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Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Author:  Erin Kellison
Plot Type:  Soul Mate Romance (SMR) 
        Shadow Bound (6/2010)
        Shadow Fall (7/2010) 
        Shadowman (9/2011)  

    SHADOW TOUCHED NOVELLA SERIES: Cam and Ellie's story
        Shadow Touch (e-novella, 6/2011)
        Shadow Play (e-novella, 5/2012)
       "Shadow Hunt" (e-novella, 2/2013)
        Shadow Touched (contains all three of these novellas plus previously unpublished "Shadow Burn," 1/2016)
    SHADOW KISSED SERIES (set in the SHADOW world)
        Fire Kissed (7/2012)
        Soul Kissed (9/2013) 

This ongoing post was revised and updated on 1/22/16 to include a review of Shadow Touched, a collection of four novellas that tell the love story of Cam Kalamos and Ellie Russo. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the series world-building and reviews of the three novels in the SHADOW SERIES and the first two novels in the SHADOW KISSED SERIES.

                    NOVELLA COLLECTION: Shadow Touched                       

Novella 1: "Shadow Touch" (previously published, 2011)
PUBLISHER'S BLURB: A darkness looms over humankind, lurks in mirrors, blurs boundaries—a twilight world ruled by powerful mage Houses. It is bleeding into our world, bringing with it banshees, wraiths, fae from the twisting forests of Twilight. But Eleanor Russo’s problem is a very different kind of phenomenon. Her dark mirror image is a wild thing, willfully seducing the very man Ellie hoped could help her.

    Dr. Cam Kalamos has devoted his career to exploring the boundaries between this world and Twilight. But nothing could prepare him for the mischief and mayhem of a soul split in two. As Ellie and Cam explore their deepest desires and barely escape with their lives, there is only one certainty: Trusting in shadows is a dangerous game. 

Novella 2: "Shadow Play" (previously published, 2012) 
Shadow: The world is growing dark with it as mysteries from antiquity and legend creep into our time, bringing a new world of danger, beauty and. . .

Magic: Dr. Cam Kalamos has dedicated his life to studying its strange properties, but nothing is more intriguing than a woman whose soul is split in half, one part under her control, one part bent on. . .

Seduction: How can he resist the lure of a lover with no inhibitions and an insatiable desire to possess him? Both Ellie and her shadow want Cam, but there is an innocent child to be rescued from the forest and the strange fae creatures of. . . 

Twilight: Love, loyalty, betrayal—which will rule? As Ellie sends her other self into the darkness, there is only one certainty: Trusting in shadows is a dangerous game. 

Novella 3: "Shadow Hunt" (previously published, 2013)
Unstoppable: Dr. Cameron Kalamos and Eleanor Russo make an unbeatable team—science and magic, working hand in hand to confront the darkness besetting humankind. 

Stray: At the center of that darkness stand the powerful mage Houses, but the brutal murderer Ellie and Cam are hunting seems to be affiliated with none of them. 

Seduced: When nothing is as it seems, and danger meets desire head on, sex can be an act of war. For Ellie, ensnared between the man she loves and the one she must destroy, the battle is about to begin. . . 

Novella 4: "Shadow Burn" 
Because this is a previously unpublished novella, there is no separate publisher's blurb. This novella culminates Cam and Ellie's love story against the background of a war between Segue and a powerful mage house.  

     The four novellas take us from Cam and Ellie's first traumatic meeting to their eventual HEA. Each novella represents a hesitant, painful step forward in their romantic relationship as they work together on several different Segue projects. All of the action takes place within the series story arc dealing with the encroachment of the Shadow Worldthe world of fae magic—into the human world. Each novella begins several months after the previous one.

     In the first novella, Ellie goes to Segue for help with her shadow—not Shadow, but shadow—problem. You see, when Ellie was born, her shadow was born separately from her physical body. The shadow represents her id—her uninhibited feelings and desires—and it appears to others as a gray, featureless, naked woman. The shadow and Ellie, then, are actually one person, but everyone has trouble understanding that fact until Cam comes along and finally figures it out. Physical Ellie is ashamed of shadow Ellie because shadow Ellie spends much of her time acting out sexually explicit behaviors, and physical Ellie doesn't want to believe that she has those feelings deep within herself. The romantic conflict for the remaining novellas focuses on physical Ellie's disconnect with shadow Ellie, her efforts to get shadow Ellie under control, and her need to accept shadow Ellie's emotions as her own. Cam also has some shadow conflicts, beginning when shadow Ellie comes to him at night for sex while physical Ellie lies in her room asleep and never admits her true feelings to him when she wakes up, even though physical Ellie knows exactly what shadow Ellie has been up to. In the second novella, Cam has a life-changing experience with a fae that provides him with a shadowy conflict within himself that grows stronger in the third and fourth novellas.

     Here are brief summations of the action plots of novellas two through four:
Shadow Play: When a magical waterfall from Shadow World appears in the Arizona desert and lures in a human boy, Cam and Elly are assigned to rescue the boy and get rid of the waterfall. Unfortunately, a mage assassin has other plans.
Shadow Hunt: After a rogue mage kills a Segue employee, Cam and Elly travel to the mage house that employs the murderer to take him down once and for all. Almost immediately, they encounter magical threats that endanger them both.
Shadow Burn: The leader of the mage house featured in Shadow Hunt is on a vendetta to destroy Segue because of the defensiveand lethalactions that Ellie and Cam were forced to take in the previous story.
     This is an entertaining set of novellas in which Kellison skillfully creates a character with an inventive magical problem and pairs her up with a sympathetic and caring mate—all the while spinning out action related to the ongoing series story arc. That's hard to do in a novel-length work, so kudos to Ellison for carrying it off successfully in the novella format. One caveat: The first three novellas were published separately (in 2011, 2012, and 2013), so in the second and third novellas, the reader has to contend with detailed reviews of past events. Now that the novellas have been published as a set, the reader can pretty much skip over those paragraphs/pages.

     I enjoyed Cam and Ellie's story, particularly Ellie's fearless, sex-loving shadow, who really livened up the action. I recommend this collection to all fans of this series because the third and fourth novels take the series several steps further into the story arc involving the rise of the mages and the continued creep of magic into the human world. 

     To read brief excerpts from these novellas, click HERE to go to the book's page and then click on the cover art. Once you get into the excerpt pop-up, just keep scrolling down to get to each novella's excerpt.

FULL DISCLOSURE: My review of Shadow Touched is based on an electronic advance reading copy (ARC) of the book that I received from the publisher through Netgalley. I received no promotional or monetary rewards, and the opinions in this review are strictly my own.

     In this universe, there are three worlds: Mortality, Shadow, and the Hereafter. Mortality is the human world. Shadow is the borderland between Mortality and the Hereafter, the place of dreams and nightmares. Ghosts are the souls of the dead who don't want to go on to the Hereafter. Wraiths start out as mortals but become soul-sucking monsters after they strike a hellish bargain to exchange their souls for immortality. Angels are mortals—good people who die and then return to Mortality. The angels belong to the Order, which watches over humanity but generally does not interfere.

     The three SHADOW SERIES novels focus on a small organization called the Segue Institute, which is dedicated to winning the war against the hordes of wraiths that were created by a demon who managed to slip between the Underworld and the Mortal world. Adam Thorne founded Segue initially to house and study his brother, Jacob, who turned wraith and murdered their parents. Each book tells the story of one couple as they fight to destroy the wraiths and fall in love in the process. 

    Although the wraith mythology is fresh and inventive, this is, for the most part, a fairly typical paranormal romance series, with the good guys and gals finding their soul mates as they dedicate their lives to fighting evil. 

     Click HERE to check out Kellison's clever "Segue Institute" web site. Just type in "Erin Kellison" as the password. If you pass the retinal scan, you can access personnel information, a map of current wraith activity, research, and games.

            SHADOW SERIES, NOVEL 1:  Shadow Bound             
     In the series opener, Adam Thorne meets and falls for Talia O'Brien, the half-human daughter of Death (yes, really), as they battle the demonic Death Collector and stumble along the rocky path to love. The climactic scene on the rusty old ship was reminiscent of F. Paul Wilson’s REPAIRMAN JACK series when Jack tracks down and fights the Rakoshi. (if you're interested in that series, Wilson provides a free down-loadable e-book [The Last Rakosh] on his Repairman Jack web site.)  

            SHADOW SERIES, NOVEL 2:  Shadow Fall             
     In book 2, Custo Santovari, Adam’s best friend, searches for his lost mortality and meets his soul mate along the way: Annabella Ames, a ballerina. Both books include a character right out of Stephen King’s The Stand: Mother Abigail, a seemingly elderly woman who sees the future and provides fortuitous advice to the good guys.

             SHADOW SERIES, NOVEL 3:  Shadowman             
     The third book tells the story of Talia's father, Death (aka Shadowman, Grim Reaper) and her mother, Kathleen O'Brien, a human woman who died moments after Talia's birth. In the Prologue, we learn that 28 years ago, Shadowman broke the rules by falling in love with Kathleen, appearing to her in mortal form, and then impregnating her. Just as Kathleen breathed her last breath, she promised that she would somehow find a way to come back to find Shadowman and her daughter. After Kathleen died, Shadowman tried to find her in heaven, but she wasn't there. He concluded that the only other place she could be was hell, so Shadowman began to forge a gate to hell so that he could go after her. 

     As Chapter 1 opens, the gate is now finished, but just as Shadowman is gathering his strength to cross over into hell, he sees a young woman (a journalist named Layla Mathews) being attacked by thugs just outside the warehouse that holds the gate. Even though Fate decrees that the woman must die, Shadowman steps in to save her and discovers, to his shock, that Layla is actually a reincarnation of Kathleen. Unfortunately, when Shadowman brings Layla into his warehouse to recover from her attack, she accidentally opens the gate for a few seconds, allowing a devil to escape. More than anything else, Shadowman wants Layla to remember her life as Kathleen, but he wants to take it slow, so he wipes her memories of the gate and introduces himself as Khan, an artist. Soon enough, though, Khan has to use magical teleportation to get them away from the dangers of New York City to the safety of Segue headquarters in West Virginia, and Layla is rudely introduced to the magical world. By now, Layla is quite disoriented and not sure what, or whom, to believe. In addition to dealing with the Layla/Kathleen situation, Khan has to contend with the angels, who have been upset about the gate all during its building, but now want it destroyed. Khan can't let that happen, though, because when the gate is destroyed, Layla will die—for good, this time. In the meantime, back at Segue, the wraith problem has intensified and Adam and Talia have their hands full. The plot follows the development of the romance between Khan and Layla, the attempts by the escaped devil to kill Layla, and the huge problem of how to destroy the gate without killing Layla. If you haven't read the first two books, you may get lost in some of the references to previous events.

     Khan is the usual tough, handsome romance hero. As Layla gets her first good look at him, she thinks, "He was beyond hot—he was lust-cious....."—a nice turn of phrase. (p. 65). Layla's childhood follows the usual pattern: orphaned in infancy, brought up in terrible foster homes, and starved for love. The story is fast-paced and filled with action, but Kellison's writing can be a bit melodramatic at times. 

                    SHADOW KISSED SERIES, NOVEL 1:  Fire Kissed

     Set in the same world as the SHADOWS series, this book tells the love story of thousand-year-old angel Jack (aka Jacques) Bastian and Kaye Brand, a fire mage whose flames show visions of the future. Mages are soulless witches and sorcerers whose race originated in the Fae. Mages live in Houses, each of which has one unique power. For example, the Terre House can control the earth and can cause earthquakes. The Watts House controls electricity. Instead of souls, the mages have umbras. As Kaye explains: "The umbra is our darkest self, and manifests the power of our House. We don't answer to Fate, so our umbra is unbound and can be harnessed and used....It's supposed to be a bit of our faery progenitor." (p. 281) Mages and angels are bitter enemies and have been so for thousands of years. 

The action begins with a Prologue telling Kaye's tragic childhood story. When she was fifteen, she was attacked and severely wounded by a wraith on what was to have been her wedding day. The attack triggered her dormant fire powers, and she burned up the wraith, but she also burned down her home, with her father and others inside. Chapter 1 picks up ten years later as Kaye, now an outcast without a House, travels around the world making a living by selling her flaming fortune telling to shady millionaires. She is hired by the Order, via Bastian, to re-enter the mage world and find out how the mages are creating newer, stronger wraiths to do their bidding.

     Even though she has been raised to hate angels, Kaye takes the job because she wants revenge on Ferro Grey, the powerful century-old mage she was supposed to marry 10 years ago and whose sister sent the wraith to kill her when Kaye refused to go through with the wedding. Since Grey is the head of the Mage Council, he is the one she must befriend in order to infiltrate Mage society. Kaye hopes to kill two birds with one stone: get her revenge on Grey and get a big paycheck from the angels.

     Bastian and Kaye come up with a plan for Kaye to infiltrate the mages, but events occur that make that plan impossible, forcing Kaye to make some very tough, on-the-fly decisions. Naturally, Bastian and Kaye fall in lust and then in love, although they stumble along an extremely rocky romantic road. Their relationship doesn't have much flirtatious foreplay—no suggestive dialogue and just a few sidelong glances. At first, they don't like each other at allbitter enemies, remember. Then, they just jump each other about halfway through the book and almost immediately declare true and enduring love. Kaye makes some very big sacrifices and crosses a riskyand possibly an unforgivableline in her efforts to take down Grey, and she has to live with the fact that Bastian may not want her back after he finds out what she has done. (Although, since this is a paranormal romance, the reader is never in doubt that he will.) 

     The series story arc continues to deal with the fall-out from the opening of the Hell Gate in Shadowman. More and more Shadows are entering the mortal world, and the mages love the growing darknessit feeds their magic. The Segue Institute is still trying to get rid of all the wraiths, but they temporarily set those efforts aside to assist Bastian and Kaye in their plan to go against Grey. 

     The story line is compelling and complex, with lots of twists and turns. This book could be read as a standalone, but you'll enjoy it more if you read the three SHADOW SERIES novels first so that you have some background on the series mythology. Click HERE to read an excerpt. 

                    SHADOW KISSED SERIES, BOOK 2:  Soul Kissed                    
     In the Prologue, a Shadow plague is released at a crowded community fair, frightening humans and killing mages. Humans have just recently learned about the presence of mages and Shadow magic, and they're still wary of the effects  of magic on their lives. When the plague is released, their fears are reinforced, and anti-mage feelings develop into mob action.

     As the first chapter begins, Cari Dolan is dealing with the death of her father, who died from the Shadow plague. Cari is now head of the Dolan House, and she is overwhelmed by her grief and her new responsibilities. Additionally, she is recovering from her own plague wounds, having been one of the very few mages to survive a plague infection. On top of those pressures, she now has a voice in her heada woman who wants Cari to use her growing Shadow powers for the benefit of the Dolan house at the expense of anyone who gets in her way. Cari tries to suppress the voice, but to no avail. When Kaye Brand, the head of the Council (and the heroine of Fire Kissed), asks Cari to team up with Mason Stray, her teen-age crush, to track down the source of the plague, Cari reluctantly agrees because it will be a way to find and punish the person responsible for her father's death.

     Mason Stray is a human/mage halfbreed, but he has formidable Shadow powers. Because of his human genes, no mage House will claim him, and he is looked down upon as a strayan outsider. For years, he has earned his living as a mercenary and an assassin for various mage Houses. Nine years ago, Mason had a love affair with a House-affiliated mage woman, and that relationship resulted in the birth of a son, Fletcher. When the woman rejected both Mason and the baby, Mason became a single parent. As the story begins, Mason and Fletcher are living in an isolated cabin where Mason intends to protect his son from all dangers, including the Shadow plague. When the Council tracks him down and offers him a deal that he just can't refuse, he finds himself agreeing to work with Cari to solve the plague problem. In exchange for his services, the Council works out a fostering agreement that places Fletcher in a seemingly reputable mage House that will keep him safe  from the plague and teach him to use his developing mage powers.

     The plot follows the usual two tracks: romance and action. As Cari and Mason follow the clues and close in on the perpetrator, they become more and more attracted to one another. The story involves traitorous mages, a rogue angel, and a mad Fae queen who wants to re-enter the mortal world. All of the lead characters from previous novels appear as supporting characters, so if you haven't read the earlier books, you may have a tough time figuring out who's who. By the end of the story, the treaty between the Order and the Council is in jeopardy, and the human world has begun to take violent action against the mages. 

     This is another strong addition to an interesting series and continues to build on the ongoing story arc dealing with the difficulties of co-existence among humans, mages, and angels. The plot has complexity, suspense, and compelling action along with a nicely developed romance that doesn't proceed quite as quickly as usual. Even though the action takes place over just a few days, the romantic development doesn't feel as insta-matic as it does in many paranormal romances.


  1. "Shadow Touch" a novella set in Shadow World was released on 06/01/2011.

    Book 3, "Shadowman" is scheduled to released on 09/06/2011.

  2. Please see question and answer #7 on the FAQ page of this blog. Thanks.