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In this paper, we develop a Reliable Energy Adept Link-layer (REAL) protocol for power-constrained networks to provide reliable data transmissions among battery-operated wireless nodes. REAL dynamically performs error recovery with respect to the overall distortions in the system and the available energy at wireless nodes. REAL employs rate-adaptive low density parity check (LDPC) codes for error recovery. We develop a theoretical model to estimate the distortion imposed by wireless channels and to compute the likelihood of successful decoding at the link-layer. Next, we present a recovery model using Markovian decision process to formulate the optimal decoding policy as a linear optimization problem. We design and implement the REAL protocol which provides system reliability with efficient energy utilization. We demonstrate experimentally that REAL achieves 5%-40% throughput and 3%-18% energy consumption improvements over channel traces with varying bit error rates (BERs) collected on 802.15.4 environment. Further, REAL shows 5-15db PSNR better video quality over various realtime video scenarios.