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*Novel generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley
For more information please visit Keri Steven's website.
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...
Stone Kissed, the debut novel by author Keri Stevens, is a masterful beginning to what I am sure is going to be a wonderful writing career. This story was richly developed with an original, unique plot that kept me reading late into the night. With a solid writing style and a fun premise this is definitely a novel that I would recommend to anyone who appreciates a beautiful statue or a simmering romance.
What really captured me when I started reading this novel was the wonderful fluidity of the writing. The voices that Stevens gave the characters was realistic and organic helping to develop the characters and to bring her whimsical world to life. The mystery that she creates surrounding the Steward House and it's fabled history as being the home of the Steward witches is somehow quaint and intriguing at the same time. As is the energy that seems to radiate from beneath its stone foundation. But, for me the most endearing quality that Stevens conveyed was the way she brought creatures and beings of stone to life. Starting off inanimate and offering up advice, these statues were endearing and their voices had a somewhat timeless quality, but quickly they evolved into ambulatory sentient beings. This was both incredible and yet believable in the context of the novel. It seemed only natural that they should evolve in this manner no matter how absurd it should sound.
The atmosphere created were also wonderfully done with the statues fitting in wonderfully with the settings involved. For instance, the hospital that had a sense of hope and grief was perfectly matched with the statue of St. Francis. His tone was one of comfort and friendship. Bert, the stone hare, was childlike and sweet adding a homey quality to the already warm and inviting Steward House. And who can forget the plurant? While this statue tends to remain immobile until there is great need, she brings with her a sense of quite protection and respectfulness standing vigil next to the gates of Delia's family mausoleum. This adds a since of quiet to the cemetery that looms despite the rest of the statuary that comes to life under her watch. Through this parallel nature the atmospheres became tangible and reflected in the inhabitants of the locale, thus creating a setting that simple descriptions alone could not accomplish.
The characters were wonderfully developed as well and had me rooting for them from the start. I instantly liked Delia, a somewhat reserved and shy woman who is fiercely loyal and charming. The fact that she talks to statues is endearing, despite the fact that they actually do talk back. The stone figures are more her family then the flesh and blood world around her until she meets Grant Wolverton, a man she has been infatuated with since her youth. Grant himself is charming as well, yet he is a complete opposite to Delia. He is aggressive, determined and a scrapper in the truest since of the word acquiring his wealth and power through hard work and determination. Yet, like Delia he's got a bit of a power in his blood as well. He is able to sense treasures, valuable relics in the most improbable of places. When Steward House and Delia holds the same allure for him, he does everything in his power to acquire them both. Thus, the romance between Delia and Grant is nicely organic, with the natural ups and downs that come with any relationship. This was an appealing aspect to them for me. I hate it when things are all sunshine and roses. Delia's self worth issues play a large part in this and Grant has his work cut out from him in assuaging these fears. It makes the relationship simmer between them and I was completely engrossed in the drama and suspense these tense moments added to their story.
In fact, the overall evolution of the characters (both stone and flesh) was wonderfully accomplished. The statures become more human and self aware while the human characters become, well, more human. Their personalities become more vibrant as does their emotions. Everything about this is completely organic and continues the fluidity that is evident within the writing style. The contradictions in the magic surrounding the characters also becomes more evident. For example, the power generated by Delia is a life force that builds unlike her cousin Ceciley, a succubus, who burns through life force and is constantly in need of devouring more.
Stone Kissed is definitely a wonderful first novel filled with whimsy and magic. The story and characters are tautly written and enchanting and I will definitely be keeping my eye on this author!
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars
Advisory: Some Sexual Content