By Keri Stevens
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: December 27, 2010
When Delia Forrest talks to statues, they talk back. She is, after all, the last of the Steward witches.
Grant Wolverton is an antiques expert with boatloads of money, a knack for finding treasures and a heart that has room only for his younger sister and his best friend (I hope we see more of these two in a future book). When he hears of the fire at Steward House, he jumps on the chance to make the estate his own, offering Delia a sum of money he knows she can't afford to turn down. But Delia turns the tables on him by insisting she be hired to oversee the renovation of Steward House. If she can't own it she can at least make sure the house is brought back to its glory and her beloved statues are all guaranteed a home. The more time Grant spends with Delia, the more intrigued he is by her, even though he doesn't believe she can really hear the statues and thinks she's a thief (the statues again). Though his feelings gradually deepen, it will take a small miracle to bring these two together in the end, especially when the villain enters the story.
Delia captivated me from the beginning of the book. I was right there with her as she faced her loneliness, her conflicted feelings about her father, her love/hate relationship with Grant, the man who takes from her the only home she's ever known but, at the same time, fills her with a sensual longing she's never experienced before. As I came to know the statues that comprise her "family", I found myself viewing them as thinking, talking beings. They reflect Stevens' quirky sense of humor and, as important secondary characters (I do think of them as characters), bring both comic relief and an added depth of emotion to Delia's story.
It took me awhile to warm up to Grant (though I did warm up quite nicely later in the book) and, for the first half of the story, he left me a bit bewildered by his behavior. There were references to an abusive childhood later in the book but I think it would have flowed more smoothly for me and I would have enjoyed (and understood) the first part of the story better with more explanation of his background/motivation.
The villain of the story, Cecily Johnson, is a succubus and one scary woman. I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to gory stuff and Cecily has a few scenes that are rather graphic in detail. Even though a couple of them made me a bit queasy, I do believe they were necessary to illustrate the lengths to which the woman was willing to go to maintain her perfect looks and immortality. Without going into details, I'll also say that I was very satisfied with Cecily's "perfect" ending.
Overall, this was a good read; one that held my attention, brought me to tears and also had me laughing out loud. The premise is fresh and original and the writing, for the most part, flows smoothly. I love the quirky sense of humor that I've come to know from reading Keri Stevens' tweets and that humor comes through clearly in this story along with an emotional intensity that is heart-wrenching at times and heartwarming at others. This is an enjoyable debut from a promising new author. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!