• Heir to a Curse, by Lissa Kasey

Heir to a Curse, by Lissa Kasey

 
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Heir to a Curse, by Lissa Kasey

Book Info

Book Series
Romancing a Curse, Book 1
About the Author
Lissa Kasey is Ace/Aro and NB. Anti-LGBTQIA+ need not read. Lissa is more than just romance. Lissa specializes in depth characters, detailed world building, and twisting plots to keep you clinging to your book reader. All stories have a side of romance, emotionally messed up protagonists and feature LGBTQA spectrum characters facing real world problems no matter how fictional the story.
Publication Date
September 17, 2020
Available Formats
Kindle, KU, mobi
Pages
254
Content Warning
 grief from loss of a mother-figure, mentions of cancer and Covid-19 pandemic, past life violence/death, mentions of anxiety, depression, PTSD
ISBN
979-8682934133
ASIN
B08HJYGV68
Zach is running out of time to save the man fated to be his.

After losing a friend and inheriting her million-dollar home riddled with repair issues, Zach has his hands full. As a construction contractor he plans to make it the home she always wanted it to be. Except every time he fixes one thing, something else happens: fire, damage to the garden, and even mysterious lights making the staff whisper about ghosts. All linked to a historic Chinese shrine on the property.

When Zach catches a glimpse of a mystery man near the shrine, then dreams of monsters, he wonders if grief has driven him mad. But when a kiss awakens him to his past lives with an exiled lover, he begins to realize the only way out is to break the curse.

Editor review

1 review
Bittersweet but Hopeful Romance
Overall
 
4.0
 1st person, single character POV
 Themes: ghosts, grief, past life, reincarnation, redemption
 Genre: MM, Romance, PNR, Ghosts/Spirits

World-Building: ★★★★☆
Heat: ★★★☆☆
Chemistry: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★★
Romance: ★★★★☆


 INTRO
 Heir to a Curse is the first book in a new series, of a new-to-me author. I've had Kasey on my TBR list for what seems like forever, but I've always run out of time or the opportunity to get started. This feels like a great introduction to their writing style, for me.

 Lately, my reading time has been markedly shorter, with an nine month old puppy to watch over, single-handedly during the day. I've found that it leads to a lot of procrastination, when I'm reading. If I'm not entirely sucked into the story, I find myself drifting to my phone, the internet or something else. That didn't happen here. Every time I put it down, I found myself still thinking about what had happened, what could come next, and eager to pick up again as quick as possible, which was a great sign that this was definitely a book for me.

 The pacing was perfect, for the character's personalities and the story that was slowly being woven. It began as contemporary, with hints of a ghost story and family curse, then progressed into weird dreams and odd shapes in the shadows, eventually ending with the full-on paranormal experience. I loved the gradual progression, especially as it gave Zach – the MC – time to get used to the idea of a paranormal phenomenon, and what it might mean.

 The writing was a little up-and-down, for me. I found quite a few instances of repetition, and of choppy dialogue tags that might have been avoided with some tweaking, and some awkward phrasing, at times. Mostly, it worked for me. There were just small niggles that sometimes popped up and made me pause. Example of the phrasing: “when I scanned all around with my gaze”
 The repetition happened a handful of times, e.g. Mike suggests switching to solar power during a conversation, then in a later point of the same conversation, Zach suggests the same as if Mike had never spoken. Also, Montana states that he's bored cooking for a handful of people, but he loved doing the wedding, then later Zach's thought processes theorize those things as if Montana had never said them. It's also quite repetitive with Zach comparing things to an Asian/Chinese/foreign drama. I think the reason the repetition bothered me so much was because it was almost identical phrasing both times.

As the main character, Zach was interesting. A construction worker, who had been left a grand mansion by a woman he thought of as a mother-figure but who was unrelated to him, he hasn't had an easy life. Foster care, still single at 45, and with a history of failed relationships he puts down to being demi-romantic and other people putting unrealistic expectations on him, Zach has some scars. Mental, mostly. Losing Sofia, his mother-figure, is the biggest crack in his armour. Especially when he has uncertain, mixed-heritage and is considered a 'bear' because he's a little overweight. He comes across as a regular guy for his age, with multiple interests and a rather boring life – like we all have.

Jun Xiang was an amazing character. As the ghost, he was mysterious and kept leaving little hints that we could follow, along with Zach. It took 28% for him to make his first appearance, but what an entrance! It was really nicely done.
Later, I felt Jun Xiang was very melancholy and bittersweet, yet hopeful and romantic at the same time. He always inspired something in Zach that made him think, made him hope, and then became something of an omen at times. I really loved how his story – both past and present – unfolded.

I loved the side characters. Sofia was probably the biggest, despite never being on page. I could feel the bond between her and Zach clearly, even though she was dead when the story began. As a cancer survivor myself, I found her story touching, realistic, and understood Zach's grief well.

Addy was brilliant. She was a real support for Zach, even spotting his grief, his anxiety and depression and being supporting without shaming or guilting him. She even supported his whole reincarnation/curse ideas, without shooting them down or mocking him. The rest of the secondary cast were great too, and I particularly loved Mr Yamamoto and Montana, who I hope appear again in later stories. Though I'm seriously looking forward to Montana getting his own story in Book 2.

Sofia gave the story an Asian influence. Being Chinese, with a long family history and a love of her culture, meant Zach had been raised with the same interests. He didn't know much, which allowed the author to teach us a little about Sofia's past and culture through Zach's exploration.
I definitely saw some hints of The Untamed, and other Chinese dramas leaving their influence on the story. The white rabbit, the music playing, and other little bits and pieces. But, it still feels authentic, not a heavy influence or too obvious.

~

OVERALL

I think the pacing, the plotting, and the characterisation came together really well, to offer a bittersweet story with some hope, that was at times touching and heart-wrenching. Zach was a solid character, able to hold the story by himself for a majority of the time, while Xiang was a great addition to an already good story, who brought something new and exciting to the story. The mystery of the ghost story and curse was cleverly done, and the supportive cast were not just slapped on for convenience but truly entertaining and bolstered the world-building and backstories.

I'm impressed with the first book in the series and can't wait to start Book 2 tomorrow. As soon as I finish catching up on my reviews for this month, I'll be delving straight into more books by Kasey.

 ~

 Lastly, I just want to address the elephant in the room – Covid.
 I've seen a lot of (IMHO opinion, unfairly) critical reviews, for the fact this story features Covid. I think we all have to accept that Covid is part of our life now, and we all have to deal with the aftermath.
 Yes, this story features Covid. But, it casually mentions the pandemic as part of our everyday lives: school being online or cancelled, social distancing, mask wearing and getting tested, even “the great toilet paper shortage”. From the way it's described, it's probably placed sometime around early 2020, mentioning America's slow response, testing abilities, quarantining choices and such.
 Zach is a caution character, and he runs his own business, so it makes sense for him to be particular about mask wearing and social distancing. Especially since he just lost someone to cancer. Honestly, I respected the way it was written. I never felt overwhelmed by the reminder, or that it was a cloud hanging over my (or the character's) head. It just...was. A state of fact. A reality. As it needs to be, for the modern world.

 ~

 Favourite Quote

 “They were losing the battle, and so was I, only my battle was being fought with myself over my heart, instead of on blood-soaked plains.”

 “Life was a series of choices. Some of them how to live, others how to die. Most people didn’t realize they were one and the same.”
EW
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