2023 Passionate Plume Finalist: Speculative Fiction
Dave Frost died in combat five years ago, but his soul survives, magically bonded to the body of his partner -- a six-hundred pound tiger. Dave can conjure a human manifestation, but nobody treats him as a man anymore. Especially not women. Until he meets Ariel -- his costar -- while shooting a reality TV competition in the Bahamas. The show’s producers have assigned him to the beautiful witch for an onscreen showmance.
Ariel Piper’s talent is strong enough to turn the competition in their favor. Unfortunately, she also has a condition that makes using her magic agonizing. When they discover Dave’s touch kills the pain, he’s driven to help.
Their showmance soon becomes the real thing, though Dave fears she’ll dump him when the show wraps. Can Ariel convince this heroic, wounded man to trust her love -- before the show comes to a lethal climax that’s not in the script?
Praise for Arcane Island (Arcane Talents 3)
"Finally, it’s Dave’s story! After reading Arcane Hearts and Arcane Kisses, I wondered how Dave would get his happily ever after - I’m so glad he eventually did. This story was a terrific blend of budding romance and building suspense - I didn’t know how things would work out both in the reality show challenges and April and Dave’s relationship. A gripping and exciting read."
-- 5 Stars from JennT, Booksprout Review
"I totally enjoyed this story, the whole reality show twist is wonderfully original. The relationship between Dave and Ariel is my favorite part of this story. I loved the ups and downs and feel that this is great addition to this Amazing series!!! I could not put it down once I started it. I Loved It!"
-- 5 Stars from sissyj59, Amazon Review
"What a great book. Exciting, tense. One to be read and reread. Hope you enjoy as much as I did."
-- 5 Stars from Di Kecap, Amazon Review
"Another fantastic story from Changeling Press. Angela is one of the prime talents of this group. Again she has wrapped me up and sent me on a fantastic adventure."
-- 5 Stars from Ken Thompson, Amazon Review
"Angela Knight is a known author to me. I love her worlds that are always so clear and descriptive, making it easy to understand ‘the rules’. This world though was a new one to me. It is the third book in the series but is billed as a standalone. I have read it as such but am now left with a need to read the first two books in the series! This is another fantastic read by this author and one I have no hesitation in recommending."
-- 4 Stars from Moonflower, Long and Short Reviews
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Arcane Island (Talents 3)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Angela Knight
The cave reeked of black magic -- a combination of rotting blood from sacrificed chickens and the burnt metal pong of old spells. Overlaying that was the stench of fear, spoiled food, and guano from the bats I could hear fluttering and squeaking somewhere ahead.
It was also dark as the inside of a bear’s hairy butt, except for a circle of illumination from my helmet flash. The light bounced across Bobby Nolan’s back as he strode ahead of me, taking point. He was walking a little God damn fast, given we were hunting MEEDs -- the Magically Enhanced Explosive Devices the Caliphate’s sorcerers liked to plant. Chances were good the bastards had arranged some nasty surprises in their cave complex once it became obvious we were going to overrun them. It would suck to step on something that blew us into orbit.
So I was less than thrilled Bobby had his attention elsewhere. Probably brooding about the fight he’d just had with his girlfriend.
But then, if he’d been smart, he wouldn’t have cheated on Erica Harris to begin with. He’d hurt her, damn it, and I wanted to kick his ass. And I wasn’t alone in that, either. We all liked our team Arcanist, who was elsewhere in the cave complex, using her magic to disable a MEED one of the Marines had found.
“Bobby, slow up,” Jake Nolan whispered from behind me. We were moving in a stack, single file. “The idea is not to find the booby trap by stepping on it.”
“Go fuck yourself,” his brother snarled.
“Bobby, mind on the job, not on your dick,” Lt. Kurt Briggs snapped from behind Jake. Our team leader rarely lost his temper, but when he did, his tongue could strip the paint off an MRAP.
Bobby’s lioness rumbled a warning growl at Kurt, making the air vibrate with her magic. Kurt’s cat, Stoli, and my Smilodon returned her growl with interest. Because there was a distance limit on melding, the cats rode a helicopter circling overhead just out of Stinger range while their minds fused with ours. Working together, Familiars and Ferals could create a mystical shell around the human’s body. The bulletproof animal manifestation had the beast’s strength, claws, and fangs -- with human intelligence. Which made for a giant combo plate of whup-ass.
They didn’t call us Tooth Tanks for nothing.
Trouble was, if Bobby gave in to his cat’s emotions, he could give the phrase “friendly fire” a friendly fang twist. I looked over my shoulder at Kurt, meaning to ask if he wanted me to take point instead. Before I could get the question out of my mouth, Bobby stopped in his tracks. I bumped into him.
All hell broke loose.
From the corner of one eye, I saw sigils flare on the tunnel wall Bobby had brushed with one shoulder. The blood-red light of a Caliphate booby trap blasted through the tunnel. In that fraction of a second, the spell grabbed his lioness’ anger and drove Bobby into a murderous rage. Since he was already pissed, it didn’t take much. He roared, the sound deafening in the tunnel’s confined space.
His cat exploded into full manifestation right in my face, a glowing lioness sculpted of pure magic, one huge paw already swinging at my head. I didn’t even have time to duck. Bobby hit me so hard, light exploded in my skull with a crack like a tree limb breaking. The tunnel wheeled around me as I went down.
“Frost!” Kurt’s voice rang with horror. “Bobby, you fuck…”
I didn’t even feel my body hit the tunnel’s hard-packed dirt. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move as the world exploded into chaos. Bobby’s blazing cat leaped over me, roaring in fury as she charged his brother.
I struggled to breathe as a single gunshot echoed between the tunnel’s rock walls. The roaring cut off.
“Shit!” Jake screamed. “Bobby!”
I tried to move, but my head seemed disconnected from my body. I couldn’t feel a God damn thing. Couldn’t breathe. Jesus, did he break my neck? Blackness closed over me, and I realized I was dying.
Smilodon roared in terror and rage, but I was already falling into the infinite black. Something jerked me to a stop -- Smiley’s magic. I clawed for him in sheer desperation, and we fought to hold on as death tried to rip me away.
The tiger’s love and need flooded my consciousness as he hauled me to him. We fell into light, and I could breathe again. The air was full of the thunderous whomp whomp of helicopter blades. I sucked in a panicked breath and opened my eyes.