In this debut romantic fantasy, a widow tries to choose between a family man and a globe-trotting teacher, unaware that an ancient predator stalks her.
Painter Tess Morgan lost her husband, Meyer, in a car accident five months ago. She and her 5-year-old daughter, Abby, live in the hauntingly wooded town of Carlisle, in Ontario, Canada. One day, while meeting with Abby’s kindergarten teacher, Tess waits for her friend Thomas, another single parent. Instead, she runs into Carlisle newcomer Bryce Waters, who’s there to meet his niece. Later, in a cafe, Tess experiences a vision of a woman being ravished by a tattooed man with needlelike teeth. The woman, Tess learns, is a local named Sonia MacKinnen who’s been missing for days. That she was recently seen with Bryce doesn’t stop Tess from going to a Halloween party at his lavish estate. She attends dressed as Tuatha Dé Danaan, an Irish fairy, and is smitten when Bryce, a traveling anthropology teacher, can converse about the mythological beings that she paints. Unsurprisingly, when Thomas and Bryce meet at a kindergarten Christmas pageant, they instantly dislike each other. Their competition for Tess sets off an avalanche of revealed secrets that tie the artist to the ancient people of Lemuria—and to the horrifying man from her vision. With a generous wit that readers should savor, Willson presents Tess as a damaged woman desperate to heal. She describes Tess’ childhood with a bipolar mother as “an endless roller coaster of maxed-out credit card highs and Titanic-worthy lows.” The author also spreads her love and knowledge of ancient civilizations on nearly every page. As Thomas and Bryce argue the merits of believing in Atlantis, readers learn that “Troy was myth until 1871, when a German archaeologist discovered it under layers of mountains in Turkey.” The narrative also tackles reincarnation, asking if whether, before humans appeared, souls existed in dinosaurs. In the final third, the point of view changes, somewhat telegraphing where characters might stand in the end. Yet as Willson unfurls more of her world, her series’ immense potential proves irresistible.
A sensual novel about a painter, sparkling with mythological details.