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15 year old Keno is a genius kid from Japan whose IT smarts landed him a free ride at MIT. Once there, he not only excelled at his studies, but let his curiosity carry him a bit too far. Hacking what he thought was a fantasy RPG game server nearly got him killed. In fact, the way he has been kept prisoner thee past few years and treated by his shadowy extra-governmental captors makes him wish more than once that he had been. At least then he would not have been confined in the compound the night that the lecherous and greedy head researcher managed to actually open a gate to another dimension, letting in creatures that began to kill the IT lab technicians while Dr Heisig raped and killed his way through victims. Victims that included Keno, who was spared death after the intense brutality only by the sudden appearance of a mysterious woman whose companions killed the marauding monsters and who killed Heisig herself, then taking Keno through the portal. Once in the Dreamlands, as it is known, Keno is given to a mysterious man who recognises him as the avatar of his long dead human lover, and who seems intent on making Keno truly his, and not just as the gift that he was from his Lady. But is there a hidden agenda, and just why was the mysterious lady in the lab? Are the beings of the Dreamlands truly monsters, or are the humans who work for the agency, who are determined to get Keno back at all costs?
With settings that alternate between modern day America in an underground secret facility dedicated to "monster hunting" and a section of the Dreamlands that is similar to the Tokugawa shogunate era of Japan, the reader is treated to much more than a run of the mill fantasy romance. Lovers of high fantasy will love the quality world building and intricate plot involving politics, magic and science, while lovers of romance will greatly sympathise with the demon who has longed to find his long lost love, only to find his reincarnation abused and broken to the point of being almost past salvaging. Keno's journey back to becoming a whole person takes up quite a bit of the story with the romance building at a slow but not plodding pace, and the rest of the action centres a great deal around his recovery. Likewise, when the "baddies" show back up, we see that most of them are flawed human beings trying to make the best out of a horrific situation, and once the battle is pitched, it's interesting to see just who stands where. With plenty of fighting action, historical period drama, and tender romance, this is one of the best fantasy romances I have read all year.
This available as both a paperback and a s an electronic edition. I bought the Kindle version of the e-edition, and I found it not only to be quite reasonably priced for the amount of entertainment it gave, but quite well formatted, without any awkward type sizes, sudden inexplicable font changes, or random characters appearing. You can purchase either via Amazon or Dreamspinner Press' own website. Recommended.