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No Neutral Ground by Kally Jo Surbeck
Book 1: Such As These Trilogy
New Concepts Publishing
Genre: Fantasy Romance
ISBN: 1-58608-984-6
Reviewer: Maura

Isobel Smythe Littlejohn is the Command Master of the Edderis forces Ė a warrior sworn to defend her kingdom, especially against her father who has become the new chief priest of the Panopian Order.  Belle was been in the hatred of the Order, and is disgusted in their misdeeds and their beliefs.  Now they have called for an Inquisition of Heresy, an act that threatens any who are against the Order.

Lord Alexander Nicholas Canne has spent the last eight years of his life in servitude to king Rulon VII, in order to be able to claim his ancestral homelands and title.  After beginning to restore and update his holdings, Xander decides to visit his new neighbors, the Nydians.  When he meets Belle, his preconceptions are challenged and the attraction is instant.

In lands torn apart by war and persecution as well as the depraved actions of a degenerate few, can Belle and Xander find a way to be together?

It actually took me several tries to really get into No Neutral Ground and that was partly because my own expectations of the book were incorrect.  I began reading this story thinking it was a romance with some fantasy.  Not at all.  No Neutral Ground is a highly detailed fantasy with an elaborate world of religious and cultural conflict with a romance that blossoms despite it all.  Itís probably one of the most complex worlds Iíve seen recently and that really kept me in the story.

I loved the fact that Xander and Belle were both equally strong and heroic. The true love between equals made me smile at the end.  This book is not terribly spicy but the emotions of the characters permeates their encounters.

Give No Neutral Ground a chance, let yourself absorb the world and customs and donít put it down too easily. You wonít be disappointed.


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