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I love a good time-travel romance but it must transition time periods realistically and stay true to the historical era. “Soul Mates” does an admirable job of blending 14th century Ireland with a contemporary time period. I was hooked like a Salmon in spawn season during the first chapter and stayed that way to the last page.
Shannon O’Brien is celebrating her sixth birthday. She’s a special child. An empath, perhaps a bit clairvoyant, but a tragedy soon befalls her, creating a ripple effect to modern day Phoenix, Arizona and affecting the love between Ian Brennan and Shandelle Walker.
It’s tricky to write a synopsis for the story without giving away spoilers – so I’m not going to try. I’ve included the author’s blurb below and the first chapter. What I will say is there’s a dark event in Soul Mates but it’s handled tastefully. Unless you are an ultra sensitive reader, you shouldn’t have any issues with the story line. I don’t deal well with child or animal cruelty/violence but I realized the scene was a catalyst for later events and admired the tactful way it was written.
Phew! Did I tiptoe around that without giving anything away?
“Soul Mates” is two stories running concurrently during different time periods. Ms. Wolters does an excellent job of switching back and forth without confusing the reader. Pardon the cliche, but her characters truly come alive on the page. This is the first book I’ve read by author Sandy Wolters. I assure you, it will not be the last.
Recommended for fans of time-travel and contemporary romance. Even readers who enjoy fantasy will find the wizards and dash of magick an exciting element to this wonderful tale. Rated 4 stars.
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Magic, Time Travel Romance
Number of pages: 142
Word Count: 50,573
Cover Artist: Dannye Williamsen
Pulled Back Through Time, Shandelle Is Caught Between An Enduring Love And A Wizard’s Magic.
In the beginning of time, one soul splits into two. Lifetime after lifetime, the two souls are reborn and seek to reunite. Like a beacon of light from heaven above, their light shines for each other. Without the other, there is only darkness. A wonderful blessing that can only come from a deeply-bonded love, the sharing of one soul can also be a black curse if something disrupts the moment of their coming together.
Ireland 1323 – Donovan, chieftain of the Clan O’Brien, has unsuccessfully searched his entire adult life, to the detriment of his clan and all those around him, for that elusive possession that will bring his soul peace. He doesn’t know what it is, but he will give up everything to find it. One day, he is summoned by the Wizard and told the secret of his obsession—his soul mate. She is no longer living in his time, but there is a way to bring her back to him.
Phoenix 2013 – Shandelle and Ian are embarking on their new life together. She is everything Ian ever wanted but never realized he needed before he met her. Shandelle is a generous soul who lives to make Ian and everyone around her happy. Unfortunately for them both, evil is stalking them. The blood bond duty of a close friend brings betrayal and evil into their lives. How were they to know that the death of a six-year-old girl in the early fourteenth century could have such grave consequences on their lives today?
Watching the preparations for the upcoming festivities at the castle unfold in front of her, the young girl closed her eyes and breathed deeply to take in the smells of the assorted meats as they roasted on the communal spit. Her mouth was watering from the savory scents.
Today was indeed a special day. It was not only her birthday, but also a day of festival where all the people belonging to the Clan O’Brien converged on the castle dressed in their finest clothes, partook in games, listened to bards, danced, and indulged in succulent meats and spirits. Today was the first day of February, traditionally the first day of spring in Ireland and the day for honoring St. Brigid of Kildare. Long tables and benches had been set out in the courtyard for all the clansmen and visitors to partake in the celebration.
Maybe, just maybe, if she were lucky, she would get a glimpse of the chief’s son, Donovan. She smiled to herself, not understanding the feelings her six-year-old heart felt when her gaze fell on the beautiful Donovan with his dark hair and intense, ten-year-old boyish good looks.
She held the wild rose she had picked on her walk to the castle close to her heart. She didn’t know why, but she believed this rose was significant somehow. Her mother had always taught her to listen to her inner feelings so Shannon clung to the rose, knowing it would be of great import today.
As she weaved her way through the people, her spirits soared. Everyone was smiling, laughing, friendly. Moving closer to the inner circle of the courtyard, she noticed many unfamiliar faces among the men. While not unusual at festival time, her curiosity was aroused. As she moved even closer, a cold chill ran down her spine. Questions filled her mind as she became aware that these men displayed none of the lightheartedness of the others—in fact, just the opposite.
Her hand unwittingly flew to the amulet hanging around her neck in a leather pouch to feel its warmth and security. Who are these men? Why do they all look so unapproachable, so angry? Her feeling of unease was so intense that she wanted to run from the celebration and sound a warning of danger. Every instinct within her was forewarning Shannon about the pure evil of which these men were capable.
With such strong feelings of distress running through her body, she didn’t realize that she was slowly backing away from where the men had gathered in a single area of the courtyard. As she put distance between herself and these strangers, the tension in her body eased. Though her senses were relaxing, she still clutched her amulet. Turning, she saw a stranger dressed as the frightening men were dressed; yet, there was something different about this man. He was not angry like the others. She felt no evil cascading off of him as she had with the others.
This man was sad, the feeling so strong within him that the air around him seemed to shimmer with it. She stood there, unable to move, watching as people, walking by this man, unconsciously gave him a wide berth. Although the people seemed oblivious to the shimmering aura around him, it was evident they must have felt it for they walked around this force field of sorrow as if to avoid being trapped in it.
Aengus Doyle, heir to the Clan Doyle, sat and stared into his cup of ale. He was burdened by the viciousness that always overtook him when he sought revenge against those who had murdered the people of his father’s clan—murdered for a few meaningless trinkets and even less livestock. With each day that passed, he knew he was becoming more and more like his bloodthirsty father, who ruled with an iron fist and a heart of stone. He could not help but wonder what had happened to that young lad who had loved life and dreamed of leading his father’s people with a generous, kind heart, rather than with one as black as his had become. Torturing those thieves had excited him as he discovered new ways to inflict pain upon them. It was as if his father had stepped inside him, possessing his body like the devil himself. Now it sickened him to the core.
Lost in thought and blocking all the sounds of celebration from himself, he felt a slight shift in the air pressure around him. A tiny voice made its way through the psychological walls he had set up around himself.
“Excuse me, sir.”
He ignored the sweet voice as he forcibly kept his attention on his feelings of disgust about the atrocities he had inflicted on other human beings. He hoped this exercise and his remorse would keep these dark, powerful emotions chained within himself, never to appear to him again. If he could keep them there, perhaps he had a chance to go on with his life.
“Excuse me, sir,” the voice repeated.
Without looking up, Aengus snarled, “Go away! I do not desire to have a conversation.”
The next moment, a beautiful rose moved into his field of vision. Something in his gut clenched. He looked up to see a little girl dressed in a well-worn smock, holding the rose out to him. His body relaxed as he looked at this beautiful child in front of him. She had golden hair that shimmered in the sun, light-colored freckles dotted her nose, and a beautiful smile crossed her lovely, bow-shaped mouth. Looking into her large, stunning eyes, he forgot to breathe. Her eyes were such a dark blue, they reminded him of priceless gems he had once been shown by his father in his clan’s coffers. Her soul shone brightly through these eyes of sparkling sapphire, and he knew he would never forget them. He felt this child looking into his soul and experienced peace for the first time since his journey had begun.
“I picked this rose for you, sir, on my way to the castle.” She brandished the wild rose, and her smile grew even larger.
Aengus lifted his hand and gently took the rose from the child. As he did this, she climbed into his lap and put her tiny hand on his face to help steal the sadness from him.
“My name is Shannon. Today is not a good day to feel so sad. Today is a happy day. It is festival and my sixth birthday. No one should feel the pain you do today.”
The emotion this child was evoking in him stunned Aengus. At her touch, tension that had ensconced itself in his body flowed out of him. He felt warmth and love emanating from this small angel, undoubtedly sent to him from heaven above. No more words were spoken. Shannon simply looked into his eyes and smiled. Time stood still. He knew this tiny girl was somehow giving him strength, healing his soul. He didn’t understand it, but he wouldn’t refuse the gift she was passing to him.
Proudly, she told him, “My mother says I have a gift. She says that I’m going to be a very important person when I grow up. I’m going to change the way people think and how they treat others.” Her hand moved from his face to clutch her amulet. “You are in danger. I can feel it. You’re afraid of losing yourself to the dark side of your ancestry.”
She paused as she took the pouch off of her body and held it out to him. “This is my talisman. It’s very powerful.” She reached for his hand and placed it over the amulet in her own. “Do you feel it? Do you feel the power of it?”
His breath caught in his throat. He could feel the power, power such as that contained in the strong storms at sea. He felt the power surge through his body as if he had been hit by lightening.
“Do you feel it?”
He couldn’t speak. All he could do was acknowledge her with a nod.
“The amulet keeps me safe. My mother said to never take it off, but I believe your soul is in grave danger, and you need it more than I.”
Aengus stared at her, unwilling to let go of the emotions this child aroused in him. She was offering something so personal, so powerful, to a complete stranger who she felt needed help.
Afraid of his voice cracking, he spoke very softly. “Thank you, little one, but I cannot accept such a gift as this. I have nothing of value to give in return.”
Shannon smiled. “The evil from your soul is gift enough. You, too, are destined to change the people around you. You need this to stay safe so you can continue on the path you were meant to be on.”
She put the pouch around his neck and pressed it against his heart. His body shook with emotions he had not felt in years. He felt as though he now had the strength to beat the devil himself. He didn’t know how or why, but he knew her words were true. He would change the lives of the people in his clan for the better when he became chieftain of the Clan Doyle.
She gently slid off his lap and gave him one last, delightful smile. Without her sitting on his lap, the sharp pain of abandonment, complete isolation, washed over him again.
“I must leave now to go home and help mother bring our food to the festival.” Conspiratorially, she cupped her hands to her mouth as if relaying a big secret. “I’m going to walk home through the trees.” She giggled. “My mother says not to walk there because there are goblins and fairies that will carry me off, but I’ve never seen one.”
Immediately alert, he leaned forward and reached for her hands. “Let me take you home. It’s the least I can do for you.”
Cocking her head, she said. “I love to walk, and I don’t live far. You stay and enjoy the festival. I’m glad you feel better. The sadness has stopped shimmering in the air around you.”
He didn’t want to let her go. He pleaded, “Please, do as your mother asks. Take the road. It’s much safer than the trees.” He paused, thinking of the ambush he and his men had accomplished just hours ago in trees like these. “There are bigger and much uglier things than fairies or goblins that can hide in the woods.”
Her answering smile sent waves of warmth to his very core as she nodded. “Then I will take the road.” She turned and walked away from him through the entrance of the castle.
His eyes never wavered from her retreating form. He continued to watch even after she was no longer visible. Reaching up. he gently fingered the amulet. His urge to look at what was inside the leather pouch was strong, but he felt this was something that must be done when no one was watching.
As he sat there, contemplating this tiny, angelic child who was placed in his path, a sense of foreboding settled over him. It was so strong that he found himself upright and moving quickly to his horse outside the castle walls before his actions even registered in his brain. Panic set in. Shannon, his beautiful, six-year-old guardian angel, was in trouble, and he knew it. He had to get to her. He kicked his horse and moved quickly down the road leading away from the castle.
As he approached a sharp bend in the road that hid the path ahead, his heart sank. He knew he would find her around this bend. A woman’s wail sliced through the air and excised all the strength in his body. His horse kept moving forward until they rounded the corner, and he saw her, his little angel, Shannon. She was lying broken on the road ahead of him.
Dropping from his horse, he ran the rest of the distance to her. The hysterical woman, Shannon’s mother, was being held back from Shannon’s body by other children who were older than his angel, obviously her brothers and sisters.
Aengus knelt beside the beautiful child in the tattered dress and tears fell unashamedly down his face. He looked into her huge, lifeless, dark-blue eyes that were wide open and staring at the sky. She was gone.
He placed the beautiful wild rose in her hand and picked up her broken body, trying to wash away the feeling of isolation that her loss was reigniting in him. He rocked her body back and forth, crying for a child who had changed his life in a matter of minutes.
“I promise you, Shannon, I will heed your words and change my life. My soul is safe from the darkness because of you. I will never forget you, and you will be in my heart forever.”
I’ve been an avid reader for years. To my husband’s dismay, I have bookshelves full of books, rooms full of books, boxes full of books. My cars have books in them. I just can’t seem to get rid of them after I read them. You just never know when you will want to read it again, right? When my husband bought me a Kindle, it cut down on our need for storage, but it opened me up to books that I might never have experienced otherwise.
The biggest transition in my relationship with books occurred, however, when I, much to my surprise, became an author. I had started having dreams about people I didn’t know. I started looking forward to my dreams every night. Then I realized that I was daydreaming about these people as well. I’d just be sitting there, and these people and their antics would pop into my mind. Finally, I gave in and began writing their story down, something I had never dreamed of doing.
After I wrote my first book Maggie Mae, I had do idea what to do with it. After trying the traditional route for a little while, my husband pushed me in the direction of ebooks, and I’ve never looked back.
My books invariably feature strong women. My husband, Michael, and I have raised two strong daughters, Pilar and Shandelle, and they inspire the characters in my stories. As a matter of fact, Pilar was the main character in my book A Brother’s Love, and Shandelle is the main character in my new release Soul Mates. Justice for Emily was the most difficult book I’ve written, and that was because Emily was the victim of a sadistic, cruel, and abusive husband, who just happened to be the Chief of Police. One of my readers described this books as a “good mystery laced with sex, violence, ghosts and spirits.” The only thing her summary left out was the strength of the two women in this story: Emily and Rachael.
I’ve had fun with all the books I’ve written. I think the fact that I insert real events into my books, things that have actually happened in my family’s lives, is like having a private joke. Knowing that Michael Rogers in Maggie Mae is based on my husband tickles my fancy. I am a very lucky woman!
Although I write romance novels, they always contain a paranormal twist. My latest, Soul Mates, has the added element of time travel accomplished through the magical arts. I imagine my future writings will always contain romance with strong women and men of character, influenced by events that reach beyond what we consider normal, and perhaps seasoned with a little touch of whimsy.
Blog: Sandy’s Spotlight – http://sandywolters.weebly.com/sandys-spotlight.html