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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Sun-Kissed by K. Lemay is a paranormal urban fantasy set in the densely populated South Korean capital of Seoul, following the new life of former K-pop idol Iseul. Once one of the most visible stars of the East Asian Peninsula, Iseul's affliction has pushed him to where his every move is controlled beyond even the strictest regiments of an idol. As his confinement continues, the promises he's been made begin to fall away with the story moving back and forth between Iseul's present circumstances and a past that he is desperate to hold on to and revive, no matter what the cost...until he begins to realize that any guarantees made are as changeable as the body he once thought he knew.
K. Lemay begins Sun-Kissed with a slow burn, building the reader's understanding of where Iseul is versus where he was at the time of his transition and isolation five years prior. Glimpses into his old life, one he relished despite its grueling training schedule and micro-managed persona, are dangled between his current existence as a prisoner. This captive state goes beyond confinement to an apartment in Seoul, as Iseul is also held hostage by his body, an appetite he can barely control, and desperation to go back to 'what was'. For me, the turning point in the book was the start of chapter three, when we really do get the first full look at Iseul's paranormal turn and what the true affliction is when his sister, Jin-ae, finally brings him sustenance. There's an emotional understanding as a reader and from the point of view of Jin-ae, and this is when I truly connected to the story and Lemay's writing blossomed. The backdrop of Seoul is really fantastic and comes to life on the pages, as does Lemay's in-depth portrayal of K-pop and the idol life itself, which feels like the best kind of reader immersion.