Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor could be described as both a romance and a fantasy, neither of which I enjoy reading. I did like it, though, and I think it might be because this story also has elements of mystery. What happened? Who is the main character, Karou? Why is the guy with the wings always hanging around her?
Recently I read about story secrets, and this story has three good ones that I'm aware of. Two I wasn't even thinking about, they just hit me, and a third I realized was a secret but I was wrong about what the secret was.
Karou is a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague. She, a human, was raised in an alternative world by four creatures who physically would be considered monsters. She moves back and forth between the human world and her "family's" magical one, often called by Brimstone, a father figure, who sends her on errands to collect teeth. Soon after being attacked by a beautiful stranger with wings, she's cut off from Brimstone and her other loved ones. Her plan is to get back into her old world and find her family.
A couple of factors make this more than a traditional boy-meets-girl story. For one thing, Karou has a journey thing going apart from the romance. For another, she's a person whose identity is unknown to herself and us and slowly revealed to both character and reader.
This was one of those books that became distressing as I approached the end because I realized that it was going "to be continued," as it says on the last page. It's the first in a projected trilogy. Quite honestly, though, I would have been fine with the ending of this book being all we get.
Plot Project: I most definitely think this is a disturbance story rather than a think-up-a-problem-to-lay-on-a-character story. Karou straddles two worlds--one of them is then shut off to her. That is a first-class disturbance. It gives an author all kinds of opportunities to ask and answer questions. Then you've got the business about the mysterious flying stranger showing up. Again, classic disturbance. It is at the point where these two things happen that the story action actually begins.