Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Why do readers continually come back to the same authors? Why is it possible that I will read Devney Perry’s romances no matter the subject matter? It’s a simple recipe, I think. For a Perry romance, she builds her roux in romantic intrigue, whether it is suspense, social issues, etc. From there, she tosses in a robust hero, one who usually falls fast and hard for his heroine. To that, she slowly drizzles in a sultry, sometimes quirky, always intelligent heroine. She spices it with a burning chemistry between the two, and she tops it off with the most emotional of happy endings. These are her core ingredients, and they always make a palatable dish of romance. It doesn’t matter its setting or its focus, there is something special about Perry’s storytelling, and her newest book, Stone Princess is no different.
<Spoiler Alert — if you haven’t read Gypsy King and Riven Knight>
If you finished Riven Knight, you know that Presley, provocative, spirited Presley has been left at the altar. She pulls her shoulders back and soldiers on, determining her future without her long-time boyfriend. At the same time, a movie crew descends upon Clifton Forge, bringing the hunky mega-action star Shaw Valance. Shaw has thrown his production company into filming a movie about the murder in Clifton Forge. There is something about Marcus’s journey that makes him question his past, so he wants to make the movie to allow him to play a character antithetical to his typical roles. When Shaw and Presley cross paths, their chemistry ignites, and Presley tries hard to avoid falling for Shaw Valance, but that becomes difficult when, time and time again, he shows himself to be a thoughtful, valiant, handsome man. They both know a relationship can only last for a short time since he will be leaving when the movie is done, returning home. Will Presley and Shaw endure, or are they destined for a short fling?
In considering Gypsy King, Riven Knight, and Stone Princess, thus far, I’d have to say that Riven Knight still holds my favorite place in the Tin Gypsy series with Stone Princess running a very close second. Stone Princess compares in its emotional gravitas to Riven Knight, as Presley must contend with broken dreams. At the beginning of this story, Presley must choose a new path forward. Thankfully, Perry has written her with an internal fortitude that, while your heart breaks for the events that have transpired, you trust she will find her way forward. This is something exceptional about Stone Princess: Presley’s grace, quietude, and integrity fashion her as one of my favorite Perry heroines. She’s a wonderful mixture of femininity and bada$$ery. She can hold her own with any of the guys in the garage, but also anyone in society. It’s her stalwart persona that attracts Shaw. For me, she’s the heart of this book. When her heart breaks (because every Perry romance requires a moment of brokenness), your heart will break for her too. Perry crafts this moment so deliberately that Presley’s pain is palpable. Perry’s ability to invest us in her characters’ lives is the reason that readers return time and time again to her books.
This book has secrets. Perry keeps you suspended in her story because she paces those secrets, even to the 90% mark. NINETY PERCENT. Just when I thought I was “home free” to Perry’s delicious ending, NO! She grabs her readers and says “wait! There is more.” This more turns the tide of her story, and without ruining anything, sets up future stories. This pacing is the reason that you find yourself engaged in Perry’s books the minute you begin reading. I inhaled Stone Princess because Presley and Shaw’s journey feels essential and compels you forward.
This leads me to the depth of Stone Princess. Shaw and Presley are not broken characters, as we often see in contemporary romance. However, they have been dealt difficult hands. Presley’s characterization is driven by her past. While she doesn’t linger there, she never fully reconciles those difficulties, and they cause her to build stone walls around her heart (aka her moniker, Stone Princess) to protect it. Initially, Shaw seems up to the challenge of demolishing them until he makes an error (as many Perry heroes do), and he adds himself to the list of people who have removed pieces of Presley’s heart. The emotions of this reality ground the story. For once, as the reader, you want Presley to be loved without restraint. When this becomes threatened, Perry brilliantly portrays Presley’s strength. Through these moments, Perry uses her ancillary characters to assert the idea that family can be constructed in any manner. The family that Draven has built in the community of the garage is the very family that becomes Presley’s power and consolation in her time of need. Similarly, Shaw’s family is complicated, and he fails to handle events from his past within his family. This causes Shaw to question his identity to a certain extent. When Shaw begins to understand the need for forgiveness, and when Presley challenges his perspective with her own events, Shaw makes choices to remedy the fracture of his family. While not the same message as Presley’s, it’s clear that family is the theme of Stone Princess, and it’s a reminder to us to cherish our own “families” too.
Once again, Devney Perry has offered up a delectable treat with Stone Princess. She stocks her ingredients, looking for new variations to add to new books. It’s her recipe for romance that has me gluttonously eating up her stories when they’re served. She’s a master of the small-town romance, intertwining her worlds and compelling us to care about her characters. And at the end of each book, having feasted on her beautifully turned epilogues, I come away every single time, feeling satiated on her stories. Stone Princess is the dessert of the Tin Gypsy series.
In love and romance,