Series: THE AMOVEO LEGEND SERIES
Plot Type: SMR
Ratings: V4; S4; H3
Publisher and Titles: Sourcebooks Casablanca
"Undenied" (e-short story, 10/2012)
E-Short Story: "Undenied"
As of the date of this posting (12/4/12), you can click HERE for a free download of this story at amazon.com. This is the mating story of Boris Zankoff, an Amoveo Bengal tiger and Lillian Cordero, a psychic human palm reader. When Lillian arrives in New Orleans without a place to stay, someone recommends Boris, who rents her a room behind his bar. (Boris is the brother of the female tiger shifter who was killed in book 2.) Lillian has dreamed about tigers all her life (she even has a tiger tattoo on her back), and when she sees the snarling tiger picture over the door of Boris's bar, she feels like she has come home. When Lillian meets Boris, his voice sounds like the voice of her dream tiger. Then, she reads Boris's palm and sees visions of shape-shifting tigers, and when she touches him, they both are overcome by the usual waves of lust felt by Amoveo mates. To top things off, she hears his voice in her mind. This is all a big shock to Lillian, since she doesn't yet know anything about the Amoveo or the mating destiny. But it doesn't take her long to sort things out, and before they have known each other for 24 hours, the two have officially mated. (I believe that this is the fastest true-mating I've come across so far in all my reading of paranormal romances.)
Of course, there is a villain in the story to make sure that the road to love isn't totally smooth. This villain is a purist who wants Boris to join their side in the coming civil war within the Amoveo, and that villain is not happy to discover that Boris's mate is a human. This is a very short story with an HEA for the happy couple but no resolution to the conflict with the Purist. If you want to get a taste for the series, this is a good—and free—way to do it.
BOOK 3: Untamed
The third book tells the love story of the peevish and pretentious gyrfalcon shifter, William Fleury, who is a friend of Malcolm and Dante. In the first two books, the buttoned-down William was a constant thorn in the sides of the soul-mate couples as he disdainfully looked down on his friends for behaving so foolishly around their mates. Now it's time for William to be humbled by a mate of his own—a sassy and independent hybrid (human mother, Amoveo father) who takes one look at what she calls William's "bossy pants" ways and runs as fast as she can in the other direction.
The bulk of the book follows William and his destined mate, Layla Nickelsen, along the extremely rocky road to their eventual HEA. Layla was the photographer on Kerry's photo-shoot in New Orleans in the previous book, and as soon as she and William met, that old familiar soul-mate electricity started simmering between them. Since then, William has been pursuing Layla in the dream realm, but she has been hiding from him, refusing to face him. As the story opens, William has had enough of Layla's blocking him in her dreams, and he decides to face her down in person at her childhood home, where she thinks she has hidden herself away from him.
Layla was raised on a rural farm by Rosie, a human, who also raised two other Amoveo hybrids, twins Raife and Tatiana. Layla is a cheetah, and Raife and Tatiana are timber wolves. The twins have been able to shift since they hit puberty, but Layla has not yet been able to shift yet and it makes her feel inferior. All three feel abandoned by their parents and have been told little about Amoveo history and culture. One thing they have been warned about, though, is that they will each probably succumb to the Amoveos' predestined-mate tradition, and that scares Layla. She wants to be in complete control of her own life, and she doesn't need any snooty pureblood grabbing her up and trying to control her. Layla holds on to this attitude almost to the very end of the story, even though William does his best to get her to understand that's not what mating is all about. I have to say that even though I could understand Layla's initial reticence, I got sick of her anguished interior monologues (all very self-centered) and her constant whining that "I have to be me." William is actually a pretty nice guy in this story, without all the sneering and posturing we saw in the first two books. He is very patient and understanding with Layla, trying not to push her into anything and keeping her protected in the least alpha-ish way that he can manage.
The villain doesn't show up until well into the story, and it's fairly obvious who it is. Needless to say, the Amoveo boys kick into action and protect Layla and her family, so all's well there. The real conflict in this book goes back to the series story arc with the good-guy Amoveos squaring off against the intensely bigoted Purists. The situation gets tense and then explodes in this book, changing everything for all of the clans and forcing each clan member to take a side in the dispute, which is turning into a civil war.
This plot runs its course in much the same way that as the first two books, with the building of the angst-filled romance and the interference by various villains who try to make life difficult for the starring couple. At least in this book the heroine already knows that she is a hybrid Amoveo, so we don't have to deal with the shock and awe that we had with heroines 1 and 2 when they found out that they were shifters. This heroine, though, is so obnoxious in her self-centeredness, that her bad attitude gives all her scenes an uncomfortable, caustic edge.
Book 4 will tell the love story of pure-blooded Amoveo bear-shifter Marianna Coltari (Dante's sister) and Pete Castor, a human retired police officer who works for Dante's security firm.
In this world, the Amoveo are a species of shape shifters divided into ten animal clans (e.g., eagle, bear, fox, coyote, lion, tiger) who live in the mortal world, but are mostly unknown to humans. Only two groups of humans are aware of their existence: the Caedo, fanatic bigots who want to kill all Amoveo, and members of the Vasullus family, who have protected the Amoveo from harm and discovery for centuries. The Caedo are all descendants of Victor Caedo, a human man who was in love with an Amoveo woman. When that woman spurned him for her Amoveo mate, Caedo followed them and saw them shift into their animal forms. His love turned to hate, and the Caedo have been hunting down the Amoveo ever since.
The Amoveo believed that each one of them has a predestined mate. Generally, the mates find one another in the dream realm first and then get together physically after that. An Amoveo who doesn't complete the mating destiny by his or her thirtieth birthday begins to lose his or her powers, including the ability to shift. Eventually, all powers fade away and the Amoveo becomes human—a fate worse than death.
As the story begins begins, Samantha Logan is leaving New York City and heading back to her childhood home on the oceanfront in small-town Rhode Island. Samantha tried to make it as an artist in NYC, but she hasn't had much success, and now she has started to have dreams of home—dreams that include a sexy man whose face she cannot see. So...off she goes, leaving an angry ex-boyfriend in her wake. Waiting for her in Rhode Island is Malcolm Drew, who knows that Samantha is his one true mate. He also knows that Samantha has never heard of the Amoveo and that she has absolutely no idea that she herself has latent shape-shifting abilities. Here is yet another paranormal fiction heroine who was orphaned early in life and is totally unaware that both of her parents had supernatural powers. In this case, Samantha's father was an Amoveo wolf, and her mother was a powerful human psychic, so Samantha is a hybrid who has not yet manifested her powers—always a prime target for the villains of paranormal fiction.
BOOK 2: Untouched
The heroine of this book is Kerry Smithson, Samantha's BFF from childhood (from book 1). Kerry is a gorgeous super-model who can't bear to touch anyone because her raw psychic abilities would force her to read their emotions. As the story opens, the only person she can touch without pain is Samantha, and when they touch, Kerry visualizes a gray wolf—but she doesn't tell Samantha about that and she doesn't have any idea what it means. When Kerry heads to New Orleans on a modeling assignment, Malcolm and Samantha hire a bodyguard to accompany her because Kerry's crazy cousin (from book 1) is still lurking around somewhere. That bodyguard is Malcolm's sexy cousin, Dante Coltari, a fox shifter who has been giving Kerry hot shivers ever since she first laid eyes on him. When Kerry discovers that she can touch Dante painlessly and that his touch actually feels good, she can hardly believe it. The story follows the quick development of their romance and mating, along with Kerry's introduction to her Amoveo heritage. The secondary story line involves a mysterious villain that calls itself "the Punisher." Humphreys uses an old horror story device here as the Punisher always refers to itself by that term—never by name—so we don't know who it is until the big climactic scene. I have to say that I was surprised by the Punisher's identity, but I was disappointed at the stereotypical creep that Humphreys created. Just as in book 1, it had the cardboard quality of a cartoon villain.