EARTH BOUND - Christine Feehan
Sea Haven/Sisters of the Heart , Book 4
Sea Haven - Present Day
Abducted at eight years old by a radical cult and forced into “marriage” to one of the sadistic lieutenants, Lexi Thompson eventually escaped but still hasn't put the nightmare behind her. She now has a good life, working the farm she shares with her sisters of the heart, even if occasionally she is paralyzed by panic attacks and lives with a healthy dose of paranoia. The men that her sisters are married to have been teaching her self-defense, and when her “husband” shows up unexpectedly at the farm, she's able to use those moves as well as her connection to the earth to trap him, but his friends are still coming for her. Between one blink and the next, though, the men are dead, and a stranger leads her away from danger.
Gavriil Prakenskii only intended to warn his youngest brother of the assassins stalking him before leading them away from his brothers, but then he sees Lexi. He knows without a doubt that she is the one woman meant for him. Gavriil and his brothers were separated after their parents' deaths, raised in harsh schools in Russia, and trained to be government operatives. A lifetime spent as the grim reaper has led Gavriil to the point where he's willing to sacrifice himself for his brothers, but seeing Lexi changes everything. He'd never thought there would be a life for him outside of the shadows; now he just has to convince Lexi there can be a life for her beyond her past.
The youngest of the group of women who've chosen each other as sisters is often seen as the most fragile, and Lexi wouldn't argue with them most of the time. In EARTH BOUND, she and the others will learn she's not quite as fragile as they think, as she quickly becomes Gavriil's champion. Gavriil's own brothers are leery of him, aware of just how lethal he is, yet Lexi sees beyond that to the hurting man beneath. Both characters have suffered through some of the worst things that can happen to a person, including the loss of their families, and on the surface they seem to have dealt with it in different ways. Gavriil has immersed himself in his shadowy world, while Lexi has settled into her farm and her family. After what was done to her as a child, she has no desire to get involved with a man, but in Gavriil she sees somebody who needs her. The bulk of this novel is about the evolving relationship between Lexi and Gavriil, as well as the relationships between Gavriil and the brothers he hasn't seen in years, and the women they have chosen. There is still an element of danger, but it really takes a backseat to the relationships.
Because the book is set completely on the farm, fans of the series will get a chance to catch up with the characters from the previous books: Rikki and Levi from WATER BOUND, Judith and Thomas from SPIRIT BOUND, and Max and Airiana from AIR BOUND, as well as Ilya from TURBULENT SEA. We also get to see how the children that Max and Airiana rescued and are adopting are doing, especially Lucia who is struggling to adjust to life without her parents. Lissa is also featured a little more prominently in this book, and will possibly be the next book in the series. The Sisters of the Heart series is connected to the Sea Haven series, and while reading them in order would be helpful as far as understanding the dynamics of the Drake and Prakenskii families as well as the sisters, each of the books stands well on its own. Gavriil and Lexi's story is intense and emotional, and EARTH BOUND is a book I highly recommend.