Writing groups can be funny things.
I chat with mine daily, and that means ideas get tossed around, drafted, tightened, fretted over, and fawned over. And sometimes those ideas grow into something more than a story in our minds.
Elemental Awakening came to life at the hands of Mandy Dawson, and I loved reading the novel that develops an entire world — and promises more to the story Dawson begins in her first novel.
I want to be friends with Helen Browning, the midwife main character who finds her life upended when her touch brings a long-trapped soul back to the realm of the mortal world. She’s tough, sassy, and lovely, like so many heroines, but she’s also stubborn and a little flawed, and those traits are the ones that draw me to her and her story.
Helen has been drawn to the ancient statue called Sarlic, since she saw a photo as a child, but she never expects to unearth what she does when she crosses a museum barrier for a single touch. When her fingertips break the shackles of an ancient curse, she needs to come to terms with the truth about her connection to Luke, her role in a war she doesn’t understand, and the secrets about some of the people she’s loved her entire life.
Despite the supernatural elements in the story, Helen and Luke’s relationship feels refreshingly down-to-earth. Helen’s reluctance to sacrifice her sense of self for the pull of a new-to-her love will resonate with every woman who’s tried to integrate a relationship into a life that seems pretty full already. I found myself rooting for Helen and Luke as a couple, but rooting for them on her terms, despite the undoubtable pull and power he holds over her — for better or for worse.
As Helen and Luke struggle to find a balance between the ancient forces that hurled them together and the life Helen has built for herself in the present time, a battle brews around them. Helen isn’t the only one dealing with Luke’s awakening, and the powerful evil that overtook him years before is on her way back to finish the job.
Elemental Awakening covers all the bases of an utterly satisfying read: strong characters, a strong plot, and just enough of a conclusion to make the first book in a trilogy feel complete while leaving readers dying to know what happens next. Something to note — and one of the things I admire most in books — is the consummate balance Dawson manages between character motivation and plot. When building an entire mythology, keeping all of plotting and the rules straight while maintaining solid, authentic character development can be a struggle, but Elemental Awakening does it seamlessly.
Dawson might tell you she’s a romance author, but she’s more than that (not that there’s anything wrong with being a romance author). Elemental Awakening, though, is more than a romance story. In it, Dawson shows she’s also a world builder, a mythology maker, and perhaps most importantly, a storyteller. No matter what your favorite reading genre might be, the story in Elemental Awakening will keep you turning the pages until your eyes get gritty with the need for sleep. The only good thing about the book ending is that the story will be continue in Dawson’s second book.
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