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WesternSFA
Between
by Kerry Schafer
Ace Fantasy, $7.99, 294pp
Release Date: January 29, 2013

This is rather standard urban fantasy fare. Our unlikely heroine, Vivian, is a victim of a very dysfunctional family and childhood; hiding those scars while denying her own issues. She worries that she’s doomed to insanity, following her mother’s example. She clings to reason and rational thought even when faced with evidence (and childhood memories) of the existence of magic…and dragons.

Vivian, a doctor, fears sleeping because her dreams are so real and so disturbing but when faced with two impossible injuries in her emergency room, she has to start thinking outside her comfortable box. She dreams of a man (her white knight) and then unexpectedly finds him in a bookstore. He tries to make a connection with her but she is frightened and runs away. She then decides to find her grandfather whom she had only met once because she remembers him in connection to possible magic and her mother’s insanity. But before she can do so, she is ensnared by a witch and forced to hand over what are obviously magic talismans left her by her grandfather. But the witch doesn’t get what she really came for and leaves Vivian, thinking her useless.

From there Vivian finds a looking-glass land beyond a door and everything she thought she believed in is shattered. She encounters real dragons and knights and the Evil Queen and the Chancellor who hides his true knightly nature, all in search for her mother. Back in her ‘real’ world, her would-be knight from the bookstore has started his own search – for her.

The plot is overly complicated and the love story disjointed. Vivian is a fully realized character but we have almost nothing about the Evil Queen’s motivations – except she wants to live forever and conquer everyone. Pretty standard fare. Vivian’s knights are also pretty shallow. The dragon could’ve been very interesting but the author leaves us wanting here, as well. This isn’t my usual cuppa so it was a bit tedious to get through to the end. I rather imagine most romance readers would appreciate this more than I did. ~~ Catherine Book

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