"The Relic" is by Utah author Colleen Helme.

"THE RELIC," by Colleen Helme, Mundania Press Inc., $12.95, 209 pages (f)

Callista has survived finding out she has not only the burden of serving as Keeper of the Flame while also taking care of the Relic, a repository for darkness and evil.

She can control and possibly save the fearsome shadowbeasts with the Relic but the potential cost to her soul is daunting.

She has to fight to resist its power and seductive promises.

She also has to battle to keep it safe from those who want the Relic to bring the Demon Lord back to power.

Along the way, Callista is challenged emotionally and physically as she tries to decide who she can trust and love.

She is separated from Justin, the King's son and the love of her life, and she begins to question herself.

She is lonely and afraid and fully aware that her decisions mean life or death for people around her, people who help her and people who depend on her.

Salt Lake City author Colleen Helme claims "The Relic" is the final book in the "Flame of Destiny" series but that would be a shame.

Helme has created living, breathing characters with Callista and Justin, and the story feels real despite there being wizards, magical power and deadly creatures on the loose.

It's easy to get caught up in the story and to care about the outcome.

Helme does a good job of creating a story and a world that pits the forces of good and evil against each other with a believable outcome even if it is a little like stepping into the colorful Munchkinland of "The Wizard of Oz" after the bad guys are defeated.

The romance is simple and the storyline pretty straight forward. There's plenty of action and danger. Keeping the flame going and the Relic under control isn't an easy task even for someone as stubborn and strong as Callista.

It's interesting to see the shadowbeasts become Callista's "friends"?

And is this new, charming wizard a friend or foe? It isn't clear until the very end.

There's also some moral bedrock that serves the hero and heroine well. They sacrifice for others and for one another without question.

Here's a good paperback to pick up on the way to the airport.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@desnews.com