Title: Labours of Stone
Author: EM Harding
Length: 164 Pages
Rating: 4 Stars
At a Glance: Labours of Stone is one of those happy little accidental finds: a quick, sweet summer read that I’m glad I happened upon.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Day after day, Ephra Stone labours away on trashy romance novels he can’t stand for his nightmarishly pink-obsessed publisher, Halwyn Tân. Ephra’s trapped in a five-book deal from hell and it never seems to end; there’s always one more book to go, one more trope to mangle. And the worst part of it all?
Ephra himself has never been in love.
Every time he catches a whiff of romance, plans mysteriously go awry, dates suddenly have to move away, and Ephra finds himself hopelessly alone again. It’s as if the universe itself has been conspiring against his love life.
That is until, one fateful day, a little birdy leads the way … right into the arms of Ron Brook: sun-kissed god, possible millionaire, and guardian to the world’s most intelligent not-a-dog.
On paper, their relationship makes great material for Ephra’s next romance novel. At least Ephra thinks so. And for once, he’s actually enjoying his writing.
But not everyone is on board with Ephra’s new-found happiness, and Ephra might have to battle more than just some vapid publisher to keep hold of it.
Review: EM Harding’s Labours of Stone is a delightfully charming novel with some clever twists that keeps it from falling into the boilerplate Romance category . . . unlike the Romance novels Ephra Stone pens and that his publisher forces him to submit on demand—or else. Their “Money-maker” must abide by the terms of his contract, after all, or they’ll demand he refund his advance. So he changes the characters’ names and keeps churning out the same story in book after book, voracious readers keep eating them up, and he longs for the day his obligation to all of them them is fulfilled and he can quit writing about other people falling in love. Something Ephra has never even experienced himself, and is starting to believe he never will.
Halwyn Tân is the antagonist in the story, which becomes obvious from the moment he is introduced. He oozes an oily solicitousness while subtly intimidating and threatening Ephra, Halwyn attempting to convince Ephra that he only has his Money-maker’s best interest at heart . . . seeing as how he’s Ephra’s one and only friend and all. I love when authors write stories about characters being authors themselves, thinking it must be a bit cathartic and a little like validation to provide someone else with the words to explain what it’s like—the agony and the extasy—to sit down and create something from nothing but a glimmer of an idea. It also must have been a little satisfying to write Ephra and Halwyn’s final showdown as well. I know I enjoyed reading it.
This is a romance, though, and there obviously can’t be romance without a love interest. Ephra meets his in a particularly interesting and unexpected way. Where Ephra is the smidge of grumpy in the story, Ron Brook is the sunshine, at least most of the time. It’s when Ephra and Ron start spending time together that EM Harding begins to sprinkle little clues and hints here and there that let readers know there’s something a bit different, something out of the ordinary about these two men, which gives Labours of Stone a fresh twist on many of the familiar things we read this genre for.
Labours of Stone is one of those happy little accidental finds: a quick, sweet summer read that I’m glad I happened upon.
You can buy Labours of Stone here:
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1 thought on “Review: Labours of Stone by EM Harding”
Just finished reading this per your recommendation.
You’re right. It is a delightful summery read.
(With a great snake character.)