- Author: Beth Balmanno
- Series: Set In Stone #1
- Format: Kindle Ebook
- Publication Date: February 4, 2012
- Pages: 313 pages
- Source: Won
Fifteen year-old Valerie is used to losing things–she lost her dad to his job ages ago and her best friend moved with no warning...and hasn't been heard from since. During a weekend camping trip with her emotionally distant parents, she stumbles upon a hidden, mysterious stone and she finds herself desperate to keep it, to possess it. Two strange and beautiful boys have other plans, however. They follow her home–Leo, warm and seductive, who covets the stone and will stop at nothing to get it; and Noel, dark-haired and wise, who pledges to protect her and keep her safe.
As she delves deeper into the magic of the stone and the Celtic lore that surrounds it, Valerie realizes that she's losing. Again. But this loss might involve more than a magical stone – this time, she just might lose her heart.
I won this book in a contest. Naturally, I wasn't sure what to expect. I had entered the contest after seeing the Goodreads summary above and thought, "why not? It looks interesting!" Plus, the thought of two attractive guys warring over a girl got me interested, too. Admittedly, I'm a sucker for plots that contain any sort of love-triangle. But what I want to say is that I am beyond impressed with this debut e-book. It's much longer than any other e-book I've read to date, and I loved that. Beth Balmanno has a way with words.
Valerie is only fifteen years old when she stumbles off of a path in the woods on her annual hiking trip. This path leads her to a magical, glowing stone that has a temperature that alternates between hot and cold. Not long after finding the stone, she runs into two boys: Noel and Leo. Noel, the boy who wishes to protect her from unknown forces, soon finds himself falling in love with Valerie. Leo, the boy who seems to be surrounded by constant sunshine and has the ability to hypnotize Val into doing almost anything he wishes, will stop at nothing to retrieve the stone from her. What powers lurk within this magical stone? Why do two gorgeous boys want it so badly that they will follow her away from her campsite and attend her school in an attempt to retrieve it? And why, oh why, does Val feel such an inexplicable draw to the dark-haired beauty that is Noel Flannery?
The plot for this book is great. I haven't come across anything like it and the incorporation of Celtic lore was a bonus for me. I love any type of mythology, but I have never stumbled across Celtic mythology before. Balmanno introduces you to a new kind of history as Valerie works to uncover the secrets of her precious stone. And, may I add, she does it with an expertise that is enviable. I guarantee that this plot is not one that you have come across before and, overall, it will be a pleasant surprise to you.
The foreshadowing connected to Noel and Leo's true identities was a bit obvious at times. If you sat down and thought about things for a second, you could figure out what they were and what their powers entailed on your own, though their history and purpose would be something completely unexpected. For the most part, the book was not that predictable.
The characterization in this novel was genius. Val was so stubborn, so desperate to be loved and cared for, simply to be noticed. That's all she wanted. And that is something that Noel was so willing to give to her. To him, she was the ultimate beauty. I enjoyed watching Val's journey to self-discovery. I also enjoyed watching her gain her strength near the end of the book. I'm sure that if I were ever put into a situation that could change the fate of the world as we know it, I'd probably freak out just as much as she had, probably even more.
Noel and Leo were mesmerizing. I love their Celtic history and the fact that they're utter opposites, yet so willing to help each other when they're in the proper state of mind. Leo is warm and wonderful while Noel is cold and wise. And together, they make the ultimate pair of eye-candy in the form of twins. They left me begging to read more and more!
This book was an enjoyable read and I do plan on obtaining the sequel whenever it comes out. As of now, Balmanno is working on another book before getting back to the sequel, but I will be eagerly anticipating it. I am choosing to give this book 4.5 stars. While it blew me away as a debut novel, it did have one drawback to me and that was that, at times, it lacked flow. Everything seemed to just "magically" fall into place in some instances. Before Val could sit down and fully contemplate one major happening, some other major event happened that was somehow connected to the previous event so perfectly that it was almost ironic. I wish, at times, that there was more room for detail. Aside from that, I have no qualms with this novel and believe that its sequel will be a novel worth checking out, especially since I couldn't stop myself from reading the sneak-peek of the sequel in the back of the prequel and I'm currently brimming with anticipation.
This is definitely an e-book worth reading if you ever have the time. A cute little read to grab for the Summer!
The cover is simple! It's not mind-blowing, but it doesn't stink. It gets the job done and pulls you in. It makes anyone browsing Amazon ask, "why is that stone glowing?" And, of course, since stones do not glow, it makes you want to pick up the book and figure out why that stone is so special. It hints at the story inside and that's all it needs to do.