ARC Review: Touch of Smoke by Karissa Laurel

ARC Featured Image - Touch of Smoke by Karissa Laurel

Flora Reviews… Touch of Smoke by Karissa Laurel. My thanks to Xpresso Book Tours (via NetGalley) for the advanced eBook.

Quote from Touch of Smoke

“I’d sworn I would never return to Evansville and its misty gray mountains. Those insidious valleys and hollows attracted secrets, holding them I confidence until they festered and infected everyone and everything, breaking hearts and ruining lives.”

My Overall Rating: 2/5

Plot: 3/5 – Flow: 2/5 – Character Development: 1/5 – World Building: 4/5

What’s Touch of Smoke about?

This post contains affiliate links (marked *). If you buy anything using my links, I'll receive a small commission from the sale, which helps run this book blog. Thanks. 🙂

ARC Review: Touch of Smoke by Karissa LaurelMy Rating:
Title: Touch of Smoke by Karissa Laurel
Series: Standalone Novel
on 12 February 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery, Paranormal Romance (PNR), Young Adult (YA)
No. of Pages: 330

Three years ago, Rikki Albemarle watched her best friend die at the hands of a supernatural evil. Certain she was slated to be the next victim, Rikki fled her small Smoky Mountain hometown, vowing to never come back. Plagued by nightmares and knowing she’s the only one who believes Mina’s death was no accident, Rikki returns with hopes of finding answers and holding the killer accountable.

Rikki is convinced the key to unlocking the secret of Mina’s death lies with Owen Amir, the alluring young army vet who once claimed her heart. But the deeper Rikki digs into Owen’s past, the more she’s torn between the urgings of her heart and her memories of him on the night Mina died.

After falling further into the rabbit hole, Rikki lands at the feet of an ancient and powerful evil determined to finish what it started years before. To survive, she’ll have to make a decision: believe Owen is the monster she always feared he might be or trust him enough to stay and fight for a second chance at love.

Source: ARC

I received this ARC for free in exchange for an honest review. This doesn't affect my opinion of the book or influence the content of my review.

Review Format: eBook
Purchase Links: Books2Read - Universal eBook Link

Read: 11th – 15th April 2019

Touch of Smoke is a standalone paranormal romance novel about a young woman (23yrs old) who returns to her home town of Evansville in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. It is a modern tale that would happily sit on the YA/New Adult shelf due to the age of our main character and the content of her journey of discovery.

What did I like about Touch of Smoke?

Karissa Laurel is a new-to-me author. Her writing style is easy to read, intelligent and well crafted. I really loved the folklore and mythology that Ms Laurel based her story on. It’s an area of world mythology that doesn’t appear very often in the books that I read. It was a refreshing change. I also liked the way she used the first chapter to set the scene; piquing our interest and introducing our heroine, Rikki Albemarle.

I think that Ms Laurel’s world-building throughout this book was fantastic.

The town of Evansville came alive in my imagination. The townsfolk that were introduced to us were well described. We got the chance to get to know them and immerse ourselves in their lives.

I liked the way we were kept taken back to the time leading up to the “incident” that’s in the book’s blurb. Ms Laurel ensures her readers aren’t lost by clearly stating at the start of the chapter whether we’re reading something that happened 3 years ago or now in the present.

Was there anything I didn’t like?

As you can tell from my rating, there was a lot that didn’t work for me. I’m not going to list everything, however, I will highlight my main grumbles.

Firstly, I think it took too long to discover the details about the “murder.”

At 29% into the book, I’d still not discovered what the “incident” was that Rikki kept referring to. If I hadn’t known about the murder from the blurb, I still would have been completely in the dark. Even knowing about it, we didn’t actually get to the event in question until the 70% mark. I’ve got to be honest and say that reading the blurb, I was expecting a murder thriller type paranormal romance story. Following Rikki on her dangerous quest to bring the ancient and powerful evil to justice while coming to terms with the supernatural aspect (whatever that turned out to be) of her ex-boyfriend, Owen and rekindling their love through a kickass adventure. This book isn’t like that and, OK, that’s down to my interpretation of the blurb.

However, my biggest gripe was with our heroine, Rikki.

I crave leading female characters that are intelligent, resilient, resourceful and have plenty of gumption. Rikki fell very short off the mark for me. I could never understand why she reacted to the “death of her best friend” the way she did. She frustrated me, with what I perceived as, her modus operandi – to run away. Nobody else in town ran away?

In the end, I felt that Rikki was a bit of a flake or drama queen. Although she’d obviously suffered from a mental breakdown because of the way her best friend died, I felt that we were never really shown how it affected her. There is a sentence or two near the end that tells us how bad it got but too little, too late for me. I didn’t understand why she couldn’t cope, what was she thinking? There wasn’t any inner dialogue to help me understand.

I don’t usually choose to read New Adult, Young Adult or teen novels because of all the angst, thought processes and actions of this age group. It all frustrates the hell out of me and my blood pressure doesn’t need that kind of stress from my “hobby”.

Basically, what I’m saying is…

Touch of Smoke isn’t my cup of tea. I am always reluctant to write reviews for books that I don’t enjoy reading and I must confess that this novel is too YA/New Adult-esque for my tastes; hence my 2 star rating – I thought it was OK, however, it has already received lots of 5 star ratings from happy readers.

So, I hope my review of TOUCH OF SMOKE hasn’t discouraged you. Use any of my links to check it out yourself. Keep reading to find out more about the author.

About Karissa Laurel

Author - Karissa Laurel

Karissa lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky named Bonnie. Some of her favorite things are coffee, dark chocolate, super heroes and Star Wars. She can quote Princess Bride verbatim. In the summer she's camping, kayaking, and boating at the lake, and in the winter, she's curled up with a good book.

signature graphic. Happy reading from flora image sitting on books

Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts about Touch of Smoke.

Bye for now,

Flora x

book cover for Touch of Smoke by Karissa Laurel

About Me

I'm in my late forties, my interests are varied but since menopause hit a few years ago, I find myself becoming a "grumpy old woman" all too frequently - where has my infinite patience gone!?! Lol!
I bought a Kindle in the summer of 2013 and haven't stopped reading since. If you want to know more about me, check out my blog -

(0) Comments

  1. Sorry to hear this wasn’t a better read for you. I think some of the things you mentioned would probably bother me too, especially the ones about Rikki. Hope your next read is a better one!

  2. Oh what a shame! Still, if all books produced the same response in all people, I suspect that reading wouldn’t be quite such a diverse pastime

Don't be shy, leave a comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: