Title: Rowena's Key
The key would unlock his future and the safety of his kingdom, but he never imagined the sorceress would unlock his heart…
Antiques restorer, Rowena Lindstrom, finds herself the owner of an ancestral armoire containing a hidden key and a magic mirror leading to another realm!
But the handsome warrior prince waiting on the other side is truly the final straw. This must be an elaborate joke, right? As she struggles to discover the truth, Rowena learns Prince Caedmon Austiere needs the key to save his kingdom. In the end, she cannot deny him anything. Including her heart.
Author: A.J. Neust
Published by Harper Impulse Source: Author
Published: 7 November 2013
Genres: Fantasy Romance
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The start of a new series, and the first I have read by this author, Rowena’s Key mixes several elements in a unique way to give us a gripping introduction and taste for more to come.
I enjoyed Rowena as a character; even when her confidence in her ‘picking skills’ for antiques was shook, she didn’t allow the odd armoire to keep her constrained for long. When the armoire opened of its own accord, and the mirror presented her with choices and opportunities far beyond any she could imagine, her daring might have been foolhardy but her curiosity was easy to relate to and understand.
Caedmon was the reluctant, at first, hero. Sent to woo the one who held the key, he was truly a breath of fresh air. Horrible singing and poetry drops from his lips, I laughed out loud more than once at the description. His honor and determination in his mission to join the two worlds was admirable and intriguing, and I adored the use of the mirror as the portal.
Caedmon and Rowena were clever together as a couple; while their attraction builds we also see their characters develop more fully: there isn’t an instant connection or attraction, but a slow build to the tension. And Rowena’s best friend Ollie is a clever insertion with his flair for fashion and appreciation of his friend.
There are other threads that are brought in to give a taste of action and plotting to come: there is a mystery that Rowena wants to solve about her gaining the key, and Caedmon’s lands are at war: these two subplots are left without resolution, but are presented as little hints to things to come and answers to be revealed.
Be aware that this is a novella-length story at just over 100 pages. While there are several different elements vying for attention, Neust managed to give a sense of pacing that is not rushed or glossing over critical elements needed to understand or enjoy the story. The writing is tight, clean and clearly presented: characters are developing and growing before your eyes, and there is a sense that answers will come as the relationship and action develops. This is a very clever fantasy romance story, with plenty of unique elements presented in intriguing ways to give a nice taste of the world, the mystery and the characters.