I tend to get in reading rut, like my choice in foods–I find something tasty and it’s all I eat for the next month. With reading I will be taken with a topic and read nothing but that for a while: YA, Science Fiction, stepbrothers, motorcycle clubs, Classics, shifters, urban fantasy, ménage, vintage romances… Then I will read something off the menu and it will blow me the eff away. Since I buy a lot of books (upward of 150-200/month) I sometimes flip through my e-reader and select a book by cover not knowing what in hell I’m getting into because Kindle doesn’t show me blurbs, and I’m stuck just pants-ing my novel choice. Some are winners, some are losers–this was a blue ribbon selection, and how I came to read Xaman. (And I don’t regret my cover loving in the least because the book was amazekitties.)
Rachael Monroe is a biologist working on her Ph.D in The jungles of Belize. She is looking for an unknown/undiscovered hummingbird in a region called Devil’s Vale. Throughout her life the historical Mayan area has interested her and she chose it inparticular because when she first saw the region on a map she felt a pull to it. With her on this exploration is her fiancé; Josh who is so many ways not right for her since Rachael has settled for the guy who was there as an escape from her family’s meddling. Josh isn’t all she had hoped to romance him up to be, her constant inner conscience actually has to remind her to be nicer to him. Total relationship fail. It’s like that saying that traveling with someone is the only way you can really know who the person is. Josh is a disappointment and irritation. Rachael keeps trying to justify being with him because he’s her fiancé. Rachael, babe, If you have to rationalize your relationship you need a new one.
San Rosario, the town she and Josh are staying, is small and mainly filled with locals; the outsiders are truck drivers and passer-bys. While it is almost nothing more that a pit stop, the locals are quite accepting of tourists: Rachael has had a really great experience with the denizens of San Rosario. While she is alone, enjoying a drink at the local watering hole, she is preyed upon by a persistent truck driver who doesn’t know how to take a strongly stressed hint. She is rescued by a mysterious man, who beats the poop out of the persistent drunk dude and his fellow dudes, before taking her to the safety of her hotel. He seems to have quite a strange effect on everyone in San Rosario, and besides being drop dead magnetic Rachael is at a loss to why.
The region of Belize that San Rosario is located in is of importance because it’s tie to Mayan Civilization, which Rachael has a fairly broad knowledge of, culturally speaking. Xaman is conundrum. Rachael’s dreams are connecting him to ritual sacrifices and lusty thoughts, but he has been nothing but protective and respectful. When she begins seeing more of him around San Rosario he starts tripping a familiarity that she can’t explain. As you can guess this is causing all the more distance with her and Josh. When the truth of Xaman’s importance to Rachael begins to surface she finds that her destiny has always been tied to him. The why of this connection she must uncover.
The mystery and hints that lead you through the story make the plot chocolate cake compelling. Xaman is multidimensional and sweet tasting on your eyes, and Rachael isn’t that bad either. Together their history and connection are almost inspirational, like the death by chocolate slices my guy and I built our first bits of happiness on. If I have any complaints it would be that there is a strange voice written into the beginning that feels formal and clinical. Some of the regional information and introductions read like a Fromer’s Travel Guide to Belize. As the book’s pace picks up it becomes easier to read and impossible to put down. This novel is superior. AND you can get it from Kindle Unlimited for a free read. I did that and I’m going to buy it too, because I will want to read this again.
If you like Xaman you should pick up Kate Brallier’s The Boundless Deep because they both have that love to last a lifetime thingie going on!
In the jungles of Belize, an ancient power lurks, and American grad student Rachael Monroe is about to come face to face with it. But is it a monster from a long-dead culture, or something far more dangerous? And who is Xaman, the mysterious local man Rachael finds so inexplicably fascinating?
Seeking answers to these questions will lead Rachael deeper into the heart of a centuries-old mystery that might reveal to her a love that can surpass even death… or her own gruesome end.
Simone Beaudelaire Books:
The room beyond that door was a cramped little office with a large metal desk dominating most of the available space. In addition to this metallic behemoth, there were also a couple of antique file cabinets, a smaller wood desk against a side wall and a few chairs peppered all over the place. As soon as the door closed behind her, Rachael noticed that two of the chairs were occupied. Sitting beside the massive desk was Captain Alirio Montoya, who was distantly related to Alphonso, Josh and Rachael’s guide for their jungle rambles. In fact, the couple had met him on their first day in San Rosario, when they went directly to the only person in town with a semblance of reliable authority for a referral that would lead them to a local guide they could trust.
Captain Montoya had the incredible misfortune of resembling the Hollywood caricature of a Latino Bad Guy right out of a B- movie; he was overweight, with a bushy, luxuriant moustache framing the corners of his mouth. Badly shaven jowls complemented this Bad Man image. When Alirio Montoya decided to put on a frown, he managed to look quite menacing (which probably helped him a lot in his daily police work), but he was the sweetest person Rachael had met so far in this corner of the world.
A man she had seen the other night was occupying the other chair. He was the bear- like trucker, the one who had tried to intervene in the altercation she’d had with that rude guy— what was his name?— Matt… no Mark, that was it. Mark DeWitt. The bulky trucker was glaring at her. Captain Montoya looked up at Rachael and smiled. “Welcome, Miss Monroe,” he addressed her. “Good afternoon. I regret that we must meet again under these awkward circumstances, but a serious affair has arisen and it seems to concern you.” The sergeant had drawn a chair closer, offering it to Rachael, who accepted gracefully and slid onto the worn surface. “What’s this all about, captain?” she asked. “Why did you bring Josh in for interrogation?”
The captain’s eyes shifted meaningfully in the trucker’s general direction. “Please, Miss Monroe,” he said slightly irritated. “It will all go quicker if we follow strict standard procedures. But to ease your mind, you were absent when we arrived at your room to ask you some questions, so we brought him instead, to find out your whereabouts all morning long. As you can see, he didn’t know. And here you are. May we proceed?”
“Great,” the captain said, his eyes returning to focus on her. “According to this man, it appears you were involved last night in a scuffle of some sort with one of his friends— is that true?”
Rachael had no qualms about telling the truth. “Yes, that is so,” she said. “Mark DeWitt. He was very drunk and— ”
The captain shook his head furiously, interrupting Rachael’s declaration. “Irrelevant at this moment. We’ll see if it concerns the case later,” he said while grabbing a pencil. Then he scribbled something down in a legal pad. Crazily, Rachael took notice that he was left- handed. Geez! This was getting more and more surreal with every passing second. Why should she care about such a minute, unimportant detail? “This gentleman claims that another man got involved in your discussion. Who was he?”
“Captain, I fail to see the importance of such a minor difficulty,” Rachael protested, which was met with another of Montoya’s furious headshakes. She relapsed into silence.
“Miss Monroe, the importance is that this man’s friend is missing,” the captain explained, slamming the pencil against the surface of the desk. It made a loud bang! sound that seemed to infuse with its power into every molecule of air present in the room. “He was last seen by Mr. Forrester, exiting the cabin of his truck to –” Here, Captain Alirio Montoya hesitated, perhaps trying to find better words than the ones he probably had in mind. “— take care of a call of nature,” he finished saying. “DeWitt’s truck and current cargo are still parked in the lot next to La Burriquita . We traced some tracks into the near bushes, but that didn’t take us too far, so I’m just following all the leads. I understand, by Mr. Forrester statement, that this yet unnamed man knocked DeWitt unconscious and then you two walked away from the bar. Who was this guy?” Captain Montoya lowered his eyes toward the notepad, ready to continue his notes.
Rachael glanced in Lou Forrester’s direction. The huge man looked quite smug right now, with both his meaty arms crossed in front of his chest, seeming to enjoy all this.
“Okay, I only know this other man as Xaman,” Rachael finally said, surrendering the information.
Captain Alirio Montoya looked up sharply from his notes. He twisted his neck, looking at his underling. Sergeant Garcia, who had been standing directly on Rachael’s left during the entire interview, looked rather pale. Montoya and he exchanged glances. Both men looked somewhat crestfallen by this new revelation. Rachael frowned a bit.
What’s going on? She thought. What’s the deal with Xaman that the mere mention of his name or his presence seems capable of silencing a roomful of people?
Captain Montoya tore off the top sheet of the legal pad and began to fold it into quarters. Then he proceeded to rip it into several strips, right before crumpling them into a ball that he tossed into the wastebasket sitting next to his gigantic desk.
“My sincerest apologies, Miss Monroe,” Montoya said in a voice full of sincere regret. “I guess there has been a terrible misunderstanding. You’re free to go.”
At hearing this, Lou Forrester straightened in his seat, uncrossing his arms. “What’s this?” he asked in a disgruntled tone of voice. He had lost his entire self- righteous demeanor in the blink of an eye, and his big, round face showed hectic red circles of rage at the cheeks. He rose to his feet, closing his hands into fists that were ready to strike. “My buddy’s missing and you’re letting the bitch go? I know she’s involved. What sort of shitty Third World craphole justice is this?”
Captain Montoya frowned mightily. “You stay quiet, Mr. Forrester, and you better retract that… or I’ll have Sergeant Garcia throw you into the drunk’s cell we have at the back,” he admonished the irate trucker.
“Like fuck I will!”
Lou roared. “Captain,” Montoya addressed his underling as he rose from his desk, rolling up the sleeves of his shirt. Rachael was astounded by the spectacle of a man of such mass who finally decides it’s time to start moving it around. If she had ever thought Lou Forrester was a huge, bear- like creature, here was a man who could surpass him in strength pound for pound, muscle for muscle… and he wore a police uniform, which meant he could do pretty much as he wanted in his sunny little tropical country. “Please escort the lady out of the station. Meanwhile, I think I’ll have a few extra words with our disrespectful guest.” Then, to Rachael he said, “I hope this entire odious incident hasn’t soured your opinion about San Rosario and its inhabitants, Miss Monroe, and that you’re still willing to come to our town’s founding festival, next weekend.”
“Rest assured, captain,” Rachael said wanly. “I wouldn’t miss it for all the tea in China.”
©2015 Simone Beaudelaire & Edwin Stark
Meet Simone Beaudelaire:
Simone Beaudelaire is the pseudonym for a single mom and graduate student from Texas. In her spare time, Mme Beaudelaire reads romances as fast as she can get her hands on them, and when she isn’t reading them, she’s writing them!
Published works include Watching Over the Watcher, Keeping Katerina, High Plains Holiday, Hihg Plains promise, When the Music Ends, When the Words are Spoken, When the Heart Heals, The Naphil’s Kiss, Baylee Breaking and several others, but more are in the works.
Meet Edwin Stark:
Hello, my name’s Edwin Stark, and I was born in Caracas, Venezuela. That’s South America for the few geographically-challenged ones out there. I suppose that somehow the stork had just stumbled out from a pub while it was delivering me, (it was confused to say the least) and mishandled my humble persona, leaving me stranded in this unlikely place.
So far, I wrote four books: AI Rebellion, a rather preachy cyberpunk thriller that still shows the struggle of switching languages (and I only recommend people to read it if they’re on an archeological mood, as in if they’re interested in seeing my progress as a writer), Eco Station One, a very bizarre and funny satire, the aforementioned Cuentos, and The Clayton Chronicles, a rather cookie-cut vampire tale. All these are available for the Kindle reader on Amazon, in paperbacks and all e-book formats in Smashwords.
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