BRIDE OF THE DRAGON KING

A bleak and haunting multigenre tale.

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In this paranormal novel, a woman discovers she has mysterious ties to a handsome but bewildering stranger.

It was Elisabeth’s idea to backpack in Ireland with her fiance, Josh. But the trip and her engagement end prematurely when she finds definitive proof that Josh has been unfaithful. She goes off on her own and takes a tumble in the woods only to have an apparent dream of a dragon abducting her. This is especially troubling, as she’s had a lifelong recurring dream of a dragon proclaiming she is his and the two living together in immortality. Elisabeth awakens in the village of Oakshire, where a “healer,” Constantine, is tending to her injury from the fall. He’s certainly attractive, but Elisabeth keeps her distance, as she’s fresh out of the turbulent relationship with Josh. But Constantine seduces her: He may have genuine feelings for her, having lost the woman he loved to murder. Elisabeth, meanwhile, just wants to get home to Philadelphia, but with a flooded road and no cell service, it doesn’t appear she’s going anywhere soon. Although fate may have connected her dreams with Constantine’s past, he has a shocking plan for Elisabeth. While surprises await Elisabeth, Drighton provides enough clues that readers will predict most of them. But this is the striking story’s essence: a relentless dread, with unpleasantness seeming inevitable. As in her preceding novel, The Ghosts of Winworth Manor (2019), the author writes erotic scenes tinged with a sense of uneasiness. Although her straightforward prose gives explicit erotica a romantic overtone, readers will be aware of something dark in certain characters’ motivations. Even dubious individuals get the spotlight (and perhaps sympathy) in the ominous narrative’s episodes, from the backstory of Constantine’s lost love to Josh’s post-breakup encounter that ultimately links to the main plot. Despite the memorable ending implying a possible sequel, this engrossing novel works as a stand-alone.

A bleak and haunting multigenre tale.

Pub Date: May 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68470-207-7

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

LAYLA

A unique story of transcendent love.

An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

THE BOOK OF LOVE

This book has many enchantments and moving moments, but it would have been better, and more magical, if it were shorter.

A master of short fantasy offers her long-anticipated first novel.

Link has a genius for combining the mundane with the uncanny, diving into the dark currents where dreams grow and bringing up magic-encrusted jetsam, pearlescent ideas that coil and shock. The story takes place in a coastal New England town with the beautifully ambiguous, typically Link name of Lovesend. (Love’s end? Love send?) There, four teenagers—sisters Susannah and Laura, their bandmate Daniel, and Susannah’s friend Mo—are caught up in a struggle with deities who control access to death. As the book opens, Laura, Daniel, and Mo have been dead for months; in her grief, Susannah smashes her sister’s guitar. Soon, the teens, along with a mysterious companion, return from the dead, reanimated by their high school music teacher, Mr. Anabin. Another supernatural person, Bogomil, appears, taking various human and animal forms (a wolf, a rabbit). He writes a message on the music classroom blackboard with his fingernail: “2 RETURN 2 REMAIN.” Mr. Anabin gives the revenants a series of tasks, which they believe will allow two of them to stay alive while the other two, they presume, will die again. As they perform the tasks, readers get to know their families and personal struggles: Laura and Susannah’s father left the family when they were little, and the two contend with sibling rivalry and family roles (Laura’s the good girl, Susannah’s the rebel); Daniel, who has a compulsion to be liked, is a loving, caretaking big brother to a gaggle of mixed-race siblings; Mo, a gay orphan and one of the few Black kids in town, has lost his beloved grandmother while he was dead. Meanwhile, increasingly dramatic magical events transform their hometown—the weather goes hot and cold, carousel horses turn into wolves, the goddess of the moon erects a temple in the middle of the bay—as the characters rush endlessly back and forth, arriving at last at an almost mechanically tidy ending. Although all the fabulous Link elements are here, at more than 600 pages, the story is unwieldy and overexplained.

This book has many enchantments and moving moments, but it would have been better, and more magical, if it were shorter.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9780812996586

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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