linda gayle
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Claws On Silk

claws on silk

ISBN: 978-1-61118-568-3
Publisher: Loose ID
Release date: Sept. 6, 2011
Cover art: April Martinez

Blackmailed into acting as her family's assassin, Anna corners O'Riley, her prey, but is shocked to realize the farmer standing over him is another of her kind. A rare Varelse, a tigerlike creature bred to kill. Anna's drawn to Isak, who hasn't shifted for years but who sees Anna struggle with her dual nature. Sometimes cultured lady, sometimes bloodthirsty beast, Anna begs for help. Isak agrees -- if she'll spare O'Riley's life. In their sensual lessons, he awakens his own dark animal -- and unleashes her feral passion.

But there's a hitch – Patrick O'Riley, the charming blackguard she hunts, desires her too. What's more, he also wants Isak. And to Isak's surprise, the farmer finds he's curious about the three of them together.

Yet over their heads hangs the specter of Anna's blackmailer, her uncle, who wants Patrick dead. Knowing they must confront him and learn the truth, Anna, Isak, and Patrick embark on a journey that takes them over land and sea and pushes the boundaries of their turbulent relationship. With their lives on the line, the three surrender to the lure of claws on silk and the savage lust that entwines them with danger and desire.

 

excerpt

Isak Arnesen caught the salty-sweet odor before he saw her, and his body knew before his mind understood -- a full-blood Varelse lurked near him. A female? He hadn't known they could be women.

He kept books, lists of facts about Varelse. If he survived this encounter, he'd add this new bit of knowledge to his store of information. The smell of her obviously woke his own weakened version of the creature. The excitement of discovery didn't help soothe the dratted sensation coursing through him. He'd seen only one other being in the flesh, and that had been an old, old man -- his great-great-uncle.

The woman hidden behind the copse of trees didn't move. She'd frozen still as a statue, so she must know he was aware of her.

He didn't know what he could do, other than draw her attention away from the fool sprawled on the ground. If Isak ran, she'd follow, and perhaps he'd even outpace her, although, hell, that heady overlay of ozone to her scent told him she had a great deal more healthy Varelse blood than he did. It smelled like desire, and his belly lurched as he remembered the joy of that freedom, the release.

What had his uncle's notes said about encountering others? Would they fight for dominance? He could recall nothing. His thoughts vanished as his body grew too ensnared in her presence.

He shifted from one foot to the other slowly, standing, then moving to put himself between the unconscious man and the Varelse. He clutched his revolver, a second later realizing drawing it had been a stupid thing to do. She might consider it aggression. He certainly would.

He wanted to call out to her, to chirrup invitingly and speak to her as one would a nervous animal, but he had no idea if that would draw her attack faster. When his own Varelse rose inside him, he found the sound of a person's voice more irritating than soothing.

If he didn't do this correctly, one or more of them would end up dead. He suspected that he and the drunkard who'd wandered onto his land would be the dead ones.

Then he recalled something his great-great-uncle had had him write down years earlier. Advice for any human encountering a Varelse: go to him. Don't wait for him to hunt you down. You must be entirely unafraid, approach in a submissive position -- and you might survive.

As his great-great-uncle had pointed out, the trouble lay with the "unafraid" part. No sane person could manage that. And the submission -- that must not be taken too far, or the creature would interpret it as weakness. To know the difference meant life or death. Or so his great-great-uncle had said. Most people couldn't feel that difference. But after all, Isak wasn't entirely a person himself. For once he found comfort in that.

As the thoughts buzzed through his head, he forced himself to stand almost as motionless as she. He had to force himself to approach her instead of running the hell away. Obviously the Varelse didn't want to attack, or he would be dead or in a fight for his life by now. Why didn't she?

Was she hurt or sick?

Now a wave of concern for the woman washed through him. That was good, because it pushed off the fear but not the strange excitement. That old, almost forgotten, anticipation. The hunt. Years ago, before the famine, before constant hunger and thirst had weakened the Varelse in him, he'd craved that itch to change and to hunt.

Now, everything around him gleamed with the brilliance and clarity of the old days. His heart beat as quickly. Ah, but therein lay the difference. For the first time in his life, he was potential prey. A new version of the longing filled him.

He felt alive.

He moved slowly toward the trees and the Varelse, the gun loose at his side. The fear wasn't going to vanish entirely, but he'd ignore it and concentrate on the life coursing through him. Tilting his head, he exposed his throat.

Silence, except for his harsh breathing. She would hear his panting fear. To cover it, he began to sing an old drinking song another of his long-dead uncles, a sailor, had taught him, and he slowly strolled toward the trees where danger waited.

He glimpsed a flash of orange and yellow fur wrapped in the remains of a white blouse and blue skirt, and she sprang. The transformed woman. The full Varelse, sleekly feline, primitive yet elegant. And utterly lethal. He had to look, which helped him fight the instinct to protect himself by curling into a ball. Good, because anything defensive would draw her fangs to his throat.

She drove him to the ground. Stones bit into his back, and the sun haloed the outline of her predatory muzzle and glistening fangs, but he forced himself to stay as still as possible.

The sleek hide pressed against him. In his state of hyperawareness, he could see every detail of her lithe body, the catlike curves, the fluid muscles beneath the quivering flank, even the stitching in the tatters of the clothing still clinging to her. The heat of her breath washed against his bare throat, the knife-edge of her claws dug into his arms as she forced him to drop the gun.

He breathed. His throat remained unripped.

Isak tilted his head up to look directly into her orange eyes that glowed less than two feet above him. Savage, cold, lion's eyes, yet like no lion that had ever walked beside man. A unique creation of a cruel god, the lean Varelse outweighed the pumas that roamed the mountains, and her canines curved slightly past her lower jaw like ivory scimitars. Gold stripes spangled her glossy pelt, and four-inch claws pricked his skin. A living nightmare from the dawn of time, growling softly on his chest. English -- all language -- deserted him. He whimpered, but more than fear pushed that noise from his throat. Beautiful.

He had to transform and have her. The Varelse he'd thought had died in him slid along his veins, making his mouth water, his skin itch.

Isak forced it back. Later, later, he promised the Varelse that flooded his body and his cock with heady, unfamiliar desire. Now he must control the lust and fear.

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reviews

Summer Devon and Linda Gayle introduce a new breed of catlike shifter. Anna thinks she is the only one of her kind. Meeting Isak gives her hope that she is not an abomination. As Anna bonds with Patrick and Isak she dreams of a life without killing. The authors take the reader along as Anna takes a journey and discovers an overpowering love for two men. Patrick and Isak are powerless to resist Anna's charms or the attraction they feel for each other. Will Anna's past destroy her future? - Sensual Reads

Read full review here: http://sensualreads.com/?p=7715

 

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