SLAVE is now a full time reviewer for Guys Like Romance, Too!

Please note that SLAVE's Erotic Review is on hiatus to catch up on reviews.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Temple's touch!

Hello, I’m Amber Kell. I’m mostly known for paranormal and fantasy writing. I enjoy adding a bit of magic into stories. If a series on a college campus is good perhaps one where hot wizards, djinn and werewolves roam would be better. Some people don’t enjoy fantasy books but I enjoy adding a little extra to my stories. In my stories the suspension of belief is generally held up by the wings of dragons.

In this world schoolwork is tough, relationships are tougher and most problems can be hashed out over pizza at the local restaurant run by gnomes. I enjoy mixing paranormals in my stories. How different species interact and their different cultures can create a richer fantasy world. No one is the same in real life so I try to give people their own identity in my imaginary worlds. When building a fantasy world anything can happen. Three-headed dragons can be a wizard’s avatar and a shy wolf shifter can get the man of his dreams.

Temple’s Touch is the last book in My Wizard’s Touch series. Where the first five follow a group of friends the last book is about the son of one of the couples. My fans had wanted to know what happens when they all grew up so I thought I’d show them. Although each book can be read as a standalone, reading them in order is much better.

Excerpt from Temple’s Touch:

Temple still had to convince his best friend to join them in the new pack but he didn’t worry—Maddie never told him no. The two of them had been inseparable since Maddie had come to live with the pack at the tender age of eight. Temple had found him clinging to a bit of roofing wreckage after a horrible flood swelled the river and took out Maddie’s home. He didn’t know what had happened to the rest of Maddie’s family and, as far as he knew, their alpha had never found any other survivors. Temple had abandoned asking Maddie questions years ago after a harmless inquiry had reduced Maddie’s glowing green eyes to the hollow-eyed gaze of someone who‘d survived a deep trauma.
The memory jerked him back to the present in time to avoid walking into a tree. At the sight of all the flowering branches his heart ached. “Maddie, you would love this place.” Maddie adored gardening.
Maddie had stood by Temple when he learned he couldn’t shift, and held him when he’d sobbed over not being enough of a wolf. Both his siblings could shift, so Temple had always assumed he would, too.

Although Temple wouldn’t exchange his father for anyone on the planet, that didn’t take away the bittersweet pain of not being like the rest of the pack. His eyes, teeth and hands could shift but a full body transformation never happened. No one knew why except maybe his hybrid nature didn’t have enough wolf genetics. Hereditary traits were a chancy thing and he’d received more wizard traits than either of his siblings.

Temple wouldn’t mind if no one on campus knew about his background, but hybrids were rare and he doubted it would take long before word spread. With his bloodlines and connections, keeping a low profile wouldn’t happen. His uncles were notoriously mated to powerful wizards and although they didn’t say anything, he knew they were hoping he’d find a mate outside the pack. Everyone knew how much it hurt him not to run with the rest of the wolves.
He paused at the bottom of the steps to the Administrative Building. Once he went through those doors, everything would become real. “I can do this,” he whispered.
An image of Maddie’s encouraging gaze flashed into his head. If he backed down now, he’d disappoint his dearest friend. Maddie had spent long hours helping Temple pick out classes and clothes and even gave him a concentration stone. Temple dipped his index finger into his right pocket and rubbed the bit of onyx for good luck.

“Here I go.”
He climbed a few more steps. Lion statues guarded the entryway. When he came even with the beasts, their eyes began to glow blue. Temple growled and the lighted gazes dimmed. “Stupid statues,” he grumbled. Statuary shouldn’t challenge his wolf. Continuing through the entryway, he headed for the door labeled Headmaster’s Office.

Blurb for Temple’s Touch:

This is book six in the A Wizard's Touch series, see the full series listing here

Sometimes true love is right in front of you.
Madison Archer dreams of the day he can claim Temple as his mate. However, when Temple heads off to school Maddie worries he’ll be forgotten among Temple’s new friends. Maybe a half wolf can’t understand the bond between mates.
Temple Stewartson has always loved Madison Archer. Childhood friends, they were now old enough to start their own lives. However, Temple doesn’t want to leave the pack without Madison by his side. So when Maddie disappears, Temple is willing to do anything to get his man back.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Magical Theives!

The story of “The Magic Thieves” is the result of one of my thought experiments: what if magic were real? Not in this dimension, but in a parallel universe somewhere out there? What would a society look like if it depended on magic instead of technology?

That led to development of Tah'Nut, a planet ruled by magic. For millennia, it has relied on those few gifted in the art of wizardry to run daily life, maintain the environmental balance, and provide spiritual stability. But not even magic is a safeguard against the darker forces of abuse of power, and so Tah’Nut was pushed into the darkest two centuries of its history when unscrupulous murderers took over. Now a new age is dawning, and the novel focuses on the events that help bring about a revolution of sorts.

With two main characters, each representing a side of the battle on Tah’Nut, you can imagine how the sparks will fly. Elryk Muyd'omir is a rare lightning wizard, on the run and hiding on Earth because he refused to co-operate with the illegally ruling Xoh'kas family. Kaythan Vs'urr is a Law Force Commander who is sent to retrieve Elryk and return him for punishment. But Elryk has learned a few things while staying on Earth, and Kaythan has a secret of his own. But those are not their only problems. Someone is stealing the magic on Tah’Nut, threatening he entire planet’s way of life. All Elryk and Kaythan need to do is learn to work together, find the magic thieves, and stop them…

What follows is a true adventure, an exploration of the types of magic ruling Tah’Nut, and the discovery of a few secrets, a new type of magic, and a relationship between a wizard and a lawman that is more explosive than either of them expected.

What if there was a parallel dimension in which magic was a real and necessary part of keeping the political and economic balance - and someone was now stealing that magic?

Elryk Muyd'omir is the most powerful lightning wizard born on Tah'Nut in two hundred years and a pacifist. When he refuses to co-operate with the illegally ruling Xoh'kas family they torture and kill his lover. Rather than risking the death of thousands by losing control over his lightning magic in his rage, he flees to Earth - a place without magic. When the gateway that connects Tah'Nut to other worlds opens Elryk knows that the Law Forces have found him. It is time to either face cruel punishment or fight.

Kaythan Vs'urr is a Law Force Commander who is sent to retrieve the criminal wizard Elryk. He is expected to return him to Tah'Nut for ‘reprogramming'. Secretly disgusted with the Xoh'kas' lack of determination to stop the magic thieves, he has decided to win Elryk for his plan of defeating them. All they need to do is find the fabled Magic Shield to prevent further thievery.

Can Elryk trust the gorgeous Law Commander who wants his help? Will the two men be able to work together to defeat the Xoh'kas and eliminate the magic thieves?

Excerpt from The Magic Thieves:

Everything changed on the day true magic came to Earth.

At first, most humans were shocked to discover that inter-dimensional gateways were real rather than the stuff of science fiction and fantasy. A few courageous scientists were sent to explore the phenomenon, accompanied by military protectors. When the first people emerged from the swirling colours of the gateway, everyone was relieved that the ‘aliens’ looked so human. They identified themselves as diplomats from the planet of Tah‘Nut and conveyed a message of peace and an offer of help with humanity’s problems.

After a week of adjusting to a new world order, the human consensus was gratitude. Magic may not have been what most had expected from a different dimension, but there was hope that it might help avert many of the global threats that were about to overwhelm humanity’s ability to deal with them. Everyone thought the gateway’s appearance and the Tah’Nutian offer of help was a serendipitous miracle.

Elryk Muyd‘omir knew better.

The Tah’Nutian government had no intention of selflessly helping the humans save their planet. The price of total subjugation to their will hadn’t been mentioned yet, but it would become obvious soon enough. The cruelty of the current government was the only reason Elryk had left his home planet. He’d refused to work with the illegally ruling Xoh‘kas family. As a consequence, they’d declared him an enemy of the law, making him a wanted man.

His only choice had been to find a suitable planet outside the magical realm, one that was unknown to the Xoh’kas or anyone else on Tah’Nut. He wanted to make it as difficult as possible for them to find him, so he looked for a planet with no magic at all. When he’d found Earth, he’d used the gateway to briefly connect the two planets. Three years ago almost to the day he’d finally escaped, closing the gateway down from Earth’s end as soon as he’d made it through.

Earth had become his home, and even though he’d had to do without his magic, he’d been mostly happy here. He’d never had many friends on Tah’Nut, so he didn’t miss them. He’d made a few new friends on Earth, and wasn’t looking forward to leaving them behind.

Unfortunately, he hadn’t succeeded in hiding his whereabouts well enough, nor in closing down the gateway permanently. He knew that its appearance wasn‘t a lucky coincidence, miraculous or otherwise. It was the result of a concerted effort to track him down.

Now that the Tah‘Nutian Law Forces had located his refuge, he needed to make a decision—accept his punishment or fight.

Elryk stood on the white sands of his favourite beach and stared out over the stillness of the blue-green ocean waves. The sun was high in the sky, creating an almost oppressive heat. There wasn’t even a breath of wind in the physical world. The magical realm was another matter. Now that the gateway gave him access again, he could feel its energies expanding outward. As soon as they touched him, the Law Forces would be able to pinpoint his location. Hiding wasn’t an option much longer.

“You‘re going to leave, aren‘t you?” Parker Stokes was his best friend, sharing his beach house with him and keeping Elryk company when not working as a physicist.

“I‘m sorry.” Elryk saw no other way. Even though the gateway had opened on the other side of the planet, the energy would eventually envelop this entire planet, just like it surrounded Tah’Nut. “When the gateway energies reach me, there’ll be no escape. The Law Forces will come for me, and if they find out that you helped me hide, your punishment will be as severe as mine. I can’t risk that.”

“You‘ve always said this might happen.” Parker smiled, showing the dimples so at odds with his serious demeanour. “I wish there was something I could do to help. For the first time in my life, I wish I was a wizard, not a scientist.”

“I’m glad you’re a scientist.” Elryk smiled. “We may not have science on Tah’Nut because we never needed it to help us. Magic was always a much easier solution. But having seen what science can do if used correctly, I can’t help but think that it may come in handy at some point.”

“You’ll know where to find me when that happens.” Parker patted Elryk’s arm. “I may not be able to help you fight them in a magical battle, but I’d love to support you in some other way. My fingers are itching with the need to do something useful. To help you stop them.”

Buy links:
Also available in paperback at Totally Bound and Amazon.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bringing life to myth and legend.

My story "A Good Deed Done" takes its name from an Irish saying: "Blessings are won by a good deed done." The book was written for an anthology call by MLR Press with the theme of Everybody's Irish.  I love myth and legend and have some Irish ancestry. So when I saw this call I decided to write a story that involved Irish mythology and centered it on the faoladh (werewolf).
If you read about Irish werewolves, you'll find that this particular beast wasn't originally regarded as a monster. Instead it was the guardian and protector of children, wounded men and lost persons. I've written my story purposely avoiding the more brutish and monstrous connotations that are so often associated with werewolves.
At one time legend has it that the faoladh was even recruited by kings in time of war. Under normal circumstances the faoladh exhibits very similar predatory behavior to that of an ordinary wolf, including the occasional night raid on sheep or cattle herds. If a faoladh is attacked or surprised while in wolf form, it will run away because this causes them to shift back into their more vulnerable human form.
I chose to make the faoladh of my story a little more powerful than the usual legends. The father of Ciaran, one of my main characters, is faoladh. I've made him both the Alpha of a faoladh pack and skilled in the art of draíochta (magic). Transformations are natural and easy between forms and the faoladh retain their human knowledge and awareness.
The werewolf is a character I always have great sympathies for. I first saw Lon Chaney Jnr's film 'The Wolfman' at a totally inappropriate age and I can still quote the verse that became famous from the movie:  "Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright."
I watched the movie hoping there was going to be a way to save Larry Talbot. Although that wasn't to be in this film, he found his cure in the film 'House of Dracula'. I've watched many werewolf movies since and find it interesting to so how the character of the werewolf, like that of the vampire, has taken many and varied forms over the years since its early movie beginnings. 
"A Good Deed Done" is one of my contributions to those variations and the many werewolf legends. My story revolves around the characters Conner and Ciaran, a faoladh. Conner is a young farmer who finds that an act of kindness shown to a young wolf brings him blessings he could never have imagined. Not only does he find that there is truth in legend, but also that man can be the greatest monster of all.

Conner is a hard working farmer with a generous heart and a lonely existence. When a couple of his much needed milk cows go missing he tries to find them. Instead he finds that some legends are truths. Faoladh, werewolves, exist, and a good deed done a couple of years earlier to an injured young wolf leads to changes in his life he could never have imagined. Delighted to have such a beautiful mate as Ciaran at his side, Conner feels his life is complete. But another man’s greed threatens to destroy Conner and Ciaran’s happiness.
While the man put out some wooden plates and cups, the woman turned her attention to the pot she had bubbling over the fire. Conner's attention was distracted by a short knock at the door. The man lifted his hand and the door opened. A grey and white wolf trotted in and through a doorway that led farther into the hut.
Leaping to his feet, Conner grasped his stick, barely able to believe the couple hadn't reacted. "You just let a wolf into your house."
"He's Lorcan, our oldest son." The woman stayed beside her pot. "There's no need to worry."
Instead of a wolf, a man came back through the doorway, dressed in similar clothes to his father. The similarity in build, grey hair, and dark eyes was plain to see. Before Conner could speak again, there was another knock, and once again the man raised his hand and the door opened.
A second wolf trotted in. Unthinkingly, Conner took a few steps toward it. "Is it you, my handsome boy?" The wolf was young, and with its amber eyes and black fur, it may have been the wolf cub he'd helped.
"Sit you down." The woman's hand on his shoulder pulled Conner back to the present. "That's Ciaran. He'll be through in a moment."
Sure enough, the wolf trotted through the doorway and a moment or two later, a young, dark-haired young man came out. He gazed at Conner. "He knows me. I said he would."
"That you did, my son." The man came to stand beside him. "But then you were far too young to take a mate."
"You were the wolf I rescued." Conner stared at Ciaran. "But it's as though I've seen your face before. Yet I'm sure I'd never forget such a dathúil young man had I seen you."
"I was considered too young to claim you as mate. Once we mate, there can be no other for me. I am faoladh. Werewolf. In times gone by, my ancestors fought alongside kings. Today we remain hidden, guarding man as best we can." Ciaran stepped closer to Conner. "I used to watch you sitting in front of the fire. I knew you were my mate."
His hand shaking, Conner reached out and let his fingers trail over Ciaran's cheek. "When I saw a face in the flames, I thought it was my imagination, but I felt less alone. No one I've ever met before has stirred my blood the way you do."