Aspen has lived for the past three years without any form of ID or any memory of who she was. A kind neighbor helped her from time to time and she found a cash-paying job at the local diner, but since she didn't know the cause of her memory loss, she tried to stay off the grid. When she learned that she could audit courses at the local college (without any registration), she jumped at the chance, only to find that the assistant professor instantly hated her.
But that synopsis makes the story sound a bit too ordinary, if mysterious. Let's try again.
As Aspen was riding her motorcycle, she saw a semi coming her way and was immediately thrown out of its way by a tornado, although the weather had previously been calm. Back at home, she lowered herself into a cold bath, wishing the water was warm, only to find it heating up around her. Then when she had a confrontation with Aiden, the assistant professor, the light bulbs exploded around her. She soon realized, now with the help of Aiden, that she had remarkable powers - in fact, the extent of her powers hadn't been seen for thousands of years.
The magic system in The Lightning Conjurer series is elemental by nature. Some people are able to control fire, others water, still others wind, electricity, or earth. A few people have control over two or three elements, but that is uncommon. Aspen has all five. As the pacing of the story picks up and Aspen begins to uncover what may have been her past and is certainly her future, she is summoned by a powerful agency that promises to protect and train her. But they have their own secrets. Will she want to stay with them as those secrets come to life? Will she be able to leave if she chooses to?
Aspen and Aiden were fantastic characters, both with unrevealed pasts that impacted their responses to the world and to each other. Evelyn and Robert were delightful secondary characters. And the villain was believable, a woman willing to go to any length necessary for power. Although, I suspect we will find a much bigger baddie as the story continues. The romance worked, it built over time.
Content warning: There is one scene where a man climbs through a woman's window and begins taking off his clothes and forcing himself on her. It doesn't go very far, isn't what it seems, and is the only such scene in the book, but I felt the need to mention it because it did throw me off.
Overall, this was a fantastic story, with so many twists I did not see coming. I cannot believe this is Rachel's first book! The writing was so polished, it read like she had been doing this for years. I will definitely be finishing this series.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)