An enthralling, well-paced romantic novelette set in contemporary Zante (an island off the coast of Greece), Kacey Sophia's An Artist's Dream (Amazon) follows the coupling and tensions of the deuteragonist Maverick and our protagonist and limited-POV narrator, Kaia. In addition, we meet with a small cast who enrich the story's world. Kaia’s best friend and colleague Evah stands out; she plays a more spontaneous, extroverted role to Kaia's contemplative, often wistful personality. The island is also crucial, with its weather patterns and locations shaping many events.
The setting is so masterfully interwoven with the plot it serves almost as its own character, but given how beautiful a location Zante is that is not a surprise. We are treated to its colours, sounds and smells; we get a feeling of its everyday life and topography. The iridescent blues of its seas and sky, its architecture and landscape. For the purposes of the novel, the reader should and does come to share the characters' passions for this place. Meanwhile, Sophia's prose is consistently tense and dramatic; as an author, she is able to aptly mix Kaia’s internal impressions while keeping the pace of the dialogue and action.
The plot focuses on the tensions between Kaia's attraction and distrust of Maverick, as she is driven to protect her ambitions to run a hotel in the place she loves. As events unfold, he becomes her boss and the would-be saviour of her family's business, but what secrets does the enigmatic man keep? Does his father have opposing designs? And will Kaia's affections be ultimately rewarded?
This is a thrilling and, in the final instance, surprisingly poignant tale of love. One that rightly notes the continuities between sexual passion and our fears of mortality, but with a soft, subtle touch and appropriate hopefulness.