An engaging paranormal romance in which love triumphs over isolation.

STORM ECHO

A Psy and a cat shifter separated by trauma and amnesia reunite and take on an unknown enemy.

The Psy-Changeling series continues with a new pair of lovers whose personal connection might strengthen the links among the human, Psy, and shifter groups just as the Psynet is under attack. In sections that alternate between the recent past and present and between the points of view of the two protagonists and a mysterious villain, we learn about the abruptly ended budding romance of Psy Ivan Mercant and ocelot-shifter Soleil Bijoux Garcia and then see them renew their bond. Ivan has always been self-contained. His in-utero exposure to a drug, followed by a childhood with his troubled single mother, has affected him emotionally as well as cognitively. Though eventually embraced by the powerful Russian Mercant family, despite not having a biological connection to them, he is convinced that the drug’s effects will eventually make him a danger to everyone. A chance meeting with a playful healer briefly gives him hope, but losing her seems part of his inevitable solitary existence. Even when he finds her again, she doesn’t seem to recognize him. Orphaned young when her shifter-human parents died in an accident, French Latinx ocelot Lei is now reeling from the recent massacre of her shifter pack. But her shifter half is drawn to an intense stranger in the midst of a Psy crisis. Once Lei realizes the love they could have, Ivan must contend with her determination that they stay together and his own protective instincts. While an amnesia plot may not be for everyone, the novel deftly balances Ivan’s grief with sweet flashbacks to the couple’s initial dates and then ramps up the electric attraction between them in the present. The author’s signature warm scenes involving new changelings and the changeling families familiar to regular series readers reinforce a tone of communal love and support. While the external threat mounts and Ivan and Lei work with Psy and changeling leaders to combat it, the sexual chemistry between the couple reaches a joyful culmination. Some readers, however, may grumble at how late in the book the scene occurs.

An engaging paranormal romance in which love triumphs over isolation.

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-44067-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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A unique story of transcendent love.

LAYLA

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. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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