Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review: Gargoyle: Three Enchanting Romance Novellas by Beth Barany, Kay Keppler and Patricia Simpson

The mysterious lives of gargoyles. They don’t just hang out on buildings. They right wrongs. They wreak havoc. And they change the lives of unsuspecting people who never see them coming.

ON A WING AND A PRAYER BY Kay Keppler (Humorous Contemporary)
The hero...
Craig knows that Bea is in trouble. But Craig can’t do anything about it—because he’s a garden gargoyle and Bea can’t hear his warnings. When unexpected visitors arrive to help, Craig finds the power he had all along. Now the neighborhood will never be the same.

TOUCHSTONE OF LOVE by Beth Barany (Time Travel)
The touchstone...
When a thunderstorm transports software expert Rose Waldman to thirteenth century France, she meets hunky stonemason Julien, who is secretly creating a gargoyle in defiance of his master mason. Can independent gadget loving Rose trust her life and heart to Julien, and can she really never go home again?

THE MILLER’S DAUGHTER BY Patricia Simpson (Historical)
And the freak just trying to get along...
Sentenced to burn at the stake for sorcery, Merofled volunteers to help jaded warrior Alaric kill a gargoyle that threatens her village. But Merofled soon discovers the gargoyle is not a monster at all. It’s a misfit just like her. Can she persuade Alaric to spare the gargoyle–and herself?


I never pictured saying to myself "I need more gargoyles in my life" but this compilation of stories might just have me changing my mind. In this book are three novellas all about the stone carvings you see on the facades of buildings and all over court yards around the world. I've personally never read a story about said statues, and don't know much about them unless you count the Disney movie Hunchback of Notre Dame and the cartoon series named after them, so when I was asked to read and review this, it definitely got my attention. Since there are three stories, I'll break them down into the cute, the romantic and the redemption.

The cute one was On a Wing and a Prayer, the story about a garden gargoyle who is desperate to protect the homeowner Bea from her horrible drug-dealing ex-boyfriend and his attempts to scare her. Craig really won my heart over because of how determined he was to keep Bea from harm, even when he knows she can't hear him. After some meddling by modern versions of Roman Gods, he obtains the ability to fly and in doing so giving him the ability to protect her. This story was punctuated by a lot of humor and an overall sense of whimsy, which was really nice. It did get intense for a while there but gave a warm and fuzzy feeling at the end. I really enjoyed it's ability to fit all sorts characters into a short story and still be able to tell me exactly what the main characters all about in so little words. As much as I wanted to more about what was going on in the story, such as why Jupiter would see fit to send major Gods to protect one human, at the end of the day it is a short story so I understood the restraint on story lines. In the amount of story I did read however, Craig was absolutely a hero that Bea deserved.

Romance fell in the middle story, Touchstone of Love, that also through in some time travel into the mix. Rose Waldman started her trip to London via France, where everything seem to going exactly how she planned. That is until she misses her connecting flight and ends up staying the night in a small village in the countryside. Being struck by lightening while out on a jog could make anyone a bit foggy but being thrown back into 13th century is down right disorienting. Even more brain rattling is meeting a sexy stonemason that takes care of her and helps acclimate Rose to being a women so far back in time. I'll be honest, Rose grated on me for a while at the beginning. In fact she made a comment about her sleeping with married men that just straight up made me dislike her. However, after going through the whole story between her and Julian, I have to say she made me a believer. The story was really romantic and the two of them together are just pure magic. It is rare that I find a couple rather than a single character really making a story worth while, but this one does just that.

The final story, The Miller's Daughter, was a redemption story if I have ever read one. Sentenced to die after being accused of sorcery, Merofled promises to rid her town of a gargoyle that has everyone in fear. However, after a series of events she finds out that this gargoyle is not what it seems at the surface. She has to convince the warrior Alaric to spare said gargoyle and save his life. This story to me lived and died by Merofled herself. In this case she succeeds in being a character that really enjoyed reading about. She is strong and independent, especially in a time that woman are generally not that. She sees what others refuse to see past the surface of monster that is the gargoyle and recognizes the good. That is something I love in a character and it can change the flow of a story in a heart beat. This one does that and really made me love both heroine and monster by the time is was done.

Overall, these novellas were really great. My favorite of the three was the story of Craig the garden gargoyle simply because it was fun along with being intense, which is hard to accomplish. However, the three are very close in terms of which I liked more so that isn't saying much. If there was one reason I could give you to go out and read this anthology is simply because how many books can you name that involve gargoyles? And how many of those entertained you as much as these did me?

I didn't think so!- My Opinion- But it!

Get it here:

Excerpt from Touchstone of Love by Beth Barany 

Julien of Beauvais stomped through the edge of town, through the fields and the stormy dark. He didn’t care about the wet and wind. He needed to find peace, he needed to find inspiration. It was time that he showed Master Stonemason Bernard de Chantilly all of his skill and artistry and present his master work to the community and get his approval, even if the master stonemason said Julien could not present his work at Michaelmas in five days. 

The master stonemason didn’t like him and had not allowed him to present the previous year. But this year would be his. It was time he showed Master Bernard that he was ready to become a master mason and travel as a free man. His training was complete. He’d become a journeyman and done a short trip to Paris with Master Bernard a few years ago. Yet, most men at his age of twenty-six years had already started their own houses and were busy at work on the new cathedrals sprouting all over France.

He wanted to travel to Amiens, or Rennes, and direct his own house, with a woman at his side, and his own apprentices, and a passel of children. The time was now. His time. Oblivious to the cold and the wet, Julien stomped through the field in anger. 

Not only was Master Stonemason Bernard a barrier to his dreams, but so was also Marie-Jeanne, his intended. She’d betrayed him with that farm boy from the count’s household. How was he going to create a home when his betrothed was ready to run off with another?

That was why, in his anger, he’d messed up the day’s stone carving work and had been relegated to sorting and breaking granite blocks for the other apprentices.

The rain pelted his face as Julien stumbled over something. He lost his footing and slipped to his knees. He put out his hands to brace himself and felt something soft. Soft and warm.

As gently as he could, as if he were handling a new-born lamb back at his parents’ farm, he felt for the shape of the soft and warm, and unmistakably touched a breast. A woman fallen in the fields. In the cloudy night with no light of the moon or stars, he reached out to learn more about her. She was alive by the warmth of her, and by the strong pulse at her throat, and not long outdoors, as her skin wasn’t completely chilled. He couldn’t leave her, so he scooped up her unconscious, naked form and headed for his workshop hidden in a copse of chestnut trees outside the walls of the town.

Once inside his small workshop, he stoked the fire under the cook pot. He rushed to cover her with his blanket and rubbed the hands and feet of the woman, something he’d seen the old midwife do to women who sometimes fainted in the fields. The woman breathed deeply, but remained asleep.

She was naked, curved in all the right places. Clearly well fed, luscious, but quite improperly dressed for a fall night, as if she’d been bathing and wandered off from her task.

Maybe she was under some spell that made her sleep. While he was a god-fearing man, and worshipped Mother Mary, he knew magic was in the land. He felt it when he worked the stone every day, but never talked about it.

The woman appeared calm, even peaceful as she slept. Definitely a woman, not a girl. Her long golden locks had come loose from her tie. She had rosy cheeks, pink lips, an angular nose, and a long column of a throat. Her chest rose and fell with even breaths.

What color were her eyes? He pulled the wool blanket up under her chin, and tucked it around her body to keep her warm. A tiny waist, a warm shapely rump, long legs, strong feet—he noticed all that as he chastely tucked the blanket around her. He’d noticed that her palms were strong, with callused, long fingers, almost as big as his. She must be a farmhand from a neighboring village, but he didn’t recognize her.

She was almost angelic in how she slept. His troubles forgotten, he made for his worktable on the other side of the one-room shed and picked up his chisel. 

He’d found the inspiration he needed to start his work of art.

About the author:
Award-winning author, Beth Barany has been making up fantasy and adventure stories all her life. She writes magical tales of romance and adventure for women and girls to transport them to new worlds where anything is possible. To learn more about Beth and her fiction, visit her site: On Twitter: On Facebook:

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