STORM ECHO

An engaging paranormal romance in which love triumphs over isolation.

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 7, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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

HIDDEN PICTURES

It's almost enough to make a person believe in ghosts.

A disturbing household secret has far-reaching consequences in this dark, unusual ghost story.

Mallory Quinn, fresh out of rehab and recovering from a recent tragedy, has taken a job as a nanny for an affluent couple living in the upscale suburb of Spring Brook, New Jersey, when a series of strange events start to make her (and her employers) question her own sanity. Teddy, the precocious and shy 5-year-old boy she's charged with watching, seems to be haunted by a ghost who channels his body to draw pictures that are far too complex and well formed for such a young child. At first, these drawings are rather typical: rabbits, hot air balloons, trees. But then the illustrations take a dark turn, showcasing the details of a gruesome murder; the inclusion of the drawings, which start out as stick figures and grow increasingly more disturbing and sophisticated, brings the reader right into the story. With the help of an attractive young gardener and a psychic neighbor and using only the drawings as clues, Mallory must solve the mystery of the house's grizzly past before it's too late. Rekulak does a great job with character development: Mallory, who narrates in the first person, has an engaging voice; the Maxwells' slightly overbearing parenting style and passive-aggressive quips feel very familiar; and Teddy is so three-dimensional that he sometimes feels like a real child.

It's almost enough to make a person believe in ghosts.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81934-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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