Today I’d like to share a bit of fun world building in my shifter series, The Wolf Within. I’ve had four books experiment with and what started out as small detail in the first book, Beneath the Skin, has evolved into an important part of the Great Pack’s culture.
Who doesn’t like a nice bit of jewelry, right?
When my main character, Constance Newcastle was born, her mother, Lauren, chose a stone for her new daughter to represent her Pack heritage. In recent times, the trend is to choose a birthstone to correspond with the baby’s birth month, but it hasn’t always been that way.
Lauren kept this stone, a peridot because Stanzie was born in August, safe until Stanzie turned twenty.
Twenty is the age of majority in the Great Pack.
On her twentieth birthday, Stanzie’s present was her birthstone mounted on a pendant and suspended from a chain.
Bond pendants are worn to all pack functions, but most people tend to wear them every day.
Once a pack member turns twenty and is given their bond pendant, they have six years to find a bond mate. Unbonded at age twenty-seven means pack status is revoked and the person is no longer is expected to contribute, but she cannot count on help from the pack if she needs it. She won’t be driven out, but she will not be treated as an equal any longer.
This rule exists so that fertile females have every opportunity to become Alpha and bear a child. Although any fertile female can get pregnant, only Alphas are allowed to bring the pregnancies to term. Unbonded females (or males) can’t be Alphas.
A person keeps his original birthstone throughout his lifetime, and when he bonds, his new bond mate gives him her birthstone to add to his pendant. (Not her original birthstone, but one she buys as a gift.) He does the same for her in return.
These birthstones are then combined with each other and each half of the bonded pair now has a double pendant instead of a single. In the event they form a triad, they have a triple pendant.
These pendants are presented to each other in decorative boxes during the bonding ceremony.
Generally, a lot of thought goes into these boxes. For example, when Stanzie and Grey bonded with Elena, they selected a box with painted cats on it because Elena adored cats. (Unfortunately for her, because she was Pack, most cats took one sniff of her hand, spat, and raced away.)
Stanzie and Liam’s bonding took place only a few days after they met each other. Yet they both chose boxes that appealed to the other. Maybe they were lucky, maybe they connected at a meta level they weren’t yet aware of.
Pack can tell at a glance whether someone is bonded and whether they are in a duo or triad simply by looking at bond pendants.
Each individual pack also has a distinctive piece of jewelry to represent it. Usually a ring or bracelet, they are also given out when a person reaches age twenty or when they join a new pack.
Stanzie’s new pack, Mac Tire, has an abstract silver ring that is reminiscent of claws.
Her birth pack, Mayflower, has a silver and gold ring that was purportedly designed by Paul Revere. Rumor has it that Paul Revere was Pack, but that is likely apocryphal.
I am not sure where I came up with the bond pendant concept, but I know the pack jewelry was inspired by a ring I bought at the Christmas market on the Champs Elysees in Paris. Handmade and gorgeous, whenever I look at it, I think of Mac Tire and my shifters.
I guess that makes me a proud member of Mac Tire, doesn’t it? No, wait. I’m not bonded and I’m over twenty-six. Maybe they’ll make an exception. I know the Alphas personally!
There's no place like home...or is there?
When Stanzie is asked to investigate her birth pack- Mayflower--she isn't prepared for what she finds.
No one respects the Alphas and the newest adult member of the pack is being encouraged to leave. Why? To make matters worse, the men are dangerously intent on mating and shifting with her.
How far will the pack she thought she knew go to get what they want? Without her bond-mate, Liam, Stanzie must face this alone and, barely ahead of threat of violence, must solve the mysteries, and fast.
WARNING: Vulgar language, sexual situations, group sex, violence
A Lyrical Press Paranormal Romance
Inside Out (The Wolf Within)
by Amy Lee Burgess
Barnes & Noble
Alan looked at me and panic flooded his silver blue eyes. “Stanzie.” My name was a horrified plea.
I could see the ghost of a wolf’s muzzle beneath his mouth. He held out a hand and recoiled when he saw the dark fur on his palm.
“Take off your clothes, Alan,” I urged, but he stood there, transfixed. I hastily unbuttoned his plaid shirt and pushed it off his shoulders. “Help me,” I cried as I tugged at his sleeve.
“I don’t know what’s happening to me,” he whispered. His body gave a bone crunching shudder and he stared at Faith and Scott’s wolves, terror etched across his face. The wolves waited together, shoulder to shoulder. It was a damn good thing I hadn’t shifted myself. Poor Alan was clueless.
I fumbled with the button on his fly and then the zipper. His throat rippled and he threw back his head and howled. The noise nearly scared the shit out of me, but I somehow managed to get his zipper down and then I pushed him onto his ass so I could pull his jeans off. He was no help at all, caught in the throes of the first emergence of his wolf. His body morphed in and out of focus. It was like trying to undress someone by strobe light and I had to shut my eyes so I wouldn’t lose my concentration. Alan whimpered and whined. Shifting was painful sometimes--especially when we fought it and he was. He didn’t know how to relax into the chaos and let it flow. He still struggled for control, for a way to reason out the process, and that was impossible. Shifting did not make sense. It just happened.
“Let go. Alan, just go with it,” I coached in a quiet voice as I sat as near as I could to him. He writhed on the pine needles and screamed as his bones shifted beneath his skin. “It hurts less if you just let go.”
“Stanzie!” My name turned into an anguished howl and just when I had begun to get scared, it happened. Alan blinked out of this plane and when he blinked back in, he was shifted.
His wolf was gorgeous. Dusky black with ice-blue eyes. A touch of gray at the tips of each paw. Big too. Bigger than Scott’s gray wolf. He rolled to his feet and sprawled onto his face when he tried to walk. Two legs to four was a bitch for some people. It had never fazed me, but Grey told me it had taken him half an hour to figure out how the hell to walk the first time he’d shifted. I grinned to remember the story and reached out to pat Alan’s wolf on the head. He whined at me.
“Get up and walk. Four legs are fun,” I told him. I was on my hands and knees now, so we could look eye to eye. If he got up, that is. Faith’s wolf pranced over and nudged him with her dainty muzzle. He whined again and she gave a coughing bark. In wolf speak she told him to get off his ass.
Scott’s wolf approached me and stared at me so hard I knew he tried to tell me something, but I couldn’t figure out what. Then it hit me. Duh. I was still in human form.
I stood up so I could strip off my jeans and t-shirt. Scott’s wolf waited impatiently. Alan’s wolf had gained his wobbly feet but seemed stuck in one position. When Faith’s wolf nudged his back end with her nose, he promptly fell over again and I snickered. Alan’s wolf gave me a reproachful look and I patted his head in apology. Scott’s wolf moved behind me and bumped the back of my knees so hard I fell over. Alan’s wolf wheezed with lupine laughter. “At least I can walk on all fours,” I muttered. Naked, I crawled away a few feet to give myself space for shifting. Only nothing happened.
The Cafe Review:
I love Urban Fantasy (it's my genre of choice), especially anything Shifter, so I was really looking forward to reading this book and boy, Amy Lee Burgess does not disappoint! I don't believe in including spoilers in my reviews, so I'm just going to give my general opinion of the story.
This is book #4 of The Wolf Within Series (I haven't read the first three books), but I had no trouble picking up the story line. After reading Inside Out, I will be ordering the first three books, and I'm looking forward to book #5 - This is my new favorite series!
Amy Lee Burgess is a talented author with a wonderful descriptive voice and excellent world-building skills that allow the reader to suspend reality and invest in the story. Her story line is original, with enough intrigue to keep me wanting more, her writing is smooth and seamless and her characters have strength and depth. Honestly, I can't think of anything I didn't love about this book, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading Urban Fantasy. I feel Inside Out earns a 5 Cup Review!
**I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and participation in a Virtual Book Tour hosted by Buy the Book Tours.**
Amy Lee Burgess
Amy Lee Burgess wrote her first ghost story at age ten. Born in New England, she has also lived in New Orleans and Houston, survived fires, floods, hurricanes, divorce and the premature cancellation of several of her favorite television shows. Turning her back on such shocking betrayals, she is now writing about ghosts, vampires, and other paranormal things and is much happier for it.