Blind Man’s Wolf by Amelia Faulkner
Series: Tooth & Claw #1
Source: Review by Request
Copy provided by Author
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
A night-blind vampire. A werewolf with lousy self-confidence. And a whole hell of a lot of danger…
Ellis O’Neill is an art dealer with too many problems: his eyesight has deteriorated to the point of night-blindness; he’s estranged from his family, to whom he owes a considerable sum of money; and his guide dog went right off him the night Ellis died. Without his dog, Ellis is trapped in a life bouncing between home and work, dependent on his personal assistant.
Werewolf Randall Carter has problems of his own. He loves his pack, he really does, but as their Omega he’s always the one to bear the brunt of their rage. It’s a role he can’t avoid, and Randall isn’t sure he can take it for much longer, so he buries himself in his day job. Randall’s the best dog trainer in the city, and when he’s offered a client who needs him to work evenings he’d be a fool to turn it down.
Soon Randall is falling for someone he should despise. Everything about the undead is anathema to his kind, but Ellis is exactly the kind of guy Randall would want to ask out on a date – if he were still breathing. Worse, they may not have too long to figure their feelings out. Someone or something is gunning for Ellis and anyone else who gets in the way; they won’t rest until the vampire is destroyed.
What an amazing story!
“…You can’t go through life alone just because you don’t need to breathe anymore.”
“Oh, you don’t think the blood-drinking and sunlight-allergy is an issue? Be still my already-still heart. Jay is going to find me the man of my dreams.”
Maybe this was a case of reading the right book at the right time, but I fell in love with this story. I had a huge grin on my face while reading it and I have a feeling this is going to be one of those books I recommend frequently.
There was a fabulous infusion of wry British humor,
The characters were unique,
The romance was sweet and cute,
The dialogue was quirky and smart,
The sexytimes were pure smutty perfection,
& There was even a bit of heart-pounding suspense!
I’m in awe, people.
Amelia Faulkner is a new-to-me author and I am officially a fan.
I can’t wait to continue the series and find out what happens next for these characters.
Ellis couldn’t help but feel flattered. Dangerously, terrifyingly flattered. Apparently he had the power to make this powerful creature forget he could tear people asunder. Was that a good thing?
Ellis is a blind Vampire who owns an art gallery in London. He was turned about a year before this story starts, and he was almost completely blind at the time of his turning. Since his form was ‘fixed’ at the moment he joined the ranks of the undead, he will forever be almost blind.
In order to navigate London, Ellis relies on his seeing eye dog, Tiberius. Unfortunately, Tiberius has been leading him astray lately. The dog has been taking him far out of his way and even growling at strangers. Ellis fears one day he’ll be led so far from home that he won’t be able to make it back before sunrise.
The solution – call in an experienced dog trainer to observe Tiberius and correct his behavior.
He took the bullying and the taunts because it kept the pack sane; kept it thriving. But he was buggered if he was ever going to like it.
Randall is a werewolf with a gift for patience and empathy – traits that make him a wonderful dog trainer. He doesn’t mind his new client’s odd working hours, and it’s lust at first sight when he meets Ellis O’Neill.
It’s a lust that Randall can’t act on – Ellis is his client, and there’s nothing professional about the thoughts he having… What’s worse, there’s something not quite right about the blind art dealer: He doesn’t seem to have a scent.
Randall turns to his pack for answers, but his relationship with his pack is shaky at best…
Randall has seen more than his fare share of adversity – the story line with his pack (which I fervently hope will be explored further in the second book) shines a spotlight on bullying. The give and take of pack-life in the city of London is so unlike the family-oriented, close-knit packs I’ve come to expect in my PNR. Randall is the Omega of the pack – the designated punching bag, and yet Randall retains his kind and sensitive nature.
The pack believes Ellis might be a Vampire, and tells Randall to investigate and kill Ellis if their suspicions are confirmed.
We’ve got a fabulous forbidden romance in bloom between these two.
In addition to the whole Vampire/Werewolf feud, Blind Man’s Wolf explores themes about discrimination against the blind, the pitfalls of being a black man on the London gay scene, and oh so much more…
There was quite a bit of serious subject matter to round out this romance, and I feel that the balance between sincere and silly was beautifully achieved. This book seemed to have everything I look for in a Paranormal Erotic Romance and it surpassed every expectation I had for it.
I could go on and on about all the awesomeness in this book…
“I don’t know what I am to you, but to me you are a reason to be. You’re something good, something pure, and you’re worth fighting to stay afloat for.”
I do have a few itty-bitty complaints:
- I want the second book in my hot little hands right this second, but it isn’t due out for another month or so. There wasn’t a cliffhanger, exactly, but there were definitely more obstacles for this couple to overcome before we can have a true HEA.
- I don’t think I can call this an ‘insta-love’ situation, but these characters certainly fell fast. With all the reasons Ellis & Randall shouldn’t be together, I would have liked to see more reasons why they should before the L-Bomb was dropped.
- I think a bit more information on Vampire physiology would have saved me a small heart attack during one tense moment in the book. I panicked, but apparently I was ignorant of the awesome Vampire Powers in this fantasy world.. Perhaps a prologue with a bit of Vampire lore and law would have set my mind at ease?
When I think about it, I think all of my tiny complaints can be summed up in one sentence: I WANT MORE.
This is a phenomenal start to a series – so much potential for future plot-lines and I’m already invested in the characters. It would be difficult to resist falling in love with these characters.
Side Note: Ellis O’Neill’s dog is named Tiberius. If you followed my updates as I read this book, you know that I just happen to have a Beagle named Trillian Tiberius – Her names are an homage to ‘Trillian’ (the female lead in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams) and ‘Tiberius’ (The middle name of Captain James Tiberius Kirk from Star Trek) – I realize I’ve just exposed myself as a great big nerd, but you probably already knew that 😉 This is my sweetie:
The more I think about it… I might need to put together a list of the Top Five Fictional Pets in Modern Romance… Any ideas for pets you would add to such a list?
Randall clutched his mug and held it close to his chest, trying to formulate his question in a way that didn’t make him sound like a nutter. “I’ve met someone.”
“Ohhh!” Preeti leaned forward, her features lit with salacious glee. “Tell me more!”
“Oh! Not that kind of someone!” He coughed. “Well. Maybe. No. Anyway, look!” He huffed at her. “Right. I mean, I only had this shape on, not my better nose, so I can’t swear by it-”
“Out with it!”
“He doesn’t have a smell,” Randall blurted.
“That’s not how the joke goes. You start out with ‘my dog has no nose’.” She leaned back again and crossed her legs, watching him over her cup.
“Ha ha,” he said flatly. “No, but seriously. He doesn’t… have a scent. Even when we touched-” he ignored her raised eyebrows “-there wasn’t anything. What does that mean?”
“I’d say it means he’s some sort of predator.”
A laugh escaped him involuntarily, then he swallowed some tea. “Like what? He’s not a shifter, right? He’d smell like us.”
Preeti flexed her delicate shoulders. “He’s not a wolf, certainly. But there are other kinds, so maybe there’s some sort out there which masks its scent so it can hunt better.” Her eyes widened. “Of course, the only thing to mask your scent from is a creature which relies on smell, so maybe it feeds on werewolves!”
Preeti waggled her eyebrows, then turned serious again. “Maybe you should put your good nose on and take a whiff. See whether he really has no smell whatsoever, or if it’s just too faint for humans to detect.”
“I’m going to be working with him for a couple of weeks, so I’ll see if I can get him to hand me something I can sniff later on.”
“Good idea. Get a business card or something. Or just steal his hankie.” She gnawed the inside of her cheek a little, then added “Why did you laugh when I said he was some sort of predator?”
“Well, uh.” Randall hesitated. “God, I’m going to sound like a right arse. He’s blind.”
“Oh!” Preeti grinned. “You’ve discovered the elusive mole-shifter! Imagine the size of his molehills!”
“Thanks. I’ll be here all week. Try the veal.” She tipped her head in a playful nod. “But seriously, you’re a dog trainer, so I assume he’s got a dog he wants trained, yeah?”
“Got no smell, has a dog, blind.” She finished her mug while she squinted into the middle distance, then shook her head. “Nah, I got nothing. Maybe some kind of underground critter? But they don’t need to mask their scent. So maybe he’s something that hunts by laying traps and doesn’t need eyesight at all.”
Randall shuddered. “What, like a spider or something?”
“Sure. Why not?”
“Fuckin’ ‘ell,” he grunted. “What would he turn into? One gigantic spider, or a thousand normal-sized ones?” Neither image appealed to him. “And what about the half-way point? Like some… giant half-man half-spider with eight legs and ten feet tall-” He broke off. “Shit, I’m never going to sleep again.”
“My work here is done,” Preeti crowed.
“What the hell, Preeti. That’s horrible! You can’t do that to me!”
“Yeah, but just think of the amount of flies he could get through!”
She was enjoying this!
“Well, I’d better look into it, then,” Randall muttered, thoroughly put off now.
“If you get stuck in a giant web, call me.”
An Interview with Amelia Faulkner
Sell your book in five words or less:
Death. Dismemberment. Bumsex.
What was the spark of inspiration which led to this book?
I like to wander around the internet aimlessly absorbing information and I found a blog from a visually impaired chap living in London. It set the brain in motion.
How did you come up with blind vampire art dealer, Ellis O’Neill?
Once I’d decided to write a blind character, I wondered how to make his life as shit as humanly possible. The first step was to research different mechanisms by which one might be sighted most of their life and then lose their sight, and once I had picked a suitable vector for this bombshell I worked on crafting a character for whom this would be a booze-inducing incident. I’ve met blind people who were pretty accepting of their situation, and I didn’t want my guy to go that route. Ellis needed something to drive him into the arms of a vampire, so I settled on a background in art, dissapointment to his father, and all the other horrid things I did to him (sorry, Ellis. It just makes me love you more, I swear).
What about the werewolf dog trainer, Randall Carter?
Once I had Ellis’ character fully formed I needed a character who would not only work with him, but also against him, as all the best lovers do. Both are educated to degree level, but where Ellis’ qualifications are in the arts, Randall’s are in behavioural sciences. How am I going to introduce these two people? Well, Ellis has a guide dog, and isn’t able to call on his Guide Dogs Mobility Instructor if the dog misbehaves, so our werewolf becomes a dog trainer. Why would he train dogs? And so the whole thing goes back and forth until there are two fully developed characters with their own goals and motivations in life, plus you get the inciting incident and the plot: what makes a guide dog act out enough to make it worth calling in a trainer?
Ellis has a unique ‘Vampire Power’ which allows him to see an object’s history – If you could have a unique Vampire Power, what would it be?
Knowing my luck it’d be like Jonas’: completely irrelevant to my own personal interests or abilities. I’d probably get something like super strength or invisibility, neither of which are at all handy for a self-employed writer. Now if I could have Charles’ on the other hand, that would be handy! I’m saying nothing more!
What kind of research did you do to prepare for writing this book?
All of it. All of the research. I’ve researched diseases, life with visual impairment, dog handling techniques, the cost of living in different London boroughs, the Mayfair art scene, London’s population demographics and linguistic spread, European vampire and werewolf mythology, the viability of pure silver in weaponised forms, walking routes in Mayfair which reduce CCTV exposure… I’ve interviewed people with Retinitis Pigmentosa, I’ve asked my optician about symptoms and progression, I’ve talked to people who train Guide Dogs, pumped (oo-err) my gay friends for information about the current scene in London, spoken to black friends about racism in the city… Never let it be said that I don’t do research!
If you were offered the chance to turn this book into a Hollywood movie, would you take that opportunity?
Yes, but I’d want to be damn sure the ghost of the Hays Code wasn’t going to turn Jay into some mindless comedy sidekick, or “punish” Ellis or Randall for being gay. Romance, Hollywood. It’s a viable genre for same-sex couples. Oh also, Gross Points only, thanks.
What can we look forward to next with this series? (No spoilers, pretty please)
In Blood Moon Rising we get more in-depth on Randall’s relationship with his pack, picking up on threads left dangling in Blind Man’s Wolf and yanking on them until they bleed.
Amelia Faulkner On Writing:
How long have you known you wanted to be an author?
Since I was about five.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I certainly remember the first poem I ever wrote. It was terrible. I gave up poetry for the good of all Mankind. I used to amuse and / or frustrate my GCSE English Teacher by only ever turning in stories as homework, though. Worse, they were always an ongoing series using the same characters. She’d give us a writing prompt, and no matter how hard I had to fight to wrap a story around it she damn well got a story, not an essay.
How do you keep your creativity flowing?
Read. If the word well runs dry, ain’t nothin’ coming out of it.
How long did it take for you to write Blind Man’s Wolf?
About six weeks, once all the research, character creation, and outlining was completed. I am, alas, not terribly speedy.
We’re loving the cover of this book! Who designed it?
That was the awesomesauce Scarlet Cox! She was the one who convinced me to self-publish, and she’s done all my covers to date.
What advice do you have for new authors? Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
Self-publishing is absolutely viable, and it’s respectable as you make it. I spent far too long convincing myself that I could never get published, to the extent that I never actually submitted anything – which is a guaranteed way to avoid publication! Work hard, read a lot, and don’t half-arse anything.
How do you deal with bad reviews? Any advice for other authors in that regard?
I think there’s a twofold issue here. First off is a review which in itself is not very good: it doesn’t tell other readers what the reviewer liked or disliked about the book and doesn’t help anyone make a purchasing decision. I ignore those no matter how many stars are on them. Every product gets them. Secondly there are good reviews with low ratings: one or two stars in which the reviewer has taken the time to explain why they disliked the book so much. These reviews are gold! Blind Man’s Wolf has a superb 1-star review because the lady who left it was thorough and explained exactly what she disliked about the book, and this will help other customers who dislike the same things when they decide whether or not to purchase.
What additional projects are you working on?
I have a sequel to Haunted Hearts in the works, on hold for the moment while I finish the Tooth & Claw series. Jon and Basil just can’t stay out of trouble!
Amelia Faulkner On Reading:
What book have you read more times than any other?
I used to obsessively re-read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis when I was little.
What is the latest book you’ve bought and read?
The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie.
What was the last book you absolutely fell in love with?
The Charm of Magpies series by K. J. Charles.
Is there a book you keep meaning to read, but haven’t gotten around to it? Don’t worry, we all have ridiculously long TBRs!
Shh, don’t tell anyone: I still haven’t read Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. I’ve had it for over ten years. Oops.
Do you recall the first piece of Erotica you ever read?
Ooo, hmm. I used to rifle through Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books for the sexy bits, then when Black Lace launched I grabbed whichever ones looked the kinkiest. Total, unrepentant perv!
Do you recall the first piece of Science Fiction you ever read?
Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat series. I know I read a lot of SF and Fantasy all through my childhood, but those were the first I really remember reading after mainlining Raymond E. Feist for ages.
Amelia Faulkner On Play Time:
When you’re not hard at work writing, what do you do with your time?
Roleplaying games, board games, Guild Wars 2, travel the world, take pictures… Read books 😀
What’s the first thing on your Bucket List?
I dunno. I keep doing all the things on my bucket list. Ain’t got time for regrets! I think the current one is the Trans-Siberian Express, but that’ll have to wait until Mr. F can get a month off work.
Do you have any pets?
Yes! I have two cats who hate each other, and a Corgi who loves them both.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
No guilt here! Bwaahaahaaa! I own my love of Wild Wild West!
Favorite Swear Word?
Amelia Faulkner has graciously offered to give away copies of this fabulous book to THREE lucky Smutsonian readers! Enter here:
About the Author:
Amelia Faulkner was born in the rolling green countryside of Oxfordshire, and moved to London once she was mostly grown up. She has a degree in Computer Science, and spent quite a long time working with computers until her childhood love of writing could no longer be ignored.
Since then she has written for corporate clients and personal pleasure, and finally stepped away from office-bound working in 2011 to freelance from home.
Amelia is also a keen photographer and film-goer, and resides in the city (not the City) with her husband. She is notoriously camera-shy.