Mara Sheppard, human, sets out to ensnare Dashael Rhyder, Maddoc fae, in exchange for the freedom of her brother, Giddeon. She traps him in order to fulfill the task set for her by her mistress, the queen Nalia, but she is initially unaware that the queen also wants Dashael to steal the Rhyann rune and Nalia expects Mara to supervise the heist. Mara reluctantly accompanies Dashael on his mission, dubiously assisted by the sprite Piper and conflicted by her attraction to the charismatic thief. The trio travel to Mer’daca, the land that probably serves as the location for the coveted rune but which is also populated by a variety of people who seem to be out for Dash’s blood, if not his actual demise. The quest is complicated by Nalia’s husband, Finian, who bears a serious grudge against Dash, both for allegedly stealing the rune from his family vault and for being the object of his wife’s lust. Multiple characters are consulted during the quest but the consensus supports Dash enlisting his estranged brother, Jerrick, a potentially deadly task in itself. The body count rises as Mara and Dash continue their mission and she begins to regret placing the collar on Dash that blocks his use of magic. She herself is indentured to the queen but hopes that obtaining the Rhyann rune will earn her brother’s freedom although she becomes severely conflicted about compelling Dash to steal the rune and return to be the queen’s plaything.
Lover Enslaved by Jodi Redford is an enjoyable tale that melds elements of a spicy romance between star-crossed lovers with the machinations employed by acquisition engineers (thieves) combined with a sprinkling of magic and irreverent non-human assistance. Several of the secondary characters seem worthy of their own stories and the rune itself is almost certain to engender even more tales as it performs its duties.