A MelanieM Review: Panther Queen (Morrighan House Witches #3) by Amir Lane


Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5


“That’s panther queen to you.”

When cattle rancher Lenna Alvarez rescues a black jaguar, she discovers there’s more to the animal than meets the eye. Bonding with a centuries-old Aztec Warrior wasn’t part of her plans. Then again, neither was simultaneously facing off against an American businessman and poachers encroaching on her family lands.
With her newfound powers, Lenna is sure the poachers don’t stand a chance. Only, Lenna isn’t the only one bringing strange animal powers to the game. The poachers have them too, led by businessman Ansen Peters. Lenna is in over her head, and not even the jaguar can save her.

Ansen Peters doesn’t want the ranch. He wants the jaguar. And he’s willing to kill her for it.

How to review Panther Queen (Morrighan House Witches #3) by Amir Lane?  Ok, let’s compare it to the experience of going out to dinner at a well known restaurant.  They are a fine dining establishment with an elevated cuisine due to their chef and their menu.  You ask for the chef’s special’s and then the courses start to arrive.  Starting with the first course, you are amazed!  It’s a 5 star feast for the literary senses.

Author Amir Lane takes the reader into Brazil’s Pantanal, a little known but enormous and ecologically rich wetland the size of Washington State,  We’re dropped immediately into the life of Lenna and her family’s struggling ranch, we feel the heat, hear the calls of the wildlife all around us, feel the eyes of the caimans lurking just above the waterline…and we’re there.  We’re feasting on the delicious storyline of strong characters in a loving family under threat in a wild environment also perpetually under threat itself.  It’s a narrative meal you can’t resist!  And won’t!

The power, the joy. the sheer vibrancy of the majority of this novel is incredible.  There you are, eating a remarkable rich and delicious eight course meal.  And for six or  seven courses you’re treated to a aromatic banquet of layered flavors….adventure, Mayan religion and mythology, suspense, and high action mixed with familial love and the power of the land. Oh my.
Then comes the seventh and eighth courses.

And it appears that a change has happened in the kitchen and a new chef has taken over because otherwise I can’t account for the utter lack of energy or color or  lack of connection to anything that went before or just plain  no substance at all. What a debacle!  It’s as if the head chef said, “hey, not feeling how to finish up the rest of the meal, so I’m leaving, ciao”.  The owners, in a panic took some hapless stranger off the street to finish remaining dishes and dinner saying this was the plan now carry on.  Smh! Inset every astonished, gobsmacked emoji you can think of here!  Because what happens to this story next is unthinkable.  You  wouldn’t even recognize it as being anywhere near the same novel if I had scattered all the pages like a puzzle and asked you to piece them together again.

I’m going my reasons under one spoiler section for those that are interested because, again, irritated beyond belief that anyone does that to their own story.    If you don’t have an ending, Well, then….You don’t rush to publish you wait until you have the ending the book and your characters deserve.  But you don’t tack on a colorless, lifeless, absurd, and frankly, meaningless ending as was done here.    You had a 5 stars book that ended at a 2.   I could cry at the loss of promise here.

So here’s some spoilers for those that  are interested:

Anyhow to finish with my metaphor.  Here we are at the table and the check comes. We leave a tip.  Not the waiter’s fault.  But ask to  speak to the manager or owner.  We  politely explain that we lost ourselves in the lushness and variety of the majority of the dinner.  It exceeded our expectations.  But all was lost at the end when the final dishes destroyed our taste buds and made us forget exactly why we thought everything before was so wonderful.  Instead we are leaving disappointed and rather sad.  And won’t be returning.

Sorry about that.


Cover by Combs.  Great cover. Love all the elements and the color combination.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 198 pages
Published October 17th 2018
Edition Language English
Series Morrighan House Witches #3


Shadow Maker

Bad Omen

Panther Queen

In the Spotlight: Between The Lines by J. Scott Coatsworth (author interview and excerpt)


BTL Cover

Between The Lines by J. Scott Coatsworth
Release Date:  July 15, 2015

STRW In The Spotlight Header

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | Amazon |  Kobo | All Romance | Barnes & Noble

Author Interview with J. Scott Coatsworth

You describe your story as a ” present day magical realism M/M romance”, what does that mean exactly?

Magical realism is the infusion of a little magic, or fantasy, in the everyday world, In “Between the Lines”, this comes via the medallion, which allows its holder to “see” the unspoken thoughts behind the words that people say. I love playing with magical realism aspects – they give the story more color, texture and depth.

 What is it about the fantasy genre that draws you in?

I love the total escapism that High Fantasy gives you – and the fact that these worlds often run to three or five or ten books, so I can “live” there for extended periods of time.

Favorite fantasy book or movie?

Lord of the Rings. I started reading it when I was in second grade. I cried my eyes out when Boromir died. And I finished the whole thing in less than a year, and it changed me and set me on a new path.

Were you a voracious reader as a child?

Yes. My mom had these two shelves where she kept her sci fi and fantasy books from the Science Fiction Book Club, double-stacked. It was my own personal sci fi library. Oh, the worlds I discovered there – Pern and Middle Earth come immediately to mind – which still have a hold on me today.

If so, what book or childhood author had the greatest impact on you?

Tolkien and McCaffrey. Tolkien for the intricate beauty with which he built his world – down to the history and language that made it such a complete experience. And McCaffrey for the way she effortlessly melded sci fi and fantasy, and how she could write such deep sadness that it touched me in my bones.

What fantasy realm would you choose to live in and why?

I’d like a cottage in Lothlorien, please. Seriously, I was enchanted. I read once that, while Tolkien was writing LOTR, he “paused for ten years” in Lothlorien. I understand. I would too.

Dragons or fairies or both?

Oh, totally faeries. You can’t sleep with dragons. Unless they are dragon shifters, but that’s a whole other thing.

What is your favorite fantasy element to include in a story?

I’m in love with the “powerful magical object” trope – a holdover, I’m sure, from the one ring, which still has me in its thrall. Preciousssssss….

What’s next for you as a author?

I’m writing a series of novellas that serve as a prequel to the first novel I ever wrote (as yet unpublished) – I’m setting the scene for myself to go back and climb that mountain again.

I also have a sci fi trilogy waiting in the wings. Just gotta find the time… 🙂

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Brad Weston’s life seems perfect. He’s GQ handsome, the Chief of Staff for a Republican California State Senator, and enjoys the power and the promise of a bright future. And he’s in a comfortable relationship with his boyfriend of six years, Alex.

Sam Fuller is Brad’s young, blond, blue-eyed intern, fresh out of college, running from a bad break-up, and questioning his choices and his new life in politics. To make things worse, Sam also has a thing for the boss, but Brad is already taken.

While looking for a gift for his boyfriend, Brad wanders into a curiosity shop and becomes fascinated by an old wooden medallion. Brad’s not a superstitious man, but when he takes out the medallion in his office, he sees the world in a new light. And nothing will ever be the same.

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

It began with a medallion.

The piece was a simple wooden disk, hand carved with the shapes of leaves and forest boughs and polished by centuries of use, giving it a patina of great age.

It sat upon a small green velvet pillow—the kind jewelers sometimes use, rather unsuccessfully, to enhance a plain necklace of false pearls. The kind you might expect to find on your grandmother’s settee, in a slightly larger size, embroidered with “Home Sweet Home.”

Yet there was something compulsive about it—something hidden in the dark crevices of the carving, filled with the dust of ages.

At least that’s what Brad would recall years later, when he thought back on the first time he saw it: the moment when the lines of his mundane life suddenly snarled, snapped, and ultimately recombined into something quite different.

Of course, he didn’t know any of this at the time.

Book Details:

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 978-1-63476-235-9
Author: J. Scott Coatsworth
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Length: 15k, Format: eBook
Release Date: 7/15, Price: 3.99

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.

Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi (http://www.queerscifi.com) site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.


Website: http://www.jscottcoatsworth.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth