Friday, March 5, 2010

Summer-set by Karalynn Lee

TITLE: Summer-set
AUTHOR: Karalynn Lee
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 21k)
GENRE: Fantasy erotic romance
COST: $3.50

Ryuan is the prince’s hunter, a wolf-born in a land where sorcery is outlawed. The time has come for him to take down a sorcerer who has escaped his punishment, but in his quest, he hopes to find the woman who distracted him from capturing the sorcerer the first time, the woman he has not been able to stop thinking about in all the time since…

I fell in love with this author’s voice from the very first words:

Monsoons filled that summer, and she filled his heart. Later, during evening storms, he thought of the sudden shadows her breasts made with every flash of lightning. Thought of how the rain would seep into her and give her its wetness, until she was fluid all around him, her skin slick with it, her cries dissolving. They moved with the same steady rhythm of the drumming of the water. And when he called her name in that last desperate delving for her innermost secrets, the thunder drowned his voice.

In the autumn, she slipped out of his hold like the rain.

The imagery and lyricism is just gorgeous. I didn’t even read the whole excerpt when I bought the book. I read those first two paragraphs, and knew it was going to be something special.

And it was, for the most part. The author maintains her voice throughout the story, creating an atmosphere and mood that absolutely swept me away. This is how I like my fantasy best – with such a light touch that I don’t feel clobbered over my head by the differences. There is just enough detail to suck me in, without bogging me down. Sometimes, it gets a little lost to leave room for the romance, but I’m mostly okay with that within the context of the story.

The one part that lets down this novella is the pacing. It’s strong throughout the first half, but as soon as Ryuan finds Calanthe again, it starts to fall apart. Part of that is due to plot developments the author has chosen. I won’t spoil to specifics, but I will say that not allowing your hero to be heroic weakens both him and the story. I thought the entire last third fell apart in this regard. If I didn’t love the prose as much as I do, I would have scored this a lot lower as a result.

The lyricism of the author’s voice bolsters her characterizations. Calanthe falters due to the role she plays in the story (so much of the first third/half is Ryuan’s longing/frustration for her), but Ryuan shines. I did feel a little cheated in regards to his arc, because of the story directions the author chose, but he is strong, honorable, and just lost enough to make me yearn for him to get his closure. He is the story’s heart, and strengthened by the author’s voice, provided all I needed.


9/10 – Some absolutely gorgeous prose only gets held back by the pacing


8/10 – In spite of feeling cheated on his arc, I adored him


6/10 – The focus on Ryuan for much of the story keeps her at a distance from the reader

Entertainment value

8/10 – Love the author’s voice, just wish the pacing held up to the rest of it

World building

7/10 – An interesting world with enough details to keep it focused and clear, but I had a lot of questions I wanted answers to



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