Inherent Gifts is the third and (probably) final book in the Inherent Gifts series. The story follows Wren, a slave with supernatural speed and the ability to manipulate and create fire, and Jere, a psychic healer, medical doctor, and extremely reluctant master. The first book in the series introduced us to the characters; we watched as they met each other, as they grew to be friends, as they fell in love despite the challenges that were placed on them in a world where people are doomed to a life of slavery depending on the psychic gifts they have. From the moment I wrote the first book, I knew there would be more—in fact, I have notes for a possible “Book 3?” in some of my earliest notes about the series! The second book introduced another major character, Isis, a teenage slave girl who the couple more or less rescue and adopt. Isis is a challenge, but once she calms down, she provides a little balance to my somewhat neurotic couple.
This neurotic couple is put to the test in Inherent Cost. While they have faced plenty of challenges already, this is their first chance to really make a mark on the world—and do they ever! With the background of the stories well-established, this left me free to play in the third book. My initial idea for the book was very vague, but I knew I wanted to accomplish three things: 1. Lots more sexy-times for my favorite characters, 2. Explore Isis’s character a little more, and 3. Explore the possibility for freedom. Somehow, this turned into a story that has the characters traveling all over the place to network, plot, and even reconnect with family. The story begins on an anniversary date for Wren and Jere, which is quickly corrupted, because slavery just destroys everything it touches. However, this makes Jere aware of the risks that slaves face when being treated by veterinarians or animal healers. This prompts Jere’s involvement in the “Slavery Reformation Act,” a law being proposed to mandate that human healers treat slaves, as well as mandating better treatment of slaves in public. This is especially important, given the spread of terrifying and incurable diseases around the world. As if this wasn’t enough, Jere and Wren also find personal motivation to become involved in politics when the veterinarian who they come into contact with makes it her mission to make Jere’s life miserable for criticizing her.
As the story unfolds, the political drama becomes personal. Like most real-life politics, there are many elements to the law, some that appeal to slaveholders, some that appeal to those against slavery, and some that don’t appeal to anyone at all. Jere finds himself targeted by a number of different agencies, and Wren has to risk contact with the general public. Most of the characters from the previous books make an appearance here, and some new ones get introduced. I wondered what would happen when Wren and Jere’s relationship was put to the test of a cruel outside world, so I tested! More than any other book in this series, this one reflects the real world: how do we react in the face of disease? Where do politics and public safety intersect? Where do privacy and personal rights fit into the greater good? And of course, the fate of the central romantic relationship rests on some of these answers.