Scapulimancist by Charmaine Pauls
Series: Forbidden Arts #7
Published by LLC on January 10th 2017
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Sara Graham has no idea what she is getting herself into when she uses her forbidden art to protect the near-extinct elephants and their habitat in the Knysna forest, South Africa. From the minute she sets foot in the woodcutters’ bar, she endangers her life. The gift hunters who would kill for her art are not the only threat. The wood smugglers will sooner murder her than let the National Parks Board ranger stand in their way. Falling for woodcutter and ex-convict, Wayne West, only further complicates matters. Can Sara trust a man convicted of the cruelest of murders?
Danger comes to town with a green SANParks vest and a tight body. Wayne knows Sara is all kinds of trouble from the first time he lays eyes on her in the bar. Alone, she doesn't stand a chance. If he protects her, he will not only be branded as a traitor with the woodcutters, but he may also lose his job, and worse, his land. That is to say if they make it out alive. Even then, can he forgive her for taking the only thing he has left?
This book contains explicit language and consummated love scenes. Reader discretion is advised. Although this is Book 7 (ANIMAL) of the paranormal erotic Seven Forbidden Art series, the story also reads as a standalone. For best reading enjoyment and character insight it is recommended that the series be read in chronological order.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
I don’t recall ever reading a story where Scapulimancists were included, in fact, I am confident this is my first! Which meant when I began reading my focus was on the scenes taking place. Scapulimancist is a story about truth, power, greed and the threat of damage that looms when the wrong people hold control. The African setting provided the platform for animal conservation, human rights and sustaining a living.
Sara’s assignment is to both secure an agreement between the native people and a landowner as well as confirming the local elephant population. Her first encounter with the locals is unpleasant, to say the least. They are unwelcoming and their attitude to her was downright painful. She didn’t help walking into a local eatery/bar in her work outfit and request a vegetarian meal.
I appreciated the dilemma she faced when trying to find out what she could order from their menu. The staff were just being annoying and rude when they said they had nothing for her. Left with asking what they served with their meat, she ended up ordering the sides, but the jerks charged her the same price! They were sending her a message with the meal in more ways than one.
Wayne comes to Sarah’s rescue, and the chemistry between the two is hot. It quickly smoulders out when he discovers the reason Sarah is in town. Sarah’s heart sinks when it turns out it is Wayne’s land she needs to acquire but remains stoic in doing what she has been sent to do. What she doesn’t know is that the acquisition is not going to be straight-forward or easy by any standards.
The plot is complicated with several layers all impacting on Wayne and Sarah’s well-being. Wayne has served time in jail for a murder he has no recollection of, involving his then partner. He’s not had it easy, with many people holding him responsible for the girl’s death and on top of that the financial drain of his legal fees has cost him dearly as well. Working at the local lumber yard, for a greedy, underhanded business owner, he has to decide between earning an income or leaving for good.
He never got over losing his girlfriend and as such has not wanted to enter a relationship since. When he meets Sarah though, she stirs up emotions he had long since buried. With both of them fighting their attraction and the town against Sarah, their happiness seems impossible.
I loved Sarah’s sassy ways, but her naivety sometimes lets her down. Especially on one particular evening on a girl’s night out where she did something totally foolish. Luckily it was not life threatening, but she went down a notch in my appreciation of her with her immaturity.
Wayne had no easy way out and was shackled within what he could do. His choices were down to the lesser of two evils. When he could step up to do right, he didn’t hesitate which only endeared him to me all the more. There was one time where he went a tad caveman, and I rolled my eyes because really, he had no cause to do so in my opinion. It was a moment of ill-timed clarity but luckily not too late for him!
The supernatural aspect of the story was interesting. I didn’t feel lost at all this being my first book in the series. There were times when the story felt drawn out, and the drama continued throughout, unlike a lot of romances where the drama erupts in the final chapters. It threw me a tad, thinking ‘Why is this happening now?’, I still have a good percentage left to read. While I enjoyed the story, there were times when I believed I could have done with a break and read something else in between.
Sarah and her talents enabled me to experience a plot I hadn’t encountered before. I appreciated the emotion behind the animal conservation efforts. The struggle with vegetarian food options is a universal challenge for people who chose a meat-free diet. Having family and friends who endure the ignorance of individuals who refuse to accept other’s choices and beliefs, this added a realistic twist I related to. The action was full of suspense but occasionally became a tad OTT and drew the story out more than needed. There was a lot to love about Scapulimancist with the good times overshadowing the darker aspects to this story!
3.5 Action Packed Stars
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