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Stone Kissed by Keri Stevens

December 22, 2010

December 27, 2010

Publishers: Carina Press

Publication Date: December 27, 2010

Format: ARC for Kindle

Status: As far as I know, this is a stand-alone, but it definitely has characters that have sequel potential.

Source: NetGalley

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Witches

Location: Stewardsville, VA and Washington, DC

Other Info: This is Keri Stevens’ debut. Her blog is here.

Book Description (from Goodreads):

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 requested this book and then wasn’t sure I was going to read it because of the lack of success I had with the other Carina Press book, Like Clockwork. Then, my computer broke and I was both extremely upset and out of commission (as far as blogging and the internet were concerned). Thus, I picked up my Kindle to search for something to ease my pain. I have a lot of stuff on my Kindle right now and most of it is Teen/YA. Since I was in the mood for an older protagonist, I went for Stone Kissed. It’s a good thing, too, because I was pleasantly surprised by this debut. It was a fun, absorbing read that I swallowed in one big gulp.

Stone Kissed is told in three alternating P.O.V.’s.: Grant, Delia, and Cecilia. I’m not giving anything away by saying that Cecilia is the antagonist in Stone Kissed. I’ll leave you to find out her exact issues, suffice it to say that she’s evil, but not without complexity. The hero and heroine are Delia and Grant, who met many years prior to the story. Although Delia remembers Grant all too well, Grant doesn’t recall Delia at first, though this is a Paranormal Romance, so of course he feels an instant attraction.

Delia and Grant meet for the second time under unhappy circumstances. Delia’s father, from whom she is estranged, is caught in a fire in Delia’s ancestral home. He’s not only badly burned, but he’s unconscious. Delia rushes to her father’s bedside despite the fact that they haven’t gotten along in years. Not since her mother’s death. Delia quickly figures out that not only has her father allowed her house to fall into disrepair, he’s also racking up astronomical hospital bills. Delia is forced to make a choice that wrenches her heart–she must sell her father’s business and the family home that her mother left her after her death. Even worse, she must sell it to Grant Wolverton, which is how the two meet for the second time.

Both Delia and Grant are tortured souls. Grant had a bad childhood with an addict mother and a revolving door of “uncles” who abused him. When he was rescued, it wasn’t by a loving grandfather, but one who intended to mold Grant into an efficient machine. Grant lives only to give his sister the life he wants for her. But as he discovers, it’s not necessarily the life she would choose for herself.

Delia’s childhood, on the other hand, was troubled by her parents’ belief that she was delusional because she could communicate with statues. It made her father furious, and his fury was exacerbated by Delia’s mother’s death. The two became estranged. Delia found it easier to leave her father and Stewardsville than to stay and face his constant criticism. Unfortunately, leaving her father meant leaving the house–which meant leaving it to his neglect.

Delia is one woman in a long line of Steward witches (though her mother was normal as a sunny day in California). Delia’s power manifested itself in her ability to talk to stone statues. The stone statues, in turn became the family that her mother and father never truly offered her. This was a nice touch. I liked that Delia felt so personally about each statue. And that they cared for her in return.

As for the relationship between Delia and Grant, I both liked and disliked it. I’m a fan of love at second meeting stories, especially when the characters knew each other in childhood. That’s not exactly the scenario here, but it’s close. I also felt that Delia and Grant had good chemistry together. What I wasn’t so certain about was the way that Grant sometimes treats Delia. For one thing, after they sleep together, he doesn’t try to get in touch with her for a week, and then it’s only after he learns that Delia’s father has regained consciousness. Later, Grant decides that he’s going to marry Delia despite the fact that he thinks she’s nuts (because she can talk to statues). I’m not a big fan of that plot. You know the one I’m talking about. The one where the hero decides that he loves the heroine so much he’s willing to overlook what he thinks are serious flaws. After the Night by Linda Howard comes to mind. Unless the hero gets his comeuppance and learns his lesson about being high, mighty and judgmental about his heroine’s “flaws”, and he does some serious grovelling, then he probably won’t be redeemed in my eyes.

Stone Kissed was not a perfect novel, but I think it really has promise as a debut. I’d be willing to try a sophomore outing by Keri Stevens. I think she’ll only get better. Though I hope she doesn’t put quite so many love scenes in the next book.

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