Touch of Smoke

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

So, what did I like about it?
Karissa Laurel is a new-to-me author and I found her writing style easy to read, intelligent and well crafted. I loved the way she used the first chapter to set the scene; piquing our interest and introducing our heroine, Rikki Albemarle.

I really loved the folklore and mythology that Ms Laurel based her story on; it’s an area of world mythology that doesn’t appear very often in the books that I read and it was a refreshing change.

I think that Ms Laurel’s world building throughout this book was fantastic; the town of Evansville came alive in my imagination, the townsfolk that were introduced to us were well described and we got the chance to get to know them and immerse ourselves in their lives.

I liked the way we were kept taken back to the time leading up to the “incident” that’s in the book’s blurb; Ms Laurel ensures her readers aren’t lost by clearly stating at the start of the chapter whether we’re reading something that happened 3 years ago or now in the present.

So, ummm, was there anything I disliked about it?
As you can tell from my rating, there was a lot that didn’t work for me. I’m not going to list everything, however, I will highlight my main grumbles.

Firstly, I think it took too long to discover the details about the “murder” – at 29% into the book, I’d still not discovered what the “incident” was that Rikki kept referring to; if I hadn’t known about the murder from the blurb, I still would have been completely in the dark. Even knowing about it, we didn’t actually get to the event in question until the 70% mark. I’ve got to be honest and say that reading the blurb, I was expecting a murder thriller type paranormal romance story following Rikki on her dangerous quest to bring the ancient and powerful evil to justice while coming to terms with the supernatural aspect (whatever that turned out to be) of her ex-boyfriend, Owen and rekindling their love through a kickass adventure. This book isn’t like that and, OK, that’s down to my interpretation of the blurb.

However, my biggest gripe was with our heroine, Rikki. I crave leading female characters that are intelligent, resilient, resourceful and have plenty of gumption; Rikki fell very short of the mark for me. I could never understand why she reacted to the “death of her best friend” the way she did and I got very frustrated, with what I perceived as, her modus operandi – to run away. Nobody else in town ran away? In the end, I felt that Rikki, was a bit of a flake or drama queen and although she’s obviously suffering from a mental breakdown because of the way her best friend died, I felt that we were never really shown how it affected her (there is a sentence or town near the end that tells us how bad it got but too little, too late for me) or why she couldn’t cope, what was she thinking? Where was the inner dialogue that would help me to understand?

I don’t usually choose to read New Adult, Young Adult or teen novels because of all the angst, thought processes and actions of this age group; it all frustrates the hell out of me and my blood pressure doesn’t need that kind of stress from my “hobby”.

So, basically what I'm saying is...
Touch of Smoke isn’t my cup of tea. I am always reluctant to write reviews for books that I don’t enjoy reading and I must confess that this novel is too YA/New Adult-esque for my tastes; hence my 2 star rating – I thought it was OK, however, it has already received lots of 5 star ratings from happy readers.
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Touch of Smoke is a contemporary romance that has the most delicious paranormal twist to it. The entire story revolves around Rikki and Owen’s love affair and the deadly consequences of one nightmarish night. In order to truly understand everything that took place and the emotional impact, this story transitions between the past and the present and is told from Rikki’s point of view. The pacing of the story was quite steady and for me was slow to really claim my interest, at first, but only because I wanted to jump down the paranormal rabbit hole 😊. Initially, it was an introduction into a small town with a woman who had big dreams to leave and her chance encounter with a man who had her reconsidering her choices but there was also the ever-present desire to know what happened that night that had caused Rikki to leave everyone she loved behind.

The romance between Rikki and Owen was first love awareness and it was sweet, swoony and mysterious. Owen is an absolute heartthrob and the connection between him and Rikki was the kind that can be felt through the pages. It was palpable and powerful! Not only could I feel their connection but it was the same with all the characters in this story. They all felt very real and their connection with Rikki was tangible. As the story unfolded and the paranormal element was introduced and explained I was thrilled. It was quite an interesting take on one of my favorite paranormal types! I liked that Rikki struggled with accepting what she considered unbelievable, her reactions all felt authentic to me as did Owen’s feelings about his situation.

I definitely was torn between feeling for Rikki’s loss as well as feeling for Owen’s loss because it created a huge divide between them and it seemed like such a waste but sometimes there are things that just can’t be worked through in the moment. Sometimes it can take years and even that doesn’t help being willing to accept the unbelievable which is exactly what Rikki had to do. Though, once she opened up her mind to possibilities the story really took off and gripped me straight through until the end. The ending just had all the feels and I was just tearing up over everything but at the same time my little heart was beating with the hope of possibilities. Although it took me some time to really sink into, Touch of Smoke was one second chance romance that I would highly recommend!

This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.
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Touch of Smoke, Karissa Laurel

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy.

I loved Karissa's Norse Chronicles, a really unusual supernatural series in a genre that's dominated by vampires and werewolves. I was hoping she'd put that same unique spin on this book, and wasn't disappointed. 

This story is told in a past/present format, with a three year gap between the two time periods. I really enjoyed the way the tension is built, that we know something supernatural is happening, but not what or why. 
I could see how Rikki felt that events were strange and yet like most of us, she dismissed her feelings as wrong. Well, who really believes in a supernatural answer, we're creatures who believe in the obvious answer, and not the spooky one that we can't really believe in. 
I loved the characters, from Rikki and Mina, Owen and Luke, diner owner Rose, and Rikki's mum who's the town sheriff. Rikki wasn't expecting to fall for Owen, being focused on escaping the town, but her friend Luke returns bringing Owen with him and they both seem set to settle in the town. That poses a problem for Rikki, who wants to do her training in a place four hours away....
And then the big mystery, huge events, Mina dies, Rikki can't quite believe what she saw, what terrified her, what gives her nightmares still. She finds it hard to believe Owen could do what she remembers, but now three years later she's ready – maybe - to face up to what she ran from, to seek answers. 

I love the way it all slowly falls into place, how once more Karissa has turned to a more unusual form of supernatural entity for her story. 
I loved Owen from the start, but could see how the secrets were wearing on Rikki, how she was struggling to convince herself about what she'd seen, whether it was real or her imagination, but those nightmares and Mina's death were certainly real. And scary! 
I enjoyed the way it wrapped up, it was a very satisfying ending. I hate when there are unanswered questions or solutions that come too easily and with supernatural stories I feel too often a slip of magic is used as answer and it feels too slick. I want my solutions to be hard won, to require energy, effort, sacrifice, not just a metaphorical wave of a hand.  This ending was perfect.

Stars: Five, another fabulous read from Karissa. 

Arc via Netgalley and publishers
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Wasn't able to download this particular copy but I did buy it. 
This story grabbed me from start to end, it was hard to put it down. I loved the author’s style of writing.
This book has everything. Layers of twists throughout the entire book. The mystery was so well crafted that I had no idea what was going on until it was finally revealed.

I might have found my next book boyfriend. Such a great read!
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Touch of Smoke is a charming yet strange romance story. The romance element is a bit convoluted, and I was lost many times. The whimsical magical element kind of feels out of place. It's just a bit off. The characters are engaging and complex. The story is written well and unfolds at a good pace. I didn't love it, but it's a matter of taste on my part. Fans of this type of read will enjoy it. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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I   liked a lot about this story and there were elements I didn't. Owen was an   interesting character, a quiet hero and vet, seeking to set down roots and   live a quiet life, when he meets Rikki he wants her to be part of that life.   I had problems liking Rikki, the wishy, washy, back and forth about seeing   Owen went on so long that it became annoying. The story goes back and forth   from when Rikki and Owen met to the event that sends Rikki fleeing, to the   present when Rikki returns trying to kill her uncover a monster and free   herself from the monsters from her dreams. It takes almost the entire story   to find out what happened and why Owen is different. When these guys were   working as a couple I really liked their energy and connection but Rikki's   waffling kept feeling like a slap in the face. The supporting characters were   interesting and a great addition. I liked most of the story, it had   interesting twists and handled the transitions really well. I liked how she handled Owen's Arabic roots, and mythology. 

I received a copy   of this book from &NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I received a copy of this book directly from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Touch of Smoke by Karissa Laurel was a uniquely fantastic tale of a small town romance overshadowed by the danger and allure of old magic. The story was fast-paced, well written, and easy to sink into. I thoroughly enjoyed the small cast of characters – Especially Rikki.

My only complaint is that the narrative had a tendency to be a bit overly dramatic, especially in the beginning, and I really wish that the author had spent more time delving into the darker and more mysterious aspects of the plot.

That aside, it was an intriguing paranormal twist on the usual small-town contemporary romance, and I really enjoyed it. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance who is looking to delve into the paranormal genre – this was a nice blend of the two.
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A different paranormal with a mystery ,suspense,romance.
Rikki and Owen were a couple who started to fall in love but something tragic with a supernatural element happensand Rikki left town but came back to find out what happened that night Mina died.
Very slow in getting to the real story.
Voluntarily reviewed
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I really wanted to like this book more than I did.  All the elements were there.  An intriguing paranormal element, interesting setting, a strong male lead, second chance romance...  all of these things should lead me to love this book but it just didn't come together for me.

I think what let me down was the actual structure of the book.  It skips back and forth between past and present between the story of Rikki and Owen meeting and Rikki coming back to town years after what happened having abandoned everyone who cared for her.  Because of the back and forth nature of the book I never got attached to Rikki as the young, ambitious, hardworking woman she was before everything went to hell.  You're introduced to her as a woman who is frankly selfish (one of the first things you learn about her is that she basically ignored the woman who was essentially a mother to her having a major heart attack ) and I never quite connected with her from then on.  I think if the book had more of a linear format, breaking it into two parts I could have connected with younger Rikki first and really felt the impact of how the events that occurred changed her.

My recommendation - give the book a chance, there are some really strong elements to it.  And you may be able to see beyond Rikki's character flaws.  I really wanted too but couldn't in the end.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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This story grabbed me from start to end, it was hard to put it down to catch up with the real world every so often. The beginning was slow to build, but never tedious. The plot was constructed carefully and executed brilliantly, making everything completely believable. The characters were flawed and real, and well-developed.

What caught my attention first is the fact that I loved the author’s style of writing. I enjoyed reading every word. The words flowed well together, she used a lot of well-placed imagery, and she expertly led us from scene to scene, showing, rather than telling.

I loved Owen Amir, an ex-soldier with an intriguing and mysterious family history. And I suppose he just wanted to fit in and find love like everybody else. He was trying very hard to build a relationship with Rikki, without having to reveal his darker side. Rikki, however, was no slouch, and she quickly realized there is more to Owen than meets the eye. She struggled to trust her attraction to Owen, and the connection that had grown so rapidly. After a horrific incident, Rikki fled town, hoping to get away from everything. But she found out the hard way that you cannot outrun your demons, and lucky for us, she found her courage to return and find the answers to her questions.

The ending was very sweet, but I was sad to see them go. 

I would definitely recommend this book to paranormal/fantasy fans. But if you are a romance reader who is willing to take on a bit more than what every day life throws at us, then I’m sure you will get the same enjoyment out of this book.

I received an advanced copy of the book from Netgalley to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I really enjoyed being transported to the land of Islamic tales (some that I knew very little about)!  I knew that this book was paranormal, but I did not expect to encounter the legends and stories that I did!  I loved the combination of the lore with a modern day, Smoky Mountain setting- completely at odds with each other, but some how worked perfectly for this story!  The juxtaposition between present day and past left me wondering what was truly happening, and I was surprised when I finally discovered the truth.  I would have enjoyed a bit more interaction between the characters once the truth was discovered, but the story was still exciting and captivating.  I enjoyed this romance intertwined with Arabian tales and am so glad I got to go onto this journey into an unknown world!

*** A huge thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for gifting me with a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.  ****
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Rikki had left Evansville behind never expecting to come back and yet here she was, back once again. She'd left when her best friend was was murdered but she left without a backwards glance, hoping the monsters she's sure she saw wouldn't come after her next. Even though Rikki left, the nightmares stayed with her so she figured the only thing she could do to get rid of them was to come back and get some answers. 

This story gives us a lot of back story, a lot of lead up to what happened 3 years ago when her best friend, Mina was killed. The story switches from past to present as it leads up to the night of the murder and Rikki confronting Owen 3 years later. We really get to know the characters who were involved and get glimpses into what felt like the lead up to a paranormal encounter. There are small things that give away that Owen is more than what he appears. I'm sure anyone reading this will see all the different clues we are given about what or who he actually is. At least I thought I knew where this story was going. I was so wrong. I never would have guessed where this story was going but the explanation of what happened the night that Mina was killed was utterly incredible. 

This is a standalone book that gives you all the information you need to enjoy a love story, heartache, magic and a reluctant hero. Owen was definitely the hero of this story even though there's a lot more to him than we first expect. The romance between Owen and Rikki was a slow burn, but soon that fire burns so bright it engulfs everyone in the room. This was definitely a sweet romance with an incredible paranormal twist. 

Have you ever read a book that you really liked and just want to tell everyone to read and hope that they like it as much as you did? This is one of those books for me. Go read it.

Disclosure: I received this book free via NetGalley but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Rikki returns home after obtaining her education goals to be a nurse. She has struggled with demons even though she thought she had left them at home. She has lost her father and best friend. She fears the man she loves is a monster and is confused by what she has seen. This book is a mix of a fairy tale with a supernatural element. The characters are young but seem older by what they have experience. I enjoyed this book and recommend it.  I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Touch of Smoke was a great read.  It was my first book by Ms. Laurel and I loved it. I loved all of the characters (especially Owen - he has such an interesting personality, it was infectious. I basked in it.) and so much happened to all of them in this book! The plot was great - every important scene led to another, the fighting scenes were amazing, the magic and mythology were interesting... The book was different, entertaining, and kept my attention. I love stories about magic in a modern setting and this one didn't disappoint. This story is whimsical and yet heavy at the same time. The writing was good, the characters pretty well-defined, the plot easy to follow, without being too simplistic. 
The only thing that didn't really live up to my expectations, after the book gripped me so in the beginning, was the resolution of the mystery/book. I was a little disappointed in how all turned out (hence 4 and not 5 stars). It felt like a HNA ending and I don't like that. I really, really disliked that ending. But I will defenitely read more of this author anyway.
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