I’m going to share a secret with you that maybe I shouldn’t, but I feel that full disclosure is important. I rarely see beta readers talking about these things publicly, but I have no shame, and more, I have no desire to for secrets. From the beginning, I loved the idea of this series Juli is writing. What’s not to love? You have romance. You have myths walking among humankind. (Anyone familiar with my writing and my reading preferences will know how much this is my favoritest thing ever). You have a battle between good and evil that isn’t about God and the Devil, which seems to often be the dichotomy that people default to. You have pagan deities somewhat on stage, and they are not the default bad guys. (I don’t mind, necessarily, pagan gods being the baddies, really I don’t. Our gods are not automatically sweetness and light because they are gods, ya ken? But I do prefer folks who write about the pagan gods as baddies to at least be pagan friendly and not use them as so much fodder. When you write about Artemis, try to remember that there are people who have loved and do still love and worship her, even while you make her into your villain. Pipe dream, I do ken) My secret is: though I loved the idea of this series, and though I saw wonderful, wonderful things planned out for this particular book, my first read through that particular incarnation of it?
I wasn’t sure that Juli was still going to keep talking to me after I sent her my notes on it. We run risks, right, when being beta readers. Because the books are not our books, and we need to let go of that, and yet so much about Stacy bothered the heck out of me. I wasn’t cruel or mean, but I am honest as I expect my beta readers to be with me, and so . . .
I haven’t looked at the story since, and I knew that was many revisions ago, and I knew that Juli had set herself up for a very difficult task.
Stacy Macken is at the end of a long line of women born to be stewards of sacred ground. Not every female in her line, but regularly enough that the legends have survived in familial memory. Still, at the beginning of Passion’s Sacred Dance the legends are just that: stories told in the family, quaint tales of bygone days that have little place in Stacy’s current crisis, as she tries to hold on to her museum in the face of foreclosure. Maybe, once or twice in her past, she dreamed about becoming the next steward; maybe she had fantasies about the mythic warriors that would come to help her defend the land she was in charge of; maybe those fantasies got a little carried away from time to time. But seeing her beloved museum and its ties to the history of her family and the history of her Florida town threatened leaves no time at all for fantasies.
And then in walks Aaron Fielding, a man Stacy barely knows and yet — as it happens — is inexorably drawn to. Strange things happen when he’s around, things that cannot be explained away. In those spaces where Stacy knows herself, she knows this is what, and who, she’s been waiting for. At the same time, she finds it hard to believe in the legend when the legend is walking and talking, real as you please, in her waking world, and legends centuries old can only tell you so much about what to expect now. The battle looms large on the horizon, but a battle over what, exactly? And what does she, proprietress of a small-interest history museum, have to offer? Even more, why are the Harbingers gunning for her? Can she trust Aaron to keep her best interests at heart, or is he more distraction than help, with his half answers and disarming charm?
I shouldn’t have doubted, in the least. Reading Passion’s Sacred Dance has been a delight. Juli manages to convey both Stacy’s steadfast conviction and her skepticism, at the same time, in a very believable manner. How often do we want something so badly that, once it falls into our laps, we hardly dare to believe it can be ours–and find out we really don’t want it?
So Stacy finds herself, and she doesn’t quite know what to do about it. Strong, brave, handsome warriors. An age-old responsibility that scares the daylights out of her. A passion for her life’s work that will lead her into danger. A doggedness that will hopefully see her through the coming battle . . .
Passion’s Sacred Dance is the first of what will be a multi-book series from Juli D. Revezzo. (Trust me; I know these things. I’m connected. ) It is a wonderful debut novel, a well crafted story that mixes Celtic myth and folklore with Floridian history, that pits good against evil and holds the fate of the world in its hands. I heartily recommend this book — and not just because I adore Aaron. Yes, I have a weakness for mythic warriors, it’s true. Especially Northern warriors. Celtic is almost Scandinavian, right?