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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stone Kissed by Keri Stevens

Stone Kissed by Keri Stevens
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (234 pgs)
Heat Level: hot
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Water Lily

When Delia Forrest talks to statues, they talk back. She is, after all, the last of the Steward witches.

After an arsonist torches her ancestral home with her estranged father still inside, Delia is forced to sell the estate to pay his medical bills. Her childhood crush, Grant Wolverton, makes a handsome offer for Steward House, vowing to return it to its former glory. Delia agrees, as long as he'll allow her to oversee the restoration.

Working so closely with Grant, Delia finds it difficult to hide her unique talent—especially when their growing passion fuels her abilities.

But someone else lusts after both her man and the raw power contained in the Steward land. Soon Delia finds herself fighting not just for Grant's love, but for both their lives...

I had the good fortune to judge the first ten pages of Stone Kissed for a RWA chapter contest a year or so ago. I don’t remember if it won, but it certainly had my vote. So, when it hit the LASR review request list I snapped it up. And I’m glad I did. The realistic characters and interplay between the mundane and magic elements in the plot made the pages nearly turn themselves.

At first glance, Delia, Grant, and Cecily appear to have little in common. Delia is a restoration specialist who quietly speaks to statuary. Grant is a handsome, cold, businessman. Cecily is a soul stealing succubus. But each of these characters is/was rejected by her or his parents, each reacts in a different way, and each must overcome personal obstacles in order to find love.

Though Delia’s family is full of witches, her mother was non-magical. Her parents did everything in their power to make Delia appear normal, alienating her and squashing her soul in the processes. She reacted by hiding. She uses the smallest amount of magic possible in the most normal job she can find that conceals her gift. But loving Grant causes a sudden explosion of magical talent just when it threatens her the most. She wants to hide her magic like a light under a bushel basket, but the basket has become a lighthouse beacon.

Grant has latent magical gifts as well—hunches, really. His mother drowned her questionable abilities in drugs and alcohol leaving Grant to raise his sister. He’s ultra responsible now with a highly developed weirdness meter. He wants his and his sister’s lives normal and safe. Delia’s strangeness and his attraction to her threaten his need for normalcy. Unfortunately, ignoring her eccentricities is becoming increasingly difficult. It’s easy to relate to Grant’s need for control and safety in a world so void of both.

Cecily magic is strong, but the more she feeds it, the more it eats away at her and erodes the already tenuous relationship with her parents. They beg her to control herself, but her definition of control and theirs are worlds apart. She wants what Delia has—Grant, Stewart house, and the ability to create and channel power. She needs to feed, but she lacks control. She’s strength mixed with weakness. Cruelty longing for love. A wonderful villain.

Stone Kissed missed being Best Book by a slim margin. The epilogue threw me. I had to do a name search to find this new point of view character. The book would have been better served without it. Apart from that, this book was everything I hoped it would be. I highly recommend Stone Kissed.