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elizabetta

elizabetta

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Morgan Harcourt;Laylah Hunter;Thea Hayworth;Gryvon
The Druid Stone - Heidi Belleau, Violetta Vane 3.5 stars

Boy, wouldn’t I have loved to have been a fly on the wall when Belleau and Vane were pounding out this story together! What a complex swirl of contemporary romance, paranormal horror story, time travel and Celtic mythology. Never a dull derivative moment in this collaboration!

Druid Stone worked best for me when the focus was on Seam and Cormac's developing romantic relationship. The paranormal story within a story was interesting and well written but distracted from the love story. An interesting dilemma since without the druid stone, a cursed nightmare-inducing talisman given to Sean by his grandfather, there would be no story. Or, well, a much less involved one anyway. For it is the stone that brings the two MCs together. Sean, Cuban-Irish American travels to Ireland to seek out help from Cormac, Druid sorcerer. It is the stone and Cormac’s mojo that allows them to travel between different dimensions and times in an attempt to break the curse. The attraction between the two MCs is a bit of a slow burn. Sean is gorgeously exotic with his mixed Cuban and Irish heritage and Cormac is drawn to him. Cormac is sexually cocky and aggressive but waits for a signal from Sean to ‘play for his team.’ This does read as gay-for-you as Sean considers himself hetero despite his rent-boy history. I did say complex, right? I liked that there is no insta-love and the sexual tension runs strong through their early relationship. I like that they have to grow towards each other.

Druid Stone is the sequel to Cruce de Caminos where we first meet Sean living on the streets of New Orleans. I had a bit of work adjusting from that earlier Sean, gay-for-pay-rent-boy, to the cleaned up Sean of Druid; and his seamy past isn’t really discussed in Druid until about the 30% mark. In New Orleans he was in serious need of direction; now he’s a recovering addict working hard to stay clean, solve the mystery of those nightmare/visions, and connect with his Irish heritage. It was never clear in Cruces why he was using drugs but it seems now that he has been trying to diminish the horrendous nightmares he’s been suffering from and he desperately needs help with vanquishing them.

The plusses in Druid lie in the strong writing and imagery evoked. You know you are in the hands of some talented writers. My issue is that certain parts worked better than others for me -- it felt like there was a bit too much going on. This is after all, a romance (much more so than in Cruces) and when the story strayed away from that it lost some luster. Still, the paranormal world aided in bringing Sean and Cormac together and will feature heavily in any future sequels. I never know quite what to expect with Belleau and Vane and that’s a good thing in this genre often given to overworked romance tropes.