A PaulB Review: Elijah’s Ghost (A Wizard’s Touch #4) by Amber Kell

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Rating: 4  stars out of 5

“It only takes one event to change the world.”

Elijah's Ghost cover

Elijah Trenton is an average student at wizard school. His true abilities are found out after an accident in one of his classes. He must learn how to live life with his new found skills and the attention of Devin Stewartson, his crush in one of his classes. He must also deal with family and enemies who want to use this power for their advantage while trying to keep himself and his friends safe.

Elijah’s Ghost is the fourth installment of Amber Kell’s “A Wizard’s Touch” series. While you can read the book as a stand-alone, there are parts of the plot which reference past events in the series.

The book starts out in the middle of a History of Spell Casting class, where Elijah Trenton is listening to his professor drone on and on. The only things that make the class bearable are the professor’s assistant who summarizes the class on cue card, his roommate Porter and his crush, Devin Stewartson, one of the “D” triplets introduced in earlier books. Elijah is surprised when the assistant yells at him to take cover, as it is the first thing she has ever said. After making sure Porter and Devin are safe, all hell breaks loose in the classroom, with the professor ending up dead.

Up until this point, everybody has considered Elijah an average wizard at best, including Elijah himself. He has failed to master the basic spells needed to pass his classes and hopes to just graduate and teach Magic Theory, considered the most basic of all classes. When the Headmaster of the school questions what has occurred, it is learned that Elijah is a necromancer. His world is then turned upside down.

Enrolled in new classes and a new tutor hired by his father, Elijah and the school learn not only can he interact with the dead, but is the most powerful necromancer to come along in ages. Because of his strength Elijah is unable to banish his avatar. Devin suggests that they talk to Jaynell, the powerful wizard who lives at the local wolf pack house for help.

Once at the pack house, Elijah discovers that it is haunted. Elijah then attempts to cast the spirit out. Back at the school, Elijah and Devin have a romantic encounter, but Elijah is troubled because Devin did not act the same as he had before they went to the pack house. Porter tells Elijah that Devin is possessed by the spirit Elijah tried to cast out and only killing the spirit will free Devin. Porter does this but the result is killing Devin. Elijah must now go to Hades and reclaim Devin’s soul for him to live again.

I enjoyed how Elijah slowly starts to accept his powers through the book. He has been beat down from family and fellow classmates as lucky to be at wizard school. When he discovers his powers, he feels like a screw up because he has not recognized his gifts to date. As he begins to learn of his powers, the negative feelings are still there even though everybody is telling him how special his powers are.

The courtship between Devin and Elijah was well done. Devin is tentative with Elijah because Elijah’s world has been turned upside down with his new skills and he wants Elijah to have time to adjust. Elijah is tentative because of his own low self esteem and knows Devin is bisexual. An encounter with a girl after one of Devin’s brothers clears up earlier misunderstandings and Elijah realizes Devin wants him.

I enjoy how Ms. Kell brings in new elements into her series, this time including ghost to go along with the wizards and weres. She includes characters from previous books in the series, but they play a supporting role. With Jaynell and Elijah now on board, Ms. Kell has set up future books for a potentially cataclysmic showdown with a future (or past as we are dealing with the paranormal) powerful enemy. I look forward to see where she takes these characters forward.

 

Cover Art by Posh Gosh. Well done cover depicting Elijah, Devin and Elijah’s avatar “puppy.”

Sales Links:   Totally Bound Books       Amazon   Elijah’s Ghost

Book Details:
115 Pages
Published September 19, 2014 by Totally Bound
Edition language English
Series A Wizard’s Touch #4

Books in this series include:

Jaynell’s Wolf (A Wizard’s Touch, #1)
Kevin’s Alpha (A Wizard’s Touch, #2)
Farren’s Wizard (A Wizard’s Touch, #3)
Elijah’s Ghost (A Wizard’s Touch, #4)

A Wizard’s Touch: Volume One (A Wizard’s Touch #1-2)

Review of Timothy (Leopards Spots #3) by Bailey Bradford

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Rating: 3.5 stars

Dr. Timothy Trujillo, a snow leopard shifter, has arrived in Mongolia to work on the Snow Leopard Conservation project working to save the species from extinction. But Timothy also has another agenda.  He is searching for answers about his families history.  All Timothy and his family back in Colorado know is that his grandmother came from Mongolia and that her clan was killed when she was a child, leaving her the sole survivor.

On their first day in town Timothy and his best friend, Dr. Dane Calderon spot a gorgeous  man watching them intently.  it becomes even more worrisome when that man follows them through the streets of Dalanzadgad to their hotel. Tall, dark and handsome turns out to be Otto Marquat, son of the head of the Snow Leopard Conservation Programme and a Snow Leopard shifter too.  Timothy is stunned by that fact and he is overwhelmingly attracted to Otto in every way.  Timothy is lost without any of the shifter history or culture to aid him now that his cat’s instincts are taking over.

Otto Marquat has a job to do for the project and for his family.  Otto tracks down poachers and turns them over to the authorities.  Right now he is on the trail of a particularly nasty poacher, one who threatens the lives of all Snow Leopards in Mongolia, animal and shifter alike.  He is unprepared for Dr. Timothy Trujillo as he recognizes immediately that Tim is his mate, something Otto thought he would never find.  Not only is the timing bad but Timothy is acting like he is unaware of their status as mates.  Now Otto has two mysteries on hand, that of the identity of the poacher and the reason behind the curious naivete of Timothy. Together, Timothy and Otto must find and stop the poacher before they can go forward with their lives, and the poacher will stop at nothing, including torture and kidnapping, to reach his goal – the death of the snow leopards.

Of the three books in the series so far, Timothy is my  least favorite, or more accurately less satisfying.  I loved Bailey Bradford’s characters and  think she did a good job with Timothy and Otto.  Timothy was an unknown going into this book and I feel like I really got to know him by the end of the story.  Timothy is insecure about his looks as he and Oscar (Leopards Spots #2) are the only members of his family that share the same physical characteristics of blond hair, blue eyes and a smaller statue.  He feels bland, made more so by his best friend Dane, a character I adored. It takes Otto, a strong character to show Timothy how beautiful he actually is.  In fact the relationship between Timothy and Otto is based on mate attraction and sexuality in a strictly animal sense at the beginning, so much so that it almost obliterates the plot line.  I like that it is their animal natures that draw them together and not a case of instant love.  And yes, two cats in heat would forget about nothing else for a while but I felt that while it was very hot, I wanted more exposition to go along with it.   Other characters such as Steve and Lona, Otto’s parents and Ganzukh, Otto’s friend and Mongolian wrestler, are equally well done.  But Dr. Dane Calderon, Timothy’s best friend, almost steals the book away so vividly is he portrayed.  In fact he is easily my favorite character, not a good thing in a book called Timothy.

The plot line also gave me more quibbles to contend with.  Timothy’s main reason for his trip to Mongolia is to trace his family’s history.  As far as Timothy and the rest of his family are concerned, they are the only snow leopard shifters alive as his grandmother’s family were slaughtered in their native land, leaving his family ignorant of all shifters and shifter cultures. And yet is he stunned to learn that Otto is a Snow Leopard shifter too? Not really, Timothy seems to take it in stride whereas most of us would have been flattened by such a stunning revelation that here is his journey’s goal in human form. To know who you are is a powerful impetus and I had been looking forward to learning the family’s history.  And yet in the book, it is given short shrift which completely baffles me.  All that is mentioned is “oh yeah, I heard about a clan getting killed, too bad it was Timothy’s”.  We learn nothing!  How do you set up such a great plot line and totally abandon it? And even Otto’s  shape shifter family background is given shallow treatment too.  We get a mystical element towards the end which doesn’t really make much sense and then an abrupt ending.  Timothy asks Otto to marry him and that’s all she wrote, folks, leaving huge holes open in the plot that are never resolved (what happened to that poor boy, why was he tortured, what happened to Dane and Ganzukh, will Otto’s sister ever get laid, on and on it goes). What makes all of this really a shame is that the elements were all there for a great story and the author either ignored them or blew them up in her own fashion.

I want to see who is the focus for the book in the series is about. We now have two continents of snow leopards as locations. We still have that situation with the cougars in the States, and Oscar’s wolf pack but quite frankly, I want to know what happens with Dane and the Mongolian wrestler too.  I am just sorry that  after the joys of Levi and Oscar, their cousin, Timothy, didn’t bring as much to the table.  Lets hope for better luck next time. And please, give us Dane and Ganzukh story too, they deserve it.

Books in the series in the order they should be read:

Levi (Leopards Spots #1)

Oscar (Leopards Spots #2)

Timothy (Leopards Spots #3)

Cover:  Another glorious cover by Posh Gosh.  I wish the book lived up to it.

Review of Levi (Leopard’s Spots #1) by Bailey Bradford

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Rating. 4.25 stars

Levi Travis is feeling overwhelmed during his family’s annual get together with the constant reminders of happy couples and families.  A little time alone in the woods in his shifter form, a snow leopard, will shake off the last of the family reunion hell or so he thinks.

Lyndon Hines is running from his past and a mysterious stalker that has tracked him through many states.  The trucker who gave him a ride has left him by the highway tired and hungry. The woods bordering the road look too inviting to pass up.  Lyndon, in his cougar form, is exploring the woods on the Travis family ranch when a musky aroma catches his attention. It’s Levi dozing in a glade.  Levi is startled as he has never met another shifter outside the family before. But Lyndon is everything Levi wants in a man, strong, dominant, and a shifter. Instant attraction flashes into a frenzied mating.  But afterward Lyndon flees and Levi is left hurt and confused.

The stalker finds Lyndon again and both men must put aside their fears and confusion to come together to save each other before its too late.

This is the first book in the Leopard’s Spots series by Bailey Bradford and she sets everything in place here for the books to come.  The reader is immediately introduced to Levi’s family and their shifter history.  Levi’s family is a large one full of likable and  endearing characters.   Characterization is one of Bailey Bradford’s strong suits and that is evident in this story. I loved them all, especially his youngest brother, Oscar.  Oscar has the second book in the series.

I like Levi too.  His physical body shouts dom while his actual nature is more submissive, something he has never been able to convey to the few sexual partners he has had. Lyndon on the other hand is as territorial and aggressive as his cougar’s nature. Lyndon’s character comes from a background of parental neglect and abuse. The author has added enough layers to each man that they are easy to sympathize with and understand. Both have been raised isolated from other shifters but in very different circumstances.  I can see the difference in histories playing out nicely over several books, including the theme of nature versus nurture in different shifter societies.

My one quibble here is that in setting the stage for Oscar and the second novel in the series, Bailey Bradford has made Oscar such a strong character that he almost takes the stage away from Levi and Lyndon.  I say almost because the blazing hot sex scenes between the two shifters are enough to bring out the fans.  Oscar will have to wait for his book.

Lastly, when I have read about or watched movie/shows about shifters, there seems to be two varieties.  Those that shift seamlessly from person to animal.  You know, one minute a person then instantly a wolf mid-leap (think Twilight commercials). And then there are those Werewolf in London transitions that are so popular as well.  You know, the torturous breaking of bones, stretching of skins, fangs emerging from bloodied mouths sort of thing that takes time and getting naked before hand. ( Reviewer’s note: when it comes to Joe Manganiello’s Alcide from True Blood, the more naked the better is my opinion).  The two types of shifters here each transition in a different way.  Cougars shift instantly into form while the snow leopards are more of the second variety.  I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t going to be a factor in the books coming up as I have not seen both types in one story before.  Either way it is an interesting take.

I am looking forward to Oscar’s story and exploring more of Bailey Bradford’s view of shifters.

Cover:  Art by Posh Gosh. Well, isn’t this just a gorgeous cover.  Gorgeous cats, gorgeous men, great fonts.  What’s not to love?  Again, my only quibble is with the model types here.  Both men in the book are large, masculine and hairy.  Not exactly the body type of the young man in front. He is more in keeping with Oscar.  Where is a truly hairy chest when you need one?