Lauren L. Garcia

North Florida, USA

If I've done my job as a storyteller correctly, your only question as a reader will be: "what happens next?"

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Addictive high fantasy romance with impeccable worldbuilding

So, I basically did nothing other than read "Heart of Oak, Soul of Stone" all weekend! I've been a fan of Schott's writing for many years, but this story blew me away. The intricate worldbuilding alone will please any fantasy fan; the in-depth portrayals of good people in difficult situations will draw in readers from any genre.

At times, the worldbuilding took up a bit too much room, somewhat slowing down the narrative. While I appreciated the depth of detail, I found myself impatient to get back to the characters and their interactions!

I sincerely hope there is a sequel in the works, as I'm totally invested in Kael, Kivi, and the rest of these remarkable characters.

What a wonderful read! :)

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Heartbreaking, but vivid!

Wow! This story hit me right in the gut; a visceral and emotional impact that I didn't see coming. I'm not well-versed in the horror genre, so I wasn't sure what to expect with "Emily," but I found this piece quite powerful. Gabriel's terror leaped off the page and immediately pulled me into the narrative, which was brief, by necessity.

Technically speaking, there are a few run-on sentences, but they did not deter from my enjoyment of the piece. I also think the introduction could be expanded just a bit, to better build the tension before the action begins.

The title is both heartbreaking and perfect. Loved the description of the fire and how it contrasted with Gabriel's memories of his home.

This is a super quick, super engaging read!

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Lovely romance with strong themes!

I've been a fan of Ms. Schott's writing for many years, so I knew that I would enjoy this piece; I just wasn't prepared for how much I'd love it! As always, her writing style, both technical and literary, is nearly flawless. She makes the labor of fiction feel effortless - the mark of a great artist. It was remarkably easy for me to get swept away by the narrative.

As another reviewer said, the first chapter is a bit long. I think some of Holly's musings on Yule could be cut, as they are clear in a later flashback. However, that is a small matter in light of the richness of the story as a whole.

Themes of transformation, death, and rebirth are strong, and the Pagan elements mesh perfectly with the down-home, "rustic" feel of Oklahoma. (Note: I LOVE that such a romantic, fantastical story takes place in OK!) Holly is an engaging narrator who is transformed through the love of her life, even though he has long since left this world. The supporting cast is small, but memorable and lovely. The conclusion is satisfying and beautifully heart-wrenching.

I highly recommend this story!

So...where can I get one of those paintings of Yule? ;)

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1st Place in Dreamlands

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