Sunday night I settled in with a great read – the prologue and the first chapter of Collin Kelley’s debut novel, Conquering Venus (Vanilla Heart Books). The narrative hooks the reader from the first sentence and doesn’t let go, weaving in and out of the past and the present. Scenes shift from the US to Europe, and from waking life to recurring dreams. There is a mysterious symbol, sexual tension, the beauty of youth, and the salty wisdom of a middle-aged school teacher (who’s not as conventional as her colleagues). The dialog is fast-paced and witty, providing dramatic relief from protagonist Martin Page’s grief over his past loss. All this in the first 22 pages of the novel. I can’t wait to read the rest… .