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Reviewed by Galen Strickland

This review will be short and sweet, just like the book. It's the type of fantasy I enjoy most, grounded in the real world, with realistic everyday characters, but ones open-minded enough to recognize and embrace magic when they encounter it. Abe Aronson is a retired history professor who has long been working on a book about an obscure 14th Century English priest. In his spare time he listens to blues records and tries to perfect his technique on the harmonica. His lover of twenty-two years is Joanna Delvecchio, an airline hostess who has her own apartment in Seattle, but frequently spends time at Abe's house on an island in Puget Sound. Joanna's adult daughter Lily is quite fond of "Uncle" Abe, whom she has known since she was six, but her relationship with her mother has always been strained. Their lives have been comfortable for many years, static and predictable. Until...

Into their lives comes Lioness Lazos, a new waitress at their favorite restaurant. When they learn she is living in the storeroom in back, Joanna offers her Abe's garage to live in, and he grudgingly agrees. Lioness is mysterious, secretive of her past, unlike any other young woman they've ever known. At the same time she is warm and friendly, putting everyone at ease (and under her spell). She also seems to have brought something else to the island. The weather is as perfect for February as anyone can recall, and it continues into the spring and summer, even though the mainland suffers through much harsher weather. Abe finally reasons out the cause.

There are a couple of missteps early in the book, maybe misdirections. The first is the name, Lioness, not her real name and maybe misspelled, one which might get the reader thinking of Arthurian legend. No, she's older than that, and from another part of the world. The second mistake(?) is what occurs on the first night of her stay at Abe's, something completely opposite of the later revelations. Those small complaints aside, I recommend this for the evocative, descriptive prose, along with the believable characters. It's a story about love, both won and lost, about contentment with what one has, but also about pain and the regrets stacking up as high as the memories. Happiness mixed with melancholy. Almost a fairy tale, but that doesn't mean happily every after for everyone, or for anyone. Such is life.


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