When Isabella Barton runs from the disappointment that is her crumbled engagement to Ivan Sergeyev, head of the Russian mob in New York, she seeks refuge in the stately home that once belonged to her grandmother. Isabella is filled with regret and distrust in men. To her surprise, one of her grandmother’s old tomes seems to speak to her, prompting her with a spell that promises to conjure her True Love. What has she got to lose, right? Well, the spell does something for sure. As she casts the enchantment, a stunning, but barely conscious, man appears on the beach in front of Isabella, but nearly at the same time, so does an ominous figure who calls himself the Story Weaver. Dedicated to the outspoken goal of relishing the suffering of others, the Story Weaver throws a cruel twist into this meeting of new lovers by trapping Isabella in a two-week ultimatum that will see her either win her heart’s desire, or lose everything instead.

A mere nine chapters is all it took for this magical novella to encapsulate romance, suspense, fantasy, and adventure. A love spell, an old unsettled score, an existential challenge, and a dangerous ex-fiancé are scrunched into this tight but well imagined package. Isabella and her new beau, Zachariah, are a truly likeable couple. It isn’t a stretch to accept how they can turn into a scorchingly hot pair within fourteen days. A few glaring typos and errors in this twice published novella mar its otherwise smooth reading experience. The witches, sorcerers, parallel universes, and magic in Ms. D’Arcy’s world deserve a further look and a literary expansion!

Joan Lai