Review: Lawked Flame by Erosa Knowles

Knowles introduces us to an unusual world in Lawked Flame. From the first page, we know something is off, but we just can’t place it. The mannerisms of the townspeople of Lawkharven are slightly odd, as are their names and use of language. Eventually we learn where these people are from and what they are.

After their home planet is overthrown, the Lawkmerians are forced to relocate, temporarily, to Earth. They create the mysterious town of Lawkharven – a zone in the middle of the forest warded against their enemies and human discovery. Their enemy, the Galeet’s, plot to abolish the Lawkmerians with little regard to the human deaths their viral infections cause. Nature’s Mother aided the Lawkmerians on Earth while they battle the Galeet’s to reclaim their home, and now she is asking for something in return.

Humans do not know what Lawkmerians are or what they can do. They made a conscious choice not to interact with humans. Now, it seems, humans might be the only thing that can save them. At least the humans who are unknowing Kees.

Alayna is the first human who may be a Kee, someone who can unlock the Lawkes. Khayden is a Master Lawke – leader of his people. While the Master is locked, neither he, nor any other Lawkes can reproduce or reach their true strength potential. In order to release his ultimate power and defeat their enemy, Khayden must unlock with a Kee created specifically for him. Unfortunately, none of the existing Lawkmerian Kees are a match to Khayden.

It looks like Alayna is Khayden’s Kee which poses problems. An unlocking is an intense process – one too powerful for a human to survive. Also, unlike Lawkmerian Kees, unlocking with a human Kee involves more than mere sex – it requires a sharing of souls, something Khayden has no interest in. Until he meets Alayna.

While Khayden struggles with the truth of who his Kee is, Alayna comes to terms with this strange new world smack in the middle of the forest, and her place in it. I have to say this book started off slow for me. There’s a lot of unfamiliar language, names, behaviours and races to get used to, at first. Almost too much for me. I have a page count of where I will give up on a book, and this one pushed the limit. But I stuck it out, and boy, am I glad I did!

Once I got rolling with the real story, the characters came to life and the action pulsed. Truthfully, aside from a break to go to sleep for the night, I read this book from cover to cover in one sitting. Knowles had me daydreaming about how the story might continue on as a series and what life back on Lawkmeria is like. In short, she left me wanting more.

The author’s style is tight, for the most part, with plenty of active voice to keep things moving. She provides enough description to set the stage, without weighing down the story. As a mystery/suspense writer I can usually spot who-done-it long before the author reveals the culprit. Not so in this book.

I must say, I’m glad for the opportunity to read Lawked Flame. I’m a tough reader, and don’t give high praise lightly. I initially gave this book 3.5 readings because of the slow start. Then I bumped it up to 4 readings to encourage readers to give this book some serious time. I think it deserves it.

Lawked Flame
By Erosa Knowles
Blurb
Can a woman who has been betrayed in the worst way by an ex-spouse learn to trust again? Will she open her heart to a man who seems to be too good to be true, meeting every requirement she has ever wanted or needed in a partner?

Alayna would. But it will take time. Time is the one thing Khayden, Master Lawke, doesn’t have. His enemies are bent on destroying his people and harming Earth in the process.

The only way to save both is for his Kee, Alayna, to unlock him, freeing his powers and unbeknownst to her, her own. But first she has to believe that there’s more to her current lover than she sees. It will take a leap of faith to accept his pursuit and engage her battered heart again. The attacks are speeding up, with an alarming amount of casualties. Despite the fierce attraction, Alayna isn’t sure she’s strong enough to lay bare her heart again, so soon. Khayden is betting his life that she is strong enough to do that and to handle his flame.

Lawked Flame by Erosa Knowles a paranormal romance.

Lawked Flame Excerpt:
Bat in one hand and a bottle of water in the other, Alayna strode down the middle of the cobblestone road that led to what appeared to be some sort of western town. Not western, she didn’t see any saloons, but definitely not modern. There were two-storied clapboard buildings with interesting architectural details flanking the street. Her other brother Tommy was an architect. He would be able to explain all the scrolls and expansive woodwork on the exteriors.

As she studied the buildings she wondered if people lived in this place or if it was the remnants from a Hollywood movie set. Strange, none of the buildings bore signs on the outside. Even though they appeared well maintained—no peeling paint or even a loose board—like the plants and trees they seemed dull.

The sounds she’d heard earlier had ceased the moment the buildings had come into sight. A sense of foreboding rolled over her, and she considered returning to the safety of the truck. She squeezed the handle of the bat securely as she inched forward, her eyes roaming the street and buildings for signs of people.

A bubble of laughter rose up on the wings of hysteria. She was lost in the woods on a cobblestone road in the middle of what looked like a ghost town. If she were looking to develop a fantasy theme park, this would be a perfect spot. None of this made any sense. At twenty-nine years old with a brutal divorce under her belt, she’d lost her whimsical glasses and saw things with a pragmatic eye.

Mmmay…I…I..h.h.help?” The deep voice stuttered as though unsure he could speak.

Ahhhh,” Alayna yelled as she spun around at his first word, dropping her water bottle as the bat flew forward, striking him on the arm. Totally unaffected by the blow, he glanced at the bat and then at her.

Oh shit. Her heart nearly jumped out her throat. Chest heaving, palm forward, she backed away from the serious-looking man. “Where’d…you…come…from?” she choked out the question. She hadn’t heard his approach.

He frowned. “Come… from?” His eyes were cloudy.

Lord help her. He, like their surroundings, seemed dull. “Yes,” she drawled. “You were not here a moment ago.” She stared at him, taking in his light green long-sleeved canvas drawstring shirt and matching pants. His hair was an odd mixture of blondish-brown.

He blinked repeatedly. “Moment ago?” he asked, his words clearer.

Backing away, she glanced back the way she’d come, wondering if she could make it to the Rover.

I am sorry if I frightened you.”

Alayna jumped as her head whipped around to see the stranger had closed the space between them. “Damn it. Stop that. Stop sneaking up on me. You’re going to give me a heart attack.” Damn, Speedy Gonzalez.

For a moment she thought back to when she was in her office dealing with one of her staff, they’d enjoyed walking up on her like that. Afterwards, they’d all laughed at her reaction, sometimes it’d been funny. This was not one of those times. Her hand rested on her wildly beating chest as she kept an eye on Speedy. He remained passive, staring at her as though she were the anomaly. “My car broke down in the forest, is there someone here who can get it started? Or what about a phone, do you have a phone?”

He frowned again.

Frustration clouded her mind and unhinged her mouth. “Stop that. You know what a phone is, just let me make a few calls and I’ll be on my way.” Fear snapped her mouth shut. No one knew where she was, and she was giving this guy attitude. She hoped he had thick skin and would ignore her outburst.

Car. Automobile, method of transportation, it failed you and now you require assistance. Is that correct?” He offered what could’ve been considered a smile, if he hadn’t appeared to be in pain.

Her estimation that she’d stumbled into some type of mental garrison gained momentum. What if they didn’t allow her to leave since she discovered their illegal secret? This young man shouldn’t be out on the street without supervision. Mentally, she fast-forwarded every television program and movie she’d ever seen with this type of set-up. It didn’t look good for her.

Yes,” she said. Take me to your leader. “Is there anyone here who can help me?” Images of the young man taking her into a castle-like building tickled her imagination, her mind rolled images one after the other of spoofs she’d seen and for a moment she forgot the harsh reality of the situation. No one knew where she was, and a man she didn’t know, didn’t respond to a hit from a baseball bat.

Moments later, the door opened on the cocoa-colored old Victorian building in front of her, drawing her attention. The mental images screeched to a halt as a large man wearing similar clothes, except they were tan, as the smaller man in front of her, stepped out.

The dude had to be at least six-four and was wide like a linebacker with an angular face and a short neck. He didn’t seem happy and remained by the door, staring at her. Instinctively, she tightened her grip on the bat, pushing back the mental replay of how ineffective it’d been against the much smaller man. It’d probably feel like a gnat or fly to this one.

Who’s he?” she asked. She was suddenly more comfortable with the smaller man than the silent giant who simply stared at them.

He will fix your vehicle as you requested.”

I also asked for a phone.” Her eyes slid to him, hoping he’d give in to that request as well.

There are no telephones here.” Although he’d infused sympathy into his voice, his eyes said he wasn’t.

Alayna stared at him a moment longer. Had she thought his eyes cloudy? Once again she’d misjudged, they were a light green, like the color of mint tea. In fact, his outfit matched his eyes perfectly. A shiver of unease went through her. Had she stumbled into a testing facility where they cloned people? Or ran experiments or something worse? She opened her mouth to ask, but slammed it shut, dreading the answer. Looking up at the porch, she noticed the big guy had left and was halfway down the road.

Pivoting, she charged after him. “Stop,” she yelled. He continued forward. “Stop right now, damn it.” Her voice deepened as fear choked her.

He froze, looked over his shoulder and waited.

Panting, she finally caught up with him. Digging into her pocket, she pulled out the keys. They glinted in the weak sunlight.

He looked at them and then at her, a question in his eyes.

You need the keys to start the Land Rover.” She waited until he offered his palm, and dropped the keys into his cupped hand. “Want me to come with you?” She walked next to him and stared back when she noticed he hadn’t moved.

No. You should go back and refresh yourself.” The coarseness of his voice made her wonder if he’d used it in a while.

Her stomach growled, reminding her of some needs that required her attention. She’d eaten all of her picnic foodstuff between last night and this morning. Still, she didn’t want to leave a complete stranger alone with her brother’s vehicle. “No, I’ll get something after we get the truck started.” She waited for him to join her.

It may not start. It may need a tow,” he said, his words stilted.

Do you have a tow truck? Or will you call someone from town?”

He frowned. “Call?”

Never mind. Let’s get started.” She turned in the direction of the Rover, swinging the bat in tandem with her steps. The way seemed longer and by the time she saw the outline of the truck, she was winded. She pointed as though he’d miss the only vehicle sitting slumberous in the forest. “There it is.”

She stopped at the clearing, head bowed, hands on her knees, and breathed heavily. The air seemed heavier, less fragrant. Sniffing, she turned in the direction of Mr. Silent and stopped, embarrassed that he’d caught her smelling him. She’d always had this thing for scents, and many times she’d make decisions based on the way someone or something smelled.

Her face warmed as she turned away. “Sorry.”

He grunted as he opened the door and popped the hood.

Alayna peeked around him at the intestines of the truck. “What’s the matter with it?” she asked. She was impatient to get the thing running so she could deposit it safely in her brother’s garage and think about everything she’d seen.

He grunted again, walked over to the driver’s side, reached in and turned the key. Fingers crossed, she prayed for a miracle. Nothing. She heard the car door open and then close. He returned to the front, looked at her and pulled the hood down. She jumped at the sound.

Any clue why it won’t start? I don’t think that’s ever happened before,” she said as he started back in the direction they’d just come from. He didn’t respond and he didn’t slow down. Tired, deflated, and unable to keep up, she slowed her pace to get her bearings.

Where the hell was she? Should she follow him and try for more assistance? During the short time she’d talked to green eyes she couldn’t put her finger on what it was, but something wasn’t right. She revised her mentally challenged camp theory. Maybe a commune? Nature lovers compound? That’d explain no phones, wouldn’t it? Hell, she had no idea, no one she knew was into that type of thing. Her stomach growled again. Not only was she tired and hungry, she needed a shower.

Do you require additional assistance?”

Alayna jumped, dropping the bat this time. Her hand flew to her throat. “I asked you not to do that,” she snarled, furious with herself for being so skittish. “What are you doing here?” Her eyes widened when she saw the clapboard buildings. Had she walked back that fast without realizing it?

I was told you were hungry.” He waited for her to speak, his light green eyes curious, but other than that she couldn’t pick up any hidden agendas.

I am.” She hated admitting she needed something from him or Mr. Silent. She hadn’t finished cataloging them and this place. Her rounds of what if’s had just begun. “Can you tell me something?” She looked him in the eyes, picking up on a flash of alarm. Her stomach clenched. Something was definitely wrong here.

Yes.”

What’s the name of your town?”

She wasn’t sure how she knew his tension eased but she did. He relaxed.

Lawkharven.”

Lockhaven?”

No, you say it as you say the word law. Lawkharven.” He enunciated again.

Oh, okay. Got it. What’s your name?” She stood in the middle of the road, rambling. Which made her wonder which of them had the problem?

I am called Lorenzo. And you are?” He smiled at her and she froze. The man was drop dead gorgeous in a boyish-man kind of way. His eyes sparkled. His teeth gleamed, making her think he’d had some serious dental work. He’d put most of the male models on the covers of magazines to shame. Lorenzo would be a wet dream for a few of her friends, both male and female.

Alayna. Call me Alayna.” She broke their connection by glancing around, not wanting him to get the wrong impression. He was good-looking, but she wasn’t interested. Having a cheating ex-husband break your heart did that to a woman. “Where can I grab a bite to eat?”

He touched her shoulder, and she whirled on him. “Don’t touch me.”

He back up a few steps, his eyes wide. “I am most sorry. Forgive me.” Between sounding pitiful and his face losing its glow from a moment before, she felt like the biggest jerk.

Tempering her voice and hoping the smile on her face appeared sincere, she backtracked. “No, it’s okay, you just surprised me.” And I don’t like people I don’t know touching me; bad memories – don’t go there. “Which way to eat?”

The moment the question left her mouth, the sweetest aromas split the air. She inhaled and felt as though she would levitate following after the smells. “I want some of that.” She glanced at him. “Come on, Lorenzo. Let’s eat.” At the back of her mind, a warning blared at the coincidence of the smells and her comments, but she was so hungry, she pushed it aside to examine later.

He waved her forward, remaining a cautious distance. They turned a corner and Alayna stopped so abruptly, Lorenzo bumped into her.

I am sorry. I did not realize you had stopped.” He tripped over himself trying to apologize.

She waved him down and pointed at the large building in the middle of the block. “Is that a Woolworth over there?” Her head whipped from him to the building, back to him again. “I’ve seen pictures of my grandmother working in that place. But I thought they were extinct.” She shook her head, trying to get the words right. “I mean, they went out of business. How can one be here? In the middle of the forest? I mean town. Oh, hell. Now I’m sounding batty.”

He waved her forward. “It is where you shall eat.”

As she crossed the street, her eyes widened at the other stores. There was an Eagle Army Navy, a Jordan Marsh department store, and one with a weirder name, Zayre. “What are those?” she asked, pointing to the buildings.

They are places we replenish our supplies, a store.” He looked at her with a glimmer of doubt in his eyes, as though she were the slow one.

I know they’re stores. I can see that. What I mean is…” She paused, trying to figure exactly what she wanted to know. “Is this where stores come after they die?” she whispered.

Erosa Knowles Bio:
Originally from Miami Florida, Ms. Knowles now resides in North Carolina with her husband and teen-aged son. Two older children are married and live in North Carolina as well. An avid reader since college, Ms. Knowles is one of those people who keeps her books as old friends and has re-read all of them at least once. Many have been read more often. Writing stories, creating worlds and characters fuels my imagination is both physically relaxing and mentally invigorating. Although life got in the way and she had to postpone her writing, it is the one career she always craved. As a full time writer, her days are just as full, except now she is doing what she loves. Reading exciting stories from talented authors from various genres and writing the stories that tickle her imagination

The author has an audio link where you can hear her speak about her books. Check it out!

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