[BookStrand Fantasy Romance, vampires]
Fae exile Amalie Shepherd takes refuge from her nightmare past by burying herself--and her heart--in operating her Texas horse ranch.
That's where the immortal Nick Fletcher finds her. In love with Amalie, he's determined to see if they have a chance together. Now that he’s back in her life, Amalie can’t deny that her feelings for him have never faded.
Through Nick’s care, Amalie’s power returns, making her visible to the Dark Fae King Reiden. With a singular hatred for Amalie, the one POW who escaped, Reiden creates an environmental disaster to kill her--a disaster that will make the worst hurricane's wreckage seem like mild clutter.
To survive and break the past’s hold on her, Amalie will have to ally with those who betrayed her, reach out to those she herself betrayed, and unite her two selves--the person she once was and the person she wants to be.
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance
5 STARS: "I knew with one glance at the blurb that I was going to enjoy this book, but as I started to read and Amalie pulled me into her world, nothing prepared me for just how addicting MAELSTROM would be. I was completely seduced by the thrilling action that came as Amalie's past finally caught up with her and as she finds herself surrounded by strong friendship and unconditional support. Most of all, I was hooked into the amazing romance the author wove as I read of Nick and his unswerving devotion to his life mate, Amalie. This is definitely a book that all romance lovers should read and as I'm still recovering from my constant swoon, I'm in desperate search for more from this author. Amalie has been to Hell and back. I think the author did an amazing job with this book. There were quite a few battle scenes as Amalie and her friends battled against the Dark Fae and creatures, and I was able to see them vividly in my mind. The author was able to include a great amount of emotion into the story and I was totally drawn into it, heart racing. I loved that I was able to feel the fear and rage Amalie felt when someone threatened Nick and the worry that Nick felt whenever Amalie was in danger. The tender moments between them were special and heartfelt and I couldn't help but sigh as they exchanged endearments with each other in Breton. MAELSTROM was entertaining from beginning to end, and there were honestly times when I became frustrated because I had to stop to sleep and take care of other responsibilities. This was definitely a book I could sit and read in one sitting. I adored the characters in this book, each one showing great personality that made me want to learn a little bit more about them. Amalie was instantly endearing because she was a survivor and I marveled that she was able to function after the horrendous things that happened to her. I loved that she was tough, that she was incredibly protective of Nick and those she cared for, but that she also had that realness about her. She had a lot to be afraid of and I don't blame her for wanting to shut those memories away, but she showed courage when having to face them and I loved that she was fierce. I had so much fun imagining her lunging for the throats of those stupid enough to threaten Nick in her presence, and after one glimpse, I could totally see why she loved him so much. Nick … there's really no words for him. The lengths he went to be with Amalie were inspiring and I was in a constant swoon with him because he was just so intense. He searched everywhere for her when she disappeared and it broke my heart throughout the book, reading about the pain he felt in losing her again. He was unbelievably devoted to her and attentive and I loved how he would drop his fangs and fly into warrior mode when he thought her safety was threatened. There was this feeling about it that really pulled on my heartstrings, I can't really explain it but even now just thinking about him, my heart is racing and I'm wearing a goofy grin. Amalie was one lucky Fae to have such a lover as Nick. My review wouldn't be complete without a mention of the three delicious vampire warriors – Wen, Roddie and Burke. Each of them had their own quirks and feisty appeal and as a vamp lover, I was in heaven. I loved Roddie and the way his Irish brogue would thicken depending on the situation. Burke was a constant source of entertainment because I thought he was the hot head of the bunch, it does not take much to set him off and put him in fight mode. I was sad once the book ended because I thought that's all I'd see of them but YAY! A quick look on Goodreads showed that Roddie has his own book – Shadow Play. Definitely something to look forward to. All in all, MAESTROM was a success in my eyes, giving me a great read full of emotion and romance. It gave me exactly what I hoped for and I wasn't left disappointed or wanting. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone looking for an engaging story and healthy amount of happy sighing. Happy reading!" -- Belinda, The Romance Reviews
5 CUPS: "I was easily caught up in this thrilling fantasy adventure. I had to put it down three or four times in order to take care of a chore or run an errand, but I was always eager to get back to the book and immerse myself again into this alternate Texas. I love so many things about the story that it is difficult to narrow it down for purposes of this review. The banter between the characters absolutely sparkles – well-written, believable, at times touching, at times humorous. I love Nick’s devotion and loyalty to Amalie – he is her constant, steadfast anchor and abiding love. I love Amalie’s wit, sardonic humor, even her contrariness, but mostly, what appeals to me is her essential goodness. Despite the terrible things inflicted upon her - cruel attempts designed to mold and shape her into someone else’s ideal - she hangs on, she perseveres, and eventually she triumphs. I appreciate the fact that the novel is set here, in Texas, and many references amused me. Most especially, I like the strange little cat that decides to make its home with Amalie and Nick. This book easily stands on its own. It ends with a cliff hanger, but the conclusion for this installment seems natural. I am eager for more adventures, and I hope to find time to read Shadowplay, the book that started this series. This book is recommended for any age reader." -- Laurie, Coffee Time Romance
Approaching the fence line, I feel his awareness of me—the strength of his intellect and his will are palpable, and not at all unpleasant. More like a gentle caress from a lover’s hand.
I shy away from such thoughts. I’m supposed to be mad as hell. I need to be mad as hell.
He continues to play, damn him. Out of sheer cussedness, I leave the wards in place and stop next to the fence that marks the edge of my ranch. Nick lets the last note fade into the night. I eye the silver instrument with intense hatred and hold a hand out, demanding he turn it over. But he just smiles and shakes his head, putting the pipe in an inside jacket pocket.
His gaze never leaves mine and I think of what he sees when he looks at me—long, white-blonde hair and pale skin; almond-shaped, tri-colored eyes; pointy ears. I’m aware that humans find us beautiful, but I take no pleasure from it.
If all Fae are beautiful, then none of us are.
Nick, however, is a sight to behold. Not just because of his square jawline, expressive eyebrows, sparkling blue eyes, and lips that my gaze is indecently drawn to. And not just because his slim, athletic build and broad shoulders look awesome in the faded jeans, black sweater, and leather jacket he’s wearing.
It’s because he’s uniquely himself.
Since Nick was once human, he bears the tiny imperfections that equate to real beauty. Like the way his sky-blue eyes crinkle up when he laughs and the dimples that make his grin so endearing. He is singularly Nick—not a slight variation on everybody else, like freaking Stepford Elves.
Of course, now that I appear to be the only Light Fae left in the mortal world, I guess I’m the very definition of unique. In the last fifty-something years, not a trace has been found of the other Warders.
“Hello, Amalie.” Nick’s voice is gentle. “You came.”
I want to be sarcastic. I want to be scathing. But it’s impossible to hurt him, so I merely nod.
“Thank you,” he says. “I know this is difficult. I’m sorry for that.”
I nod again, swallowing hard past the sudden lump in my throat.
His eyes darken with pain and he looks away. The full moon bathes the handsome planes of his face in a soft glow, lighting the chestnut strands of his thick, wavy hair. He will remain the same for eternity—beautiful and young. Only the style of his clothes ever changes.
His face in profile, Nick murmurs, “I stayed away as long as I could, but...” He takes a deep breath and looks at me, a soft smile lifting the corner of his lips. “I needed to see you again. To make sure you’re okay. And to see if...” His voice trails off and it’s my turn to look away. The hope and fear in his eyes shred my heart far more than any song ever could.
Forcing the words past the logjam in my throat, I whisper, “To see if I’ve remembered anything?”
He nods, his gaze intent.
Blinking away the threat of tears, I make my voice light in a pathetic attempt to ease the agony of this conversation. “Nothing useful.”
Shrugging as if it’s of no consequence, Nick changes the subject and his easygoing tone belies the shadows in his eyes. “Will you allow me in?”
I give him a small smile. “It’s only your manners that keep you out.”
He chuckles and my heart thaws a little at the sound. “I’ve seen your wards in action and have no desire to wind up in Oklahoma wearing nothing but ashes.”
He gets the laugh he’d intended and my heart thaws further.
“Come on over then.” I hope to sound churlish but don’t manage it. Holding out my hand, I help him bridge the ward so I won’t have to rebuild it around him. Just as I remember, his hand is warm and strong in mine.
“Thank you.” He gracefully slips over the fence to stand beside me. Dipping his head, Nick brushes a kiss on my cheek and my eyes close of their own volition, my pulse skips, my breath catches.
Damn, damn, damn.
I force my eyes open. He’s studying me and his expression is kind.
Double-damn. His kindness has always undone me.
“You look wonderful,” he says, his gaze deepening.
I can’t think what to say, what to do, and cast around for a second before finally looking down at myself. The jeans and turtleneck sweater I’m wearing are standard for me in the fall. Only the color of the sweater changes from day to day until spring. I can’t remember when I ran a brush through my waist-length hair. This morning? Certainly, my appearance doesn’t warrant Nick’s expression. But the night is suddenly warmer, my cheeks feel flushed, and my pulse is skidding along at his admiration.
“Thanks, so do you,” I mumble, which is like saying an exquisite Michelangelo work of art is nice.
“So...” Trying to resist reaching up to touch the cheek that still tingles from his kiss, I search for something to say. “Are you hungry?”
Nick shifts his weight. “A bit.”
Of course. He’s been busy tormenting me for four weeks. Too busy to see to his own needs.
“There are plenty of deer in the woods. I’ll be at the house if you want to come up after.”
He shakes his head.
“What?” I ask.
“Your comfort with my hunting still mystifies me, after all this time.”
“I was a Warder, not a tree-hugger.” I shrug. “Besides, your needs are no different than any other predator’s.”
Nick smiles and his control slips enough that I can see how he’s hurting.
“Go,” I say. “Good hunting.”
And he’s gone.
Even as I retrace my steps back to the house, I feel his movement across the land and a part of me tracks his passage and the quick completion of his hunt. Nick is merciful and never allows the creatures who give him sustenance to suffer. Just now, his strike is so fast that the buck never even knows what happened, never sees the streak of denim and leather moving through the shadow of the overhanging trees.
I walk up the stone steps and across the broad front porch into my house, leaving the door open behind me. Prowling around the living room, I needlessly straighten the sparse decorations and put away the book Nick’s playing had kept me from reading.
For something to do, I light a fire in the huge fireplace that takes up most of one wall and prod the dry mesquite with a poker. The flames catch and the unique, sweet scent of the burning wood is pleasant. It’s autumn in Texas and the nights are cool, so having a fire won’t look odd to Nick. Won’t look like I’m anxious and jittery and struggling to find my equilibrium.
In all the time I’ve known Nick, I have yet to hear his footsteps. But I have my own ways of keeping track and so I sense him coming across my front drive, climbing the stairs, and walking up behind me.
And it feels like he’s coming home.