Dear Ms. Dodd:
When I first heard that you were doing a paranormal series, I was a bit skeptical. Not every author has made the transition from contemporary or historical to paranormal well. I also will admit that I haven’t read you in years (2003 to be exact) because I was quite perturbed at your handling of the adoption issue in the Lost Texas Hearts series. I began the book with not a little cynicism.
Ann Smith is in love with her boss, Jasca Wilder. One day she’s given the opportunity to drop off some important paperwork at Jascha’s vacation home. Before going up, she gives herself a pep talk and a makeover and is determined to make a play for Jascha. She’s done with being shy and non assertive. Ann’s plans are quickly derailed when she sees Jascha morphing from a wolf to a man. Like any SMART woman would do, Ann flees. She forgets that this is a man she loves and just freaks out. She throws her stiletto at him, drawing blood, runs out of the house, hops into her car and speeds away. The problem is that there is a storm howling outside and her ability to navigate the moutainous twists and turns is impaired by her fear and the weather. The car eventually slides to a precarious halt on a side of a cliff. Ann knows that she has to run to escape this madman and she does, first by running in a stream in hopes of disorienting him and then just flat out running. But she can’t escape him. He is simply too strong, too fast.
Jascha is turned on by the chase – the animal in him is aroused. Jascha’s beast lies just under the surface and his actions toward Ann are very animalistic. I really liked this because so many werewolf stories featuring a caring, gentle type of shapeshifter. So when he catches her, all of Ann’s feelings rise up – her fear, her desire…
At one point, Ann describes herself as confused and horny. Jascha is a man she’s crushed on for four years. To be the object of the his attention is both gratifying and frustrating. Gratifying because it sates the lust she felt, but frustrating because she knows its all about satisfying Jascha’s base desires and fulfilling the legend rather than love. It’s her acknowledgment that this is a physical relationship that works for me:
Worse, she wasn’t running away now. She slid the icon into the robe’s pocket. She was going up to the master bedroom to soak in the hot tub.
Then she was going to snuggle in Jasha’s bed.
And for that, she believed she would eventually go to hell.
So she might as well make this a night to celebrate.
Jascha’s ability to shapeshift come from his ancestor’s deal with the devil. In return for obedience to the devil, Jascha’s ancestor received the power to shape shift. Until one man, Jascha’s father, fell in love with a woman and began to break the cycle of destruction. Based on an old prophecy, if the Jascha’s sons can return a priceless icon to the fold, the curse will be broken.
What made this work so well for me is that Ann smart and practical and appears self aware. Her reason for being a virgin were completely normal for Ann has a secret too. Ann knows that Jascha wants her only because of the legend and Jascha knows he must bind Ann to him because of the legend but the lust turns to something more, something deeper, and I believed that Jascha wholly loved Ann at the end of the story for herself rather than her contribution to the legend. The more that Ann got to know Jascha outside the office, the less she idolized him, the more she stood up to him.
This book did not lag for a second even though the plot was quite simple. There were no secondary love interests and the subject of the sequels did not appear too often or gratuitously. Exposition was kept to a minimum and the entire focus was on Ann and Jascha. I should also mention that this was a very hot read for you and I just don’t recall you writing such steamy passages in the past.
The weaknesses would be in continuity. I.e., when Ann was going up to Jascha’s mountain retreat, she was intending to say that she got caught in the weather and couldn’t return, but she has a suitcase and enters his house and unpacks the suitcase before presenting the papers to Jascha. Another point was when Jascha mentions that Ann has all the codes to his vault and secret hidey holes yet he is supposed to be keeping the family secrets super secret. But those were minor blips and I enjoyed the story quite a bit. B