Friday, September 22, 2017

Book Review: 'Evander' by Sarah J. Stone

Colorado author Sarah J. Stone absorbed the beauties of Aspen as a child and those perceptions of nature are evident in her books. After University, as a postgraduate, the non-writing part of her career led her to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she worked to prevent abuses in human rights. But when she writes she re-enters the world of fantasy and escapes with us into the realm of shape shifter tales.

Paranormal shifter romances or stories can either be formulaic, tales whose plot is altered only by the animal or shape to which the characters are shifting. Sarah takes her stories a step further and introduces her background in dealing with human rights abuses to make her novels (at least in this one) more poignant: social philosophy admixes with fantasy in a manner that the story leave much room for after thought musing.

Sarah shares with her readers some interesting background for this book. ‘The truth behind the dragon books is that I thought about it way back in 2011. I had just finished watching the season finale of Game of Thrones where Daenerys rose from the fire with three baby dragons and was completely blown away by how beautiful the creatures were. I was so inspired by that scene that I decided if I ever wrote in the future, I would feature Dragons somehow. Years later in 2016, when I finally mustered up the courage to write something I would publish, I thought back to that scene...and the rest is history!’ Anecdotes like that endear an author to us.

The Stratham Shifters series began with ARIS, then ILIAS, ZARIN and now EVANDER and the first chapter ties in the previous books – ‘It was the utter filth that drove him mad. The cold, dank, and moldy scent carried over into what little clothing he had. Aside from his own filthy skin, it was all he could smell most of the time. He scratched his arm and cringed when flakes of skin fell to the hard ground. He hadn’t been cleaned for weeks. It was his punishment, of course. They knew it made him crazy. And they used it as leverage to gain his cooperation. It wasn’t a hard choice for him. If he refused, the punishments could be worse. The lashings were nothing he hadn’t eventually learned to take. Physical pain was only on the surface. He could handle that. It was the other stuff that took its toll. Every day was the same. There wasn’t much he could do about it. They ruled him, and he wasn’t strong enough to take them all. If he were, Evander would have left long ago. But one day, he’d have his revenge, and it would taste better than anything he’d ever sunk his teeth into. That’s what kept him going. It would have been easy to get them to off him. They were easily riled and often killed without hesitation. It was one reason they were so feared among the dragon kin. Not many would move against them, and the tension showed in the ranks. He’d paid attention, listened in, and took note of everything, just in case he could ever use it to his advantage. The guard stood against the castle wall, glaring at him. Rinse and repeat. That’s what it was like for him. Day after day.’

So we move into this new story – ‘Callie needed a fresh start. But moving to Stratham and opening a bookstore had more surprises than she expected. As she discovers the magical beast within herself, she must overcome her own demons to survive. Evander was sent on a mission far more dangerous than expected. On the brink of death, he finds his mate and a reason to live. Can the two break the links between their past and survive the future?’

Sarah’s way with writing is at once relaxed in style but sensitive to tension that seems to be always around the bend. The story is a fast read and there s plenty of steaming erotica to please the reader as well as the characters. Another solid book from Sarah J Stone. Grady Harp, June 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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