Stone Kissed by Keri Stevens
Once again, I have to thank Carina Press and netGalley for my copy of Stone Kissed, Keri Stevens‘ debut novel. I can’t say often enough how appreciative I am for this (though receiving a free galley in no way affects what I write about the book).
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…
Stone Kissed is a little bit more whimsical than the other stuff I’ve been reading lately, which was a nice, if unexpected, change of pace. Delia is a very soft-hearted, gentle protagonist — not what I’m used to with all the urban fantasy I read! She’s very sweet and rather unassuming in many ways, the kind of person everyone in town would like but wouldn’t necessarily be too close to, since she’s also very guarded, but who wouldn’t be with magical powers? Especially an odd power like Delia’s. In contrast, Grant also has his own magical woo-woo going on but he seems much more in control of it, and of himself and his environs. He’s your typical powerful businessman with an overprotective streak, particularly for his sister, who was a lot of fun. His powers get brought up partway through the novel and they’re brought up in a very nonchalant way, as though his own preternatural abilities were just par for the course. This brought on a moment of dissonance for me — after all, if Grant has this supernatural powers, why can’t Delia have them? Why is she automatically considered delusional, when Grant has abilities as well? While some skepticism would be reasonable, Grant’s unwillingness to believe Delia seemed a little bit too much to me. But this could just be me, and my willingness to accept superhuman abilities in the books I read.
The villain of Stone Kissed felt a little contrived as well. Well, maybe “contrived” isn’t the best word for it. I guess Cecily just came off as a bit one-dimensional, all driven for power, to the exclusion of everything else. I felt like Keri Stevens was taking the easy way out, making Cecily a succubus who needed to steal the life forces of others to maintain her youth and beauty. Other attempts, like Richelle Mead’s Georgina Kincaid books, or the TV show Lost Girl, have succubi as lead characters but Georgina and Bo are much more multi-faceted. All the best characters are, whether they’re good or evil, and I think this is where Stone Kissed lost me a little bit. I love it when the bad guy has a lot of personality and history because it makes him or her more real to me. In the end it’s a small quibble since Stone Kissed is, first and foremost, about the romance, which is nicely written, making it a light and entertaining way to pass an afternoon.