Maelstrom

, by Kt Clapsadl

Maelstrom by Elisa Paige
Texas Fae Prequel

         Fae exile Amalie Shepherd, having served in the centuries-long war between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, suffers from a supernatural version of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The only thing that helps stave off the ghastly flash-backs — and prevent her from triggering a catastrophic earthquake, since she’s Earth Kith – is running her small-town Texas horse ranch.
        Nick Fletcher isn’t your ordinary vampire. Adventurous and outgoing, he refuses to be bound by the Church’s rigid rules or his own Ancients’ dictates. And he’s been in love with Amalie for centuries, although she’s left him twice rather than kill him as her racist superiors ordered.
            After decades apart, Nick tracks Amalie to her ranch to check on her and they soon realize their feelings for one another are as strong as ever. His soothing presence eases Amalie’s PTSD symptoms and her memories begin to return, along with her Fae powers. But as her strength increases, she becomes more visible to the Dark Fae king, Cham Reiden, and his bodach hunters – vile creatures who have killed all but five of the remaining Light Fae still on the mortal plane.
            The Cham has a singular hatred for Amalie – the one prisoner of war who survived his special brand of torture and escaped. Learning she’s grown to care about humans and despising mortals for his own twisted reasons, the king creates a global environmental disaster that will make Katrina’s aftermath seem like mild clutter.
             To defeat him, 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.

Amalie, a light Fae, of the very few left, doesn't remember much of her past. What she does remember is so horrific that she cannot bear trying to remember more. When a vampire from her past, Nick, shows up to win her heart again, Amalie knows it's only a matter of time before she gives in. From her selective memory she knows she left him twice for his own safety, but cannot remember why, so she is absolutely terrified to let him close again. However, as her powers slowly return, the Cham of the Dark Fae refocuses his efforts on destroying Amalie once and for all. She will have to rely on Nick and his friends to not only survive the Cham's assassination attacks, as well as stop his plan to destroy the town she holds dear. That requires trust, something that may just be impossible to give, for she has been betrayed before.

In this prequel of Shadowplay, we learn more about Amalie and how she came to be Nick's mate, as well as how the group came together. While I already felt connected to the group dynamic, this prequel only helped to further my connection to the characters. I was happy to get a chance to see how this group bonded together, something that is extremely unheard of for vampires, as they are generally solitary creatures. Typically the largest grouping would be pairs, and only when they are mates, so it nothing short of miraculous how close this group is. Of course from time to time they have their snags and conflicts, but the resolutions of those incidents only seems to strengthen their bonds together.

I enjoyed the dynamic between Nick and Amalie. While Amalie is also a "damaged" Fae just like Mia (from Shadowplay), her relationship with Nick is very different than Mia and Roddie's. Some romance series seem very cookie cutter and aside from changing names and a few events, each installment is pretty much the same. So after reading this book I'm glad it didn't follow that cookie cutter routine of just rehashing and renaming events. The progression was very realistic, especially considering the pair's past history. There was one thing that surprised me; the lack of the mate bond that was so prevalent in Mia and Roddie's story. I'm rather curious as to why Nick and Amalie didn't form such a bond, as they were certainly close enough. Perhaps it was just a logistics issue since in the past Amalie left Nick several times, and if they were bonded, the distance would have destroyed them both.

This book is more Urban fantasy than it is paranormal romance, and the steaminess is much less than the author's other books. However, this did not detract from the book as the overall plot more than compensated for the lesser amount of steamy romance. Even though this is the prequel, I still think Shadowplay should be read first, as I think it is best to meet everyone through Mia's eyes first. This book was very enjoyable, and I highly recommend it as it only furthers the connection to these great characters. Major kudos to the Author!

(Received from the author for review)

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