A welcome new addition to the Cambio Springs series
After a looooong eight-year gap, Elizabeth Hunter has written another Cambio Springs book, and I, for one, am quite happy she has. Like the other books in the series, Dust Born is a smooth-reading blend of mystery, romance, and urban fantasy. Although, if we’re honest, the fantasy isn’t actually very “urban” – it’s really more like “small-desert-town” fantasy. But either way, it’s a lot of fun!
Snake-shifter Sean Quinn is one of the few in his rather shady reptile-shifter clan to make good in the outside world, having worked his way up to a career as an internationally-known photojournalist. And he also just happens to have a bit of a thing for non-shifter Juniper Hawkins, who may have a bit of a thing for him too. Juni started off as his assistant, and thus was off-limits, but has now built quite a reputation for herself as well. And somehow they keep running into each other around the world: in Thailand, India, Kenya…
However, when Sean has to head back to Cambio Springs to shoulder family responsibilities, he feels that any chance of a real relationship is over before it has a chance to get started. Or would be over, except for the odd coincidence that Juni’s half-brother is the town’s police chief – and she decides to show up for a nice long visit. The two don’t have much chance to sort out whatever it is that they may (or may not) have going right away, though, because Cambio Springs is being threatened by some rather odd crooks, whose leader seems to bear an almost personal animus for the town. Are there mysterious secrets from the past causing the trouble? Or might it be something more recent? You’ll have to read the book to find out. And of course, to find out what happens with Sean and Juni.
I happily tore through Dust Born in two quick sessions, and enjoyed it all: the characters, the story, and the writing. Although it’s mostly a light-hearted story, and there are a lot of laugh-out-loud scenes, Dust Born is not pure cotton candy. There are a few serious moments that add a little heft, exploring an individual’s obligations to their family, and the family’s obligations in return. In my opinion this is a good thing – a straight-sugar diet isn’t very nutritious, after all. And finally, as a side note, there was a teeny bit more steam than is quite to my taste, but it was easy enough to cruise over fast, so not a big deal.
Dust Born is out tomorrow, October 24, 2023, and I highly recommend it. And although the author seems to indicate in the afterword that no more full-length Cambio Springs titles are coming, at least any time soon, I hope it’s well enough received that she changes her mind. So go buy it, or read it with Kindle Unlimited if you have a subscription. Oh yeah, and my thanks to the author for the advance review copy!