My review of Ann Gimpel's, dystopian urban fantasy series...Soul Storm.
Publisher: Dream Shadow Press
Release Date: 12/11/14
Genre: Urban Fantasy
When the dream world spills its murky contents, everyone’s worst nightmares run free.
Dr. Lara McInnis reads auras and flirts with an elusive ability to foretell the future. Ambivalent about the magic within her, she’s done a fine job ignoring other aspects of her power—until now. After several patients—and a student or two—describe the same cataclysmic dream, she uncovers ancient evil intent on draining her power. Lara knows next to nothing about her psychic side, but it will destroy her if she can’t come to terms with it.
Trevor Denoble has secrets, but he shields them well with a stunning body and a boatload of British charm. The airline he works for folds because there’s no fuel for the planes, and Lara’s changing into someone he barely recognizes. Though he doesn’t know it yet, the rest of his carefully crafted life is about to come crashing down too.
Living in a world teetering on the edge of anarchy, Trevor and Lara are faced with a series of painful decisions. Is the love between them enough for Trevor to swallow his distrust of Lara’s burgeoning paranormal ability? Will their personal demons tear them apart in a world gone mad, as shortages of everything from electricity to food escalate?
Book Trailer http://youtu.be/H2mtTvxkrT4
Excerpt Dark Prophecy:
…Hours later, Lara let herself out of her office, reached back in to activate the alarm, and then locked the door behind her. Arabel had gone home at six. Normally her receptionist left a note if there was something she needed to communicate. Tonight there hadn’t been any notes because there weren’t any patients she needed to call. But there had been a few zucchinis from Arabel’s lovingly-tended garden. Lara was grateful, both for the organic produce and for the lack of patient-related affairs to attend to. She was tired and hoped nobody had a crisis that evening.
She double-checked the pager that lived clipped to her belt. As she moved away from the front door of her building, she stumbled. The outside light was out—when had that happened?—and it was very dark in the shadows of the cavernous front porch. She made a grab for the railing to steady herself and took a tentative step toward the street.
“Stop right there,” a familiar harsh voice boomed from behind her.
“Mr. Beauchamp. That is you, isn’t it?” Alarm ricocheted through her, but she knew intuitively it was important to hide her fear. “What do you want?” Though she aimed for nonchalance, her voice sounded thin and shaky. Is it Ken? Aw, Jesus, who else could it be? She closed her eyes, gathering data from an unseen realm she knew well. Once her energies were focused, she discerned his twisted energy field throbbing against the darkness. Better the devil you know flashed through her mind. Not necessarily came close on its heels, as she realized, with a sinking feeling, that Ken Beauchamp really was dangerous. She’d known it the first time he walked into her office, but drawn in by his wife’s soft helplessness, she’d ignored her concerns, compassion overriding common sense.
“I want to talk. No, don’t turn around.” The man’s voice held menace as it sliced into her tumbling thoughts.
“What do you want to talk about, Mr. Beauchamp?” With effort, she kept her voice steady. “Surely whatever it is can wait until tomorrow. You really do need to call my office and make an appointment.” There, that seems like about the right amount of bravado.
“What did you tell my wife today? When you were in the bathroom. You’d better tell me the truth.”
“Are you threatening me? Because if you are, I’ll call the cops and have you thrown off my property.” Anger was rapidly displacing her fear—or at least coexisting with it. She reached a hand into her bag in search of her phone.
“That wouldn’t be smart, Doc, not very smart at all. Take your hand out of that purse.”
Ken Beauchamp’s voice was mild, but an ominous undertone chilled her. Sweat gathered in her armpits and dripped down her sides. Think! she commanded herself. There’s got to be a way out of this.
“Well, Doctor?” Ken’s voice oozed sarcasm, with undercurrents of something darker and far more primal. “I asked you a simple question. Answer it and we can both go home.”
What was he doing? Lara dug deeper with her hyper-honed senses. His breathing seemed…uneven. Was he getting off by intimidating her?
Something clicked ominously. The snick of a gun’s safety mechanism? What else could that cold metallic snapping sound possibly be? Fighting fear that threatened to paralyze her, Lara asked, “How’s Bethany, Mr. Beauchamp? She’s all right isn’t she?” Despite her concerns for herself, Lara was suddenly frantic about Bethany.
“That’s none of your business anymore. We won’t be back. I just want to know what you told her today.”
“Why is that important to you?”
“I ask the questions around here.” Yes, Lara thought as she listened intently, he was practically panting. Oh shit, this guy’s a pervert on top of all his other less-than-stellar attributes. She flirted with flying down the porch steps and trying to outrun him, except she had dress shoes on and her heavy shoulder bag. What if he really did have a gun? She hadn’t heard the metal click again.
A car pulled to the curb in front of her building and she started, heart beating like a mad thing. Christ, is it one of his henchmen come to help out? Practically moaning aloud, she wondered what Ken Beauchamp had in mind for her…
Dream Shadow Press
Release Date: 12/30/14
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Old blood and ancient power pit themselves against evil so dark, deep, and menacing it changes everyone who comes into contact with it. And not for the better.
Widespread rioting, plus shortages of fuel, food, and electricity lure demons across the veil to invade Earth. Drawn by anarchy, they’re out of control, drunk on their own power, and growing stronger by the day.
With her life crumbling around her, Dr. Lara McInnis is reluctantly roped into channeling her unpredictable psychic talents to help a detective who saved her from a psychopathic killer. Problem is, she’s still quite the neophyte in terms of either summoning her magic, or bending it to do much of anything. Her lack of skill strands her in the murky underbelly of a world inhabited by dark forces.
Trevor Denoble may not be psychic, but his old blood gives him gifts as well. After years of uncertainty, Lara is really and truly finally his. He’s determined to keep her by his side, but she refuses to cooperate. The detective’s daughter is trapped in darkness, and Lara insists on going after her—to a place barred to Trevor. Not to be denied, he latches onto his Celtic blood and uncovers latent power. No stranger to violence, more blood on his hands is a small price to pay to keep the woman he loves safe.
Excerpt Dark Pursuit:
…Fingers hesitant on the keypad—the last thing she needed was another snag in a life that already felt way too complicated—Lara entered the number. Seconds later, Detective Brad Archer’s familiar voice answered, “Archer here. That you, Lara?”
“Yes,” she replied. Normally, she’d have asked what he needed, but a part of her didn’t want to know. Detective Archer had shot and wounded Ken Beauchamp, setting a string of events into play that led to the man’s eventual capture. Since Beauchamp was dead, Lara assumed Archer must want something from her—and pretty badly to call at such an ungodly hour.
There was a pause, typical of what law enforcement officers did when they thought they might have a reluctant recruit on the other end of the phone. Lara’s stomach tightened, and she relaxed her grip on the phone because her hand was cramping.
“I—I’m calling to ask a favor, Dr. McInnis,” he began formally.
She girded herself for whatever the request might be. Trev and I owe him big time. If it’s a favor, I’ll have to at least try to help, even though I’m so overwhelmed with everything else I’m drowning.
“It’s my daughter, Adriana,” Brad choked out, anguish blasting through the phone lines. “Lara—she’s missing.”
“That’s terrible! What happened?” Shocked by his revelation, she sat up straighter in bed. More than that, though, she was confused why he was calling her. “Don’t you have an entire fleet of officers who hunt for missing persons?”
“Yes, we do. Even a couple psychics. That’s the problem, Doctor, uh, Lara. Even with all that, they’ve been hunting for her for almost a week and haven’t found a single lead.”
“How old is she?” Lara asked. Warnings rained from her psychic side, but she ignored them.
“Seventeen.” Archer’s voice was about an octave too high and strained.
“Maybe it’s not as bad as you think,” Lara suggested gently. “After all, teenagers are notorious for this sort of thing. Are you certain she didn’t run off with some boy? Or that she’s not holed up with a girlfriend? Did you or your wife have a fight with her?”
“No fights, but I’m not sure about either of the other two,” Brad admitted. “Look, Lara, I know you’re busy, but I could really use your, ah, special abilities to help me.” He sighed heavily, and his breath whistled from between what sounded like clenched teeth. “There’s not even a fucking clue, Doctor. Not one. My men have worked this thing to within an inch of its life.”
Tormented words tore out of him. “Her car’s disappeared, which isn’t all that unusual in kidnapping cases, but so have her motor vehicle and school records. Whatever happened to her, it wiped her off the face of the Earth. Christ, her hospital birth records don’t even exist anymore. And my wife…” He stopped, obviously struggling for control. “She’s been sedated for the past three days. When she wakes up, she starts screaming. Adriana was…is our only child.”
Lara closed her eyes. The amulet hanging around her neck pricked unpleasantly. So there’s magic involved here.
“Yes, I’m still here. I’m thinking.”
“Please.” The single word held all the angst of a man caught in an ever-tightening web.
“Okay, I’ll meet you wherever you want around noon.”
“I’ll come to you,” he said quickly. “Your office?”
“Yes,” she replied. “If you brought lunch, we could eat while we work.”
“No problem,” Archer replied. “Thanks, Lara.” Before he rang off, she heard him crying, sobbing actually, in great, gulping gasps. More than anything, that gave her pause. He was tough, a twenty year veteran of the police force. Her fears about what she’d just agreed to skyrocketed when the amulet—with its uncanny sensitivity to psychic events—radiated disapproval by sending waves of bitter cold against her skin…
By Ann Gimpel
Dream Shadow Press
Release Date: 1/29/15
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Some choices can never be undone.
Lara and Trevor flee Seattle in the wake of rising chaos. Like raptors drawn to road kill, demons converge on what’s left of civilization, urging it to implode even faster.
In this final book of the Soul Storm series, Lara and Trevor’s relationship undergoes stresses that threaten to annihilate them. Constantly hungry, besieged by dark forces, they need every resource they’ve developed as a couple to keep from ripping each other apart. With her mentors snared in a chokehold by Goblins, Lara has only her half-baked magic standing between survival and certain death for herself, her love, and their unborn child.
The remote location that was supposed to solve all their problems has done anything but. Though she works diligently, Lara’s crash course in magic proves woefully inadequate. Trevor’s determined to protect his family, but he’s developed a decidedly haunted edge from all the carnage.
When he’s captured by demons, Lara curses their decision to leave Seattle, risks everything to go after him, and falls headlong into a cunningly crafted trap.
Excerpt Dark Promise:
…Trevor let himself out the kitchen door, Brad’s Heckler and Koch tucked under his arm. In a distant corner of his brain, he thought he must be mad to march off to face Christ-only-knew-what with a weapon he’d never fired before. Feels like it did the night I snuck out into the dark to see who had the night vision lamp. This gun didn’t do shit when Brad fired it that night. Not against Goblins. With memories swamping him, Trevor felt ill. He tightened his grip on the gun’s stock, and his breath came way too fast as he scanned the yard for movement.
The only reason he’d survived that other night was because a goddess had intervened. He didn’t figure he’d be that lucky twice. Besides, the supernatural creatures seemed to have other things on their minds. He’d cornered Elidora a couple days before to ask what was wrong. The Carlisle witch-woman mumbled something cryptic in Celtic Gaelic. Trying to decipher it after she left, he wondered if the Dreaming might not be under Demon attack.
Standing on the bottom step, with the comforting bulk of the house behind him, Trevor tried reaching out with all his senses. At first, the frantic beat of his heart drumming in his ears overwhelmed everything else. He forced himself to take some steadying breaths. Somewhere between them, he caught a sense of something not quite right, and the fine hairs on the nape of his neck quivered. He peered anxiously around the familiar yard, illuminated by strands of sunlight peeking through fluffy clouds. Nothing moved. In an effort to be methodical, he shifted his gaze from left to right, then back again.
Is something hiding in the trees? That’s what they did last time. A vision of the Goblin that had jumped Brad rose unbidden, and Trevor bit hard on his lower lip. “No Goblins,” he mumbled. “They haven’t been here since that night. No reason they should come back.”
Bolstered somewhat by the sound of his own voice, he straightened his back, seeking courage to move away from the house. None of the animals were making any unusual noises like they would if they were frightened. Whatever had stirred up the goats before must have left. He checked the safety—clicking it off with fingers that weren’t as steady as he might have liked—and patted his pocket for the spare magazines Brad had shoved into his hand, the last of the ammunition for the automatic rifle.
“Best get moving,” he muttered, striding purposefully across the yard. He glanced from side to side to reassure himself no one else was there. Deciding to check the barn first, since it was closest to the house, he altered course. When he got there, he unlatched the door and pushed it open.
“Mary, mother of God,” he gasped and fell back a step, as he took in a scene out of the nine levels of Dante’s Inferno. Something—or someone—had slaughtered the goats. Blood was everywhere. The floor was slick with it, and it blotched the walls. Nausea roiled through him. Trevor struggled not to vomit. A muted bleat came from somewhere. As he sought its source, a kid crept from under one of the corpses mewling piteously.
“Poor thing.” Trevor reached down to stroke the small creature. It shook as it nuzzled his hand. He wondered how it had escaped, then realized its mother must have thrown herself atop her child. The reality of what the carnage meant hit home. He tasted fear, bitter and acrid. A metallic taste filled his mouth, burning its way deep into his soul.
Goblins. There are Goblins here. There must be. No animal could have done this and latched the door behind him.
Trevor’s head snapped up. He felt sure he heard something, its feet slogging through the mud. Lurching to the still-open barn door, he opened fire, swinging the weapon in a broad swath, while trying to avoid firing directly at the house. He still didn’t see anything, but he knew in his guts he wasn’t alone. Hadn’t been since he set foot in the yard. That was why he felt so odd. He fired another burst, hoping against hope to hit something.
A shriek, and then another, assailed him. It sounded like someone was being murdered five feet away. He twisted wildly from side to side, but didn’t see a thing. His mind rebelled at the contradiction. He lunged to pick up the kid and make a run for the house, but something closed about him from behind. Panting hot and fast, he swung the gun barrel sideways to hit whatever was there, but didn’t have enough reach.
Laughter brayed. The same damned, maniacal laughter he’d heard the last time Goblins showed up. A cloying miasma, reminiscent of road kill lying in the sun too long, clogged his nostrils.
Even though he still couldn’t see what had him, steel bands wrapped around his chest. Breathing became difficult. He considered yelling for Brad, but didn’t want either the crippled detective or, God forbid, Lara, anywhere near what was happening to him. Fear clawed at his belly. The edges of his vision grayed as his oxygen supply diminished.
“For bloody fuck’s sake, I’m going to die here,” he growled, just before the darkness swirling ever closer dragged him downward…
5 Triskelions for The Soul Storm Series
Wow! The Soul Storm series delves into the ‘what if’ category, and leads you into an alternate world. Ms. Gimpel has written a series steeped in psychology, and has thrown in paranormal aspects in the form of Celtic myths, suspense, and love.
The story doesn’t throw everything at you at once, Ms. Gimpel has crafted a well-developed, well-plotted alternate world that is both believable and well researched.
With the impending collapse of society as we know it (something that is all too real a possibility), psychic and psychologist, Dr. Lara McInnis, has buried her head in the sand and concentrated all her energy on her patients, and only dabbled in her gifts.
When her long-time boyfriend turns out to be correct about the negative changes coming their way, and mythical creatures begin to show themselves, life as Lara and Trevor Denoble know it is soon to become something of the past.
This series takes you on an action packed ride, and really makes you take a step back from your life and think. I love books where I learn something along the way while reading, and these most definitely deliver with both psychology and Celtic myths. The characters are deeply written and suck you into their lives-a place you won't want to leave.
Well done! I can’t wait to read more from Ms. Gimpel.
***I received free pdf copies of the Soul Storm Series in exchange for an honest review, however partway through the first book, I knew I had to have these in my Kindle library and bought them all!***
About the Author:
Ann Gimpel is a national bestselling author. She’s also a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent. Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. She’s published over 20 books to date, with several more contracted for 2014 and beyond.
A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.
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