Tuesday, November 12, 2019

What We're Reading: Sand and Storm (Lauricia)

I am a huge fan of epic high fantasy. If I can't find anything in that venue when I begin a new a book, I opt for more traditional stuff. It's not that I'm intentionally snobbish - I don't intend to turn my nose up at contemporary fantasy sub-genres like mashups and retellings, I just don't experience the same rush from them that I do from hard-core fantasy. (Please don't throw that fruit at me; why not make it into a nice salad, instead?) That being said, I'm not so much of a genre-snob that I won't read anything else. Every once in a while I step out of my high-elf epic story preference and read something different. Quite often, in fact, and I'm usually glad I did.

One example of such a delightful foray is the novel Sand and Storm, by Stella Dorthwany. This gem of a novel is a unique approach to period romance/fantasy mash-up that is as delightful as the cover is beautiful, and I am happy to have come across it.

Cora Demesthelyn is bound in a political marriage. She wouldn’t mind so much if only her new husband would at least try to be genial, but when their honeymoon is cancelled so he can attend to a dire situation at his job site, Cora’s hopes for even a shred of civility between her and her husband blow away like sand in the wind.

Faryn Montphish is an intern at an archaeological dig where she finds more than she bargained for. Her tender heart has always burned with compassion for animals in need, which often leads to confrontations with potentially deadly results. When an animal rescue plan lands Faryn in a job as assistant to Professor Valerian, known as the “Heart Breaker of the Year”, Faryn falls in love with more than the native wildlife.

Allied in a secret plan to preserve the magic of their world, Shaun and Damorin have labored for years to find the pieces of an ancient artifact necessary for their success. The women in their lives are necessary distractions, means to an end until the men discover their scheme to save the world can’t succeed without them.

Sand and Storm is a clean fantasy romance reminiscent of the Indiana Jones movies. This plot-driven story packed with action that leaves readers consuming pages at break-neck speed without sacrificing a satisfying amount of character development. I especially enjoyed this story for its relatable characters and original take on an element-based magic system. This story will especially appeal to fans of fantasy in the romantic adventure sub-genre.

I cannot recommend this story enough. It is well-written, the characters are endearing, and the plot elements are organic as well as believable. If you haven't read this book yet, you want to. Go. Do it now. You'll thank me.

What about you? What is your fantasy sub-genre of preference, and what gems have you found when you've ventured beyond your own well-beaten path? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

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