3.5 stars: Liked it - recommend (B+)
Review originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About
Delia Forrest, a Steward Witch, is the fastest and best stone conservator in the DC area because of her secret: she can talk to sculptures. However, when her father, Vernon Forrest, is caught in a fire at his house and remains in ICU back home in Stewardsville, NC, Delia decides to move back to help him recover.
Antique dealer and art hunter Grant Wolverton has long coveted the Steward House and decides to seize the moment now that his longtime competitor, Vernon, is out of commission. He offers Delia over a million dollars to buy out the home and stock. Left without any options, Delia accepts the offer, but stays around to help restore the House.
Stone Kissed is an enjoyable story with a wonderfully original mythology. Delia’s “gift” of talking with stone sculptures is unique and entertaining. Her mom (who was not a witch) died young and her father was too interested in his work to be bothered with his “odd” daughter. So Delia created a family among the statues and stonework in her life. Going back home after being gone for many years was a bit heartbreaking and provided the story with several emotional and poignant moments. Similarly, making the decision to stay, to nurse her father back to health, to forgive him, gave Delia heart and the book depth.
Delia has been crushing on the handsome and successful Grant Wolverton since she was a teenager (their brief history is recounted in a flashback). Her feelings towards him only grow as she gets to know the real man behind her long-held fantasies. I admire that she doesn’t keep those fantasy close, and she faces reality straight on. The course of her love seems to develop organically from admiration and friendship.
On the other hand, Grant is a demanding control freak! He and his sister, Randi, experienced an abusive childhood, so he does everything to protect his sister and his life. He firmly believes that Delia is a liar and thief, even as he gets to know and befriends her. While I would expect that at first, it really bothered me that at the 77% mark of the book he still believed that although she’s “harmless,” she’s somehow out for herself or to get him. And the lengths he goes in the name of protecting his sister is a little creepy. Yet he cannot stop seeking out Delia or slow his body’s reaction whenever she is near.
With that said, I really enjoyed the pair. I loved how Delia was realistic but still fell in love. I adore that Grant wanted to fit her into his mold, but kept changing the mold to adapt to the woman Delia was. The scenes when the pair are collaborating on the rehabilitation of the home display the couple’s fluidity and cohesive dynamic. Their love-making is passionate and tender. I really fell for the pair despite the rough edges.
Of course, things are not all sunshine and roses for Delia and Grant. Succubus Cecily, a distant Steward Witch from the “wrong side of the tracks,” wants the Steward House for herself. Not only does she feel entitled (and clearly has some Mommy and Daddy issues), she seems to gain power from the land itself. She’ll stop at nothing and no one is safe from her evil plans to make Grant her husband and the land hers. Her cunning actions and eventually erratic and increasingly desperate actions provide some suspense, action and drama to the plot.
I did have a few minor issues with the story. At times I felt like the paragraphs didn't flow well, almost like I missed a sentence or two. It would give me pause, but it didn't distract me enough to disrupt my reading. I also didn't like the way the Cecily conflict concluded, but am happy with the eventual result.
Overall, I was completely engrossed in Stone Kissed. I loved the unique mythology. I loved how the union of Grant and Delia was almost destined to be. Although I was bothered by the fact that Grant treated Delia like a child at times, I love that Grant finally let go of his tightly held views and fell hard.