Assassin's Touch (Iron Portal #1) by Laurie London

Assassin's Touch - Laurie London
Neyla never wanted to be a soldier – but when a terrorist attack brought out her latent psychic powers, she was quickly drummed into the army where they could be best used. It’s a miserable life and her fellow soldiers are no happier with her presence than she is with being there.
They’re called to track down an assassin from the Barrowlands and the portal through which he entered - a vital mission as news reports more devastating terrorist attacks slaughter the innocent.
Rickert has come through the portal from his home in the Barrowlands. The world is very different and he’s far from at home there, but he has to stop the Pacificans finding the portal – and launching another of their devastating raids against his homeland.
When the two meet, it becomes far more complex than they imagined.
This world has a fascinating concept – it’s a clearly parallel Earth but with stark differences from our own and only hints with some similar names to suggest the links. The world was split in two in some unnamed but often hinted on event in the past, leaving only portals as a way to get between the two realms – portals which have their own sets of rules.

One side of the world is a lot like ours, with advanced technology. The other hasn’t reached the industrial revolution, but has some intriguing powers of its own that make it very different. And the two worlds are in conflict – but both sides have very different versions of WHY they’re fighting, each presenting the other as the aggressor.
The main character, Neyla, has her own conflicts. Her life has been torn apart by enemy action which has brought her latent psychic power to the fore – she’s a protector, being able to shield people. This ends up with her being practically drafted into the army. She’s a reluctant soldier (she misses the clothes shop she owned) and the soldiers don’t like her much either – but she does have a life saving power and her father is proud of her. It’s complex with duty and misery working together.
Then there’s Rickert from the other side of the conflict and his own bad memories of atrocities inflicted on his people. Bring them together and there’s going to be some conflict there. As well as culture shock.
So we have a great story concept, a great world that has parallels to our own but also a great divide, a character who is at least not too annoying with some nice woo-woo that certainly could be developed. So do I have a but?


Yes I have a but. The “but” is the romance and the speed of said romance.
Not because of the very clichéd insta-love or near insta-love which has become an eternal thing in the genre – though I do find it irritating that these 2 enemies start noticing how very hot and sexy the other is. It was very blatant that the two were going to end up in bed from the very first meeting and didn’t even try to be subtle about it – from necessary nudity to endless appraisals of his sexiness (while being held as a prisoner of war by people she regards as savages, no less!) the romance started early and moved at lightening speeds.