By Jill James
- File Size: 294 KB
- Print Length: 254 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B008RDPN72
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0
Publication Date: July 31, 2012
HE IS MR. BY-THE-BOOK, WITH A SECRET...
Shapeshifters live among us but remain unknown to most people except for the highest echelons of law enforcement, the military, science, and medical fields--until now.
SHE IS A LOOSE CANNON WITH AN ATTITUDE...
When a fatal virus strikes Shapeshifters all over the West coast, including members of the Shapeshifter Task Force in San Laura, California, reinforcements are called in from around the United States.
TOGETHER, THEY JUST MIGHT CATCH A KILLER.
Lt. Nikki Hill of Missouri comes to San Laura and is partnered up with Lt. Sean Evans. They quickly butt heads on everything from proper police procedures to the moral ethics of euthanasia. They can't seem to get a lead on the serial killer even as members of their own families are stricken with the virus. In their grief they turn to each other and hope they have time to discover if their relationship stands a chance or if they might just be the next victims of the species extinction disease.
There is a race of shapeshifters in the world that is little known to ‘normal’ humans. These shifters generally have male and female shifter personalities, with one being their dominant shape. They have the ability to shift features, hair color, size and even to imitate other humans. Although there are latent animal traits they do not consciously shift to animal forms.
Lt. Sean Evans is a strong male cop; organized and by the book. He only uses his female side occasionally if needed for undercover work. His unit is suffering losses. A vicious virus has killed his partner’s mate and his partner, Rodriguez is missing and it is feared he has been kidnapped by the serial killer. The virus speeds up the metabolism of the shifters causing continual shifting that wastes the body in painful contortions. Clearly shifters are the targets and so far the scientists have not been able to locate a cure.
Lt. Nikki Hill is brought in from the midwest to help the investigation team that is trying to find and stop the virus and whoever is using it. Nikki is quick on her feet with an attitude that has allowed her to be strong and successful in her career.
Sean and Nikki have a bit of an antagonistic meeting but soon things heat up between them personally. Surprisingly, they work well as a team, with their strengths of organization and deductive thinking balancing well together. But they are soon at odds again when Nikki learns details about Sean’s family that he didn’t warn her about. They also have differing opinions on euthanasia being used to stop the suffering of the infected shifters. Nikki is appalled by the idea until she is faced with the issue in a personal situation.
The villain is wonderfully psychotic and twisted. It is sad that the villain has forced and wrapped others into the scheme to eliminate the shifter race. The virus strikes close to home and Sean and Nikki find themselves in a race to trace the few clues to the killer before they become the next victims.
There are plenty of plot twists and action that kept this a good suspenseful read. There were a few scenes I questioned in my mind but they weren't enough to detract from the enjoyment. There are also several pretty spicy romance scenes. The characters are well developed with distinct personalities that lead to conflict and passion. I enjoyed the arguments Ms. James presents on the society biases and prejudices as well as discussion of the mercy killing for the virus ravaged shifters. The writing flows well with good pacing that makes the book move fairly quickly.
If you enjoy romantic suspense and paranormal you should try this book. Even if you don’t normally read paranormal, if you are a strong romantic suspense reader I still recommend you try this as it has a lot to offer in suspense, conflict, romance and societal issues.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~Sean responds to Nikki’s attitude about ‘normal’ humans.
“If we call them norms, what does that make us? Abnormal? Most of the trouble in the world is from placing labels on each other.” Location 256.Nikki realizing that perhaps she could love Sean.
Love and happiness didn’t happen every day. Sometimes you missed what was right in front of you because you grew too busy rushing around trying to find it, and all the time it was there. Location 3176.
Thank you to the author for providing the eBook to review through Bewitching Book Tours. Giveaway of Two Print copies and $25.00 Gift Card at this link.This book will be added to my ARC and New Author Challenge lists.
Number of pages: 222
Word Count: 76,000
Cover Artist: Elaina Lee, For The Muse Designs
Jill James didn’t start out wanting to be an author. Along the way she wanted to be an astronaut, President of the United States, a lawyer, and a doctor. Once married with children she realized she could be all those things in the pages of the stories she wrote.
She lives in Northern California with her husband, who is the inspiration for all her romance novel heroes.
PrologueFort San Laura Army BaseSan Laura, CaliforniaMay 2017Sean Evans turned away as tears rolled down his ex-partner Colin Rodriguez’s face. The man sat by his fiancée’s bedside, her hand clasped in his, waiting for her to die. The sound of boot heels echoed up and down the hospital corridor. All marched past the closed door, none brave enough to stop at this room.Sean stared at the dying woman. Paulette’s red hair was the only color in the monochrome-toned hospital room. Colin’s hand shook as he brushed the hair back from Paulette’s sweaty face. The virus wreaked havoc on the young woman.Sean swallowed bile rising in his throat as the young Shapeshifter in the bed screamed. Her flesh boiled, roiling beneath the surface, and she screamed again. Her back arched off the bed. For months now, the Shapeshifter Task Force had been working to track down the cause of the virus and it struck close to home, killing two of their own. First, his own partner, Barry, and now, Paulette.Her fingers turned into talons that dug into Colin’s hand. Blood dripped from the cuts onto the crisp, white sheet. Colin held her hand; the only sign of his pain was the grimace on his tanned face.Sean rubbed his burning eyes, surprised to find tears on his own cheeks. He scrubbed the wetness away and raked his fingers through his hair. His tears wouldn’t help Paulette or Colin. Nothing could help them now. His hands clenched into fists at his side. He ached to punch a wall, anything to kill the tension in the room.A scream built in his throat. Just last week he had sat here, forced to watch the young man, new to the task force, breathe his last. He stared into the ceiling lights, his eyes watered with the brightness. He repeated his personal mantra of calm and cool until his emotions mellowed, until they no longer threatened to overwhelm him.He turned his head back as Paulette’s screams died down to whimpers. She had lost all control of her shifting. She grew fur and it disappeared. Her head changed shape as she shifted into a canine form, then a feline form, then back to her own. Her limbs flopped against the mattress as she convulsed. The shifting now happened every few seconds.Colin threw himself across her body as if he could stop the tragedy from its conclusion.“Noooo.” His voice ricocheted across the room and down the hall.Sean rushed to his best friend’s side and ripped him up off of the dying Shifter. No one had discovered yet how the virus was transmitted. They didn’t need masks and gloves anymore, not in the last several months at least, but no one wanted to find out what full-body contact might do.Colin struggled against Sean’s hold. Tears blurred Sean’s vision as Paulette struggled to breathe, and Colin’s cries became anguished sobs. His shoulders shook under Sean’s hands.The monitor blared as Sean searched Paulette for any life signs and found none. Her chest didn’t move. She was gone. Just like Barry. Just like all the other Shifters in the past few months.Sean turned away as Paulette’s flesh jellified and sank into the mattress, only a slight bump under the covers to show a living being had been there.Colin’s anguish pierced his soul, and when Colin threw himself across the bed again. Sean didn’t bother to stop him. What did it matter when his friend had just lost his partner and the love of his life?The sounds of harsh breaths and sobs still echoed in Sean’s ears when the door opened and the Captain of the Task Force rushed in. Sean turned to the man and shook his head.Captain Connors motioned for Sean to talk to him outside. Sean shot a quick look to Colin and followed the captain outside to the hallway.“Lieutenant Evans, with Robertson’s death today, added to the others, the task force is low on numbers. We will need to send word to the other task forces and ask for reinforcements.”Sean’s hands formed into fists at his side. The human captain made no bones about his dislike of Shapeshifters, but Paulette’s body wasn’t even cold yet and he drudged up business decisions.He took deep breaths and relaxed his hands. As the Lead Lieutenant in the task force, business took priority. Even over death.“Will you send a request to the Southwest office in Las Vegas?” Their own task force office covered the Northwest—Northern California, part of Nevada, and all of Oregon, Washington state, and Idaho.The captain shook his head. “A few cases have been reported in Los Angeles. We can’t risk it. I’ll request someone from the Midwest. No cases have been reported yet out there. There is a small task force in Columbia, Missouri, an hour outside St. Louis.”