Beguilement - Lois McMaster Bujold Seems like these days I'm on a roll with fantasy-romances. Or would it be more accurate to call this a romance-fantasy? Unlike other romance novels I've read that feature a heavy dose of fantasy, Beguilement is more like the other way around -- romance in my fantasy rather than fantasy in my romance, so to speak.

I think that in itself might alienate a lot of readers. The book begins with Fawn Bluefield running away from home only to be kidnapped by a "malice", an inhuman magical creature that eats people and causes a blight on anything that lives. Dag is a Lakewalker, a soldier-sorcerer who makes it his life's work to hunt these malices and keep the land safe. The first half of the book involves a lot of world building, lore, and action. Our two protagonists end up coming together, and their fates become entwined.

But those looking for a traditional romance story will not find it here because it just doesn't read like one. Not that the romance here isn't fiery and passionate, because it is...but at the same time it's also more comfortable and domestic, if you know what I mean. Likewise, fantasy readers might be drawn in by the first half of the novel and then be disappointed when the second half switches tack to focus more on the love between Dag and Fawn. After the two of them get together, the action pretty much takes a break. Instead of delving more into the war against the malices, the author develops our main characters' relationship and blossoming romance.

Still, I just loved this book. It's definitely not recommended for folks looking for a fast-paced, action-filled read, but nevertheless I found this book engaging and I couldn't stop once I started. Lois McMaster Bujold has a way of making a world come alive and she writes fantastic characters that I am drawn to right away (by the way, her book Curse of Chalion still remains one of my all time favorite fantasy novels).

What I loved most about this book is Dag. I liked his character and how the author made him a sweet, caring and protective male lead without turning him into an overbearing, possessive and loutish asshole. His light humor, easygoing nature, and the gentle way he treats Fawn especially in the early chapters really endeared him to me. It fits his character perfectly, and while it probably has a lot to do with him being much older than her, his personality still sets him apart from a lot of the heroes you find in romance novels these days, and gets major points from me.

What also gets major points from me is how their romance unfolds. Both Fawn and Dag are straightforward with their feelings, and there's none of that cliched he-says-she-says BS and those convenient misunderstandings that oftentimes make romance novels so infuriating and tedious for me to read. Here are two characters that know what they want, and I can't tell you how refreshing that is.

All in all, I thought Beguilement was a light, sweet read, which really surprised me since reading the synopsis initially gave me the impression that it was going to be a little dark and heavy. I also want to mention that I half read the ebook and half listened to this in audio format, and I thought the latter's narrator did a really good job and that her voice was perfect for the story.