book that will continue the story. I also noticed quite a few editing errors that were distracting to me, but I blame that on the editor and publisher of the book. They should catch those things before publication.
All in all, it was a very fun story to get lost in.