Tatum “Tate” Belan is the “Keeper of the Piece” (and no, that’s not a spelling mistake), which means she’s the guardian of the mountain Turrenoc. She’s also the keeper of a secret: She’s an animal adept, who can talk to animals. When her previous lover found out what Tate is, she left her, and Tate has lived a reclusive life ever since.
Dr. Lorrah Gilden is an adept too, but she’s a plant adept. Her skills include feeling the healing potential of plants. She works for Estros, a large and powerful research company. One day in late fall, she shows up on Tate’s doorstep and wants Tate’s help in finding the Missourose, a half-mythical plant with incredible healing powers. Lorrah’s ancestor had found the plant, but a few pages of his diary, describing where to find the plant, are missing.
Reluctantly, Tate agrees to help her, and they start their trek up the mountain. Since winter is approaching, it becomes a race against time.
“Keeper of the Piece” is a quick read (200 pages or less), and it focuses as much or more on the romance than on the fantasy aspect. As a romance, it works even though it’s a short novel, because the two main characters meet at the very beginning of the book and stay together throughout, so they are in constant interaction.
There are a few issues that are just mentioned, but not fully explored (Tate’s past as a warrior or the danger that might lurk inside of Estros, Lorrah’s company). Maybe those issues will be further explored in the later books of the series, but they didn’t seem necessary for this book.
The book had a few editing issues (overuse of adverbs, an unclean POV, and a few spelling mistakes, e.g., naval vs. navel). On the plus side, the book also had a few nice concepts (I loved the idea of Tate hibernating in winter), and I couldn’t help but like Teeko, Tate’s cute squirrel.
So all in all, it’s a short but good read. If you like fantasy with a heavy dose of romance, I recommend it.