I had the privilege of sitting next to this sassy, sweet and hilarious author during the Romanticon book fair so when I found out she wrote shifter erotic romance, I fell in love Aline Hunter her just a wee bit more :) Right after the signing, I downloaded book one in her Alpha and Omega series, Omega Mine. The first few sentences drew me in, by the end of chapter one, I was hooked.
What impressed me most about this book is that though it is dark, moody and full of delicious paranormal creatures, there's a humorous undercurrent to the narrative. I also loved the fact that the human heroine, Ava Brisbane (a telepath in her own right) actually *questions* whether she wants to enter into a relationship with a shifter. I applauded Ava's strength and internal struggle, a refreshing alternative to the typical fawning paranormal romance heroine.
Diskant Black is--*Cindy fans self*--well, he's everything you want a shifter hero to be. Though he's the Omega, the peacekeeper and his word is law, he has a deliciously wicked sense of humor. Again, his strength and beauty shines through on every page and I couldn't help but fall in love with him.
Aline does a terrific job of weaving together this exciting, romantic and daring tale. I laughed, I cried (there are some sad parts...I won't let any spoilers slip, but you have been warned!) and these characters will stay with me for a long, long time. I'm so thrilled book two is already available because I'm all over it like white on rice: http://www.jasminejade.com/p-10034-enemy-mine.aspx
Book one in the Alpha and Omega series.
A bond forged in blood. Fealty given to the one he desires above all others.
Graced with the ability to shift into any form, Diskant Black is the absolute authority when it comes to New York shifters, and as the Omega of the city, his word is law. Protecting the shifter races is more than a job, it’s a predisposition ingrained since birth—nothing is more important.
Until a chance encounter with a tiny female sets fire to his blood, brings him to his knees and turns his world upside down. Ava Brisbane is more than he bargained for in a mate—beautiful, fragile…human. If he wants to keep her by his side, he’ll have to sacrifice a portion of his soul to establish a bond that can never be broken.
Unfortunately, the timing couldn’t be worse. Shepherds—hunters of all the shifter races—have arrived in New York. To protect the woman he can’t live without, Diskant will have to stand against those who have come to start a war.
Copyright © ALINE HUNTER, 2011
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
The alley was dark, cold and empty—with no sign of Jonathan Roberts.
“Damn,” Ava Brisbane cursed under her breath and glanced from left to right. Nothing but brick, chilly air and asphalt greeted her from either direction. And just like a bad horror movie, a heavy gray fog was a-rollin’ in.
Lifting her left hand and shoving aside her jacket, she glanced at the thick black leather cuff on her wrist. 12:49 a.m. Yep, it was definitely time to get a move on. The liaison wasn’t coming and being caught out at this hour—in the godforsaken Bronx—was just plain stupid. All kinds of things came out when the sun went down. Things that would eat her flesh and pick their teeth clean with her bones.
The soft humming of the cell phone inside her back pocket vibrated against her ass, tickling her skin through the thin, stretchy denim. She knew who was calling because the same person who gifted her with the electronic device was the only one who knew the number—the annoying, scheming and blackmailing bastard Craig Newlander.
Rolling her eyes, she pulled the thin piece of metal from her jeans, flipped it open and placed it to her ear. “He’s not here.”
“I know that.” Craig’s voice was a deceptive device used to gain favor. He sounded amiable, polite and downright sexy. Too bad he was an asshole, poser and opportunist. “Jonathan was forced to seek shelter when he got a tail. Get out of there and go home. I’ll contact you tomorrow.”
“Wait a minute,” she snapped, attempting to remain calm and keep her voice hushed. “You told me that if I came and exchanged the packages, you would return the locket for services rendered. That was the deal.”
“I’ll contact you tomorrow.”
A loud click echoed in her ear and the line went dead.
Ava extended her arm, glowered at the cell phone and snarled, “You dirty rotten pig bastard!”
For a moment she considered chucking the device across the way and achieving a perverse—but fleeting—satisfaction at its demise. Instead she returned it to her pocket and seethed inwardly. Craig could kiss her ass after she wiped the floor with his. Once she had possession of the locket her useless brother pawned, that’s exactly what she planned do to the arrogant piece of shit.
Her shoulders suddenly felt heavy, laden with the burden of obligation.
Sweet baby Jesus, the entire situation was whack. She was a bartender who peddled drinks for a living, not a hoity-toity Villati who lived off stocks and mutual funds. And if she knew what was best for a continued life expectancy, she would keep it that way. The preternatural investigators who unearthed the existing names and secrets of the supernatural families across the world didn’t last long. Most of the time their obituaries ran in the paper at the same time their findings were bound, recorded and placed in the Villati registry.
Thinking about the circumstances that brought her to this dangerous location incensed her further and she vented her frustrations via the fingers that adjusted the strap attached to the leather messenger bag draped across her chest.
Her brother, Thomas, was a bonafide loser. He’d piddled all of the money left by their parents to nourish his gambling addiction and started hocking their valued belongings when he hit a losing streak. First it was antique silverware and vintage vases. Then, when she noted their absence, he went for the throat and hocked the jewels.
If she hadn’t been neck deep in a horrible relationship that was doomed to sink yet she felt obligated to repair, she might have noticed the debt collectors and the phone calls. As it happened, she didn’t get hip to the deception until all of Thomas’ fortune was gone. They were forced to sell the home in Greenwich their mother and father had worked so hard for to save his wretched ass, along with all of the belongings left following their unexpected deaths.
But one treasure had remained hers—the Brisbane family locket, passed down for generations. The platinum piece of jewelry was meant to continue along as a link to the past and it would have until Thomas, in the throes of addiction, had paid her a visit a month previous under the guise of needing a place to sleep for the night. The following morning the locket was gone and within a week she got a visit at her place of employment from a Mr. Craig Newlander, the big Villati head cahoona, an asshole of epic proportions and a persistently annoying burr in her ass.
Ava ground her teeth together and exhaled slowly.
She avoided Villatis at every turn, even as they tried to establish a connection. All of her family—with the notable exception of Thomas—had been blessed with some form of mentalism. Be it something minor, like being able to hear someone else’s thoughts or something substantial, like being able to control and manipulate the will of others. She possessed the latter of the two talents, and that made her a prime candidate for enrollment in their ranks.
Something she absolutely, positively didn’t want to think about.
Mortal minds were cake but supernatural ones such as those of vampires, shifters and magic casters were beyond her capacity. She couldn’t hear them or feel them, and since she couldn’t outsmart, outmatch or outrun them either, it was like walking into a lion’s den smeared in lamb’s blood with a flashing “eat me” sign.
“Damn you, big brother,” she muttered and then sighed, “And damn me too.”
Begrudgingly accepting her fate, she turned, retrieved the cell phone to call a cab and began a quiet trek toward the end of the alley. When the first shadow appeared in front of her, she knew she was in trouble. Then she heard the voice of a second just behind her.
“Well, well, well,” a melodic lilt that only could belong to a vampire cooed. “What do we have here?”
* * * * *
Diskant Black reveled in the visceral sounds of his Harley Night Train as the brisk autumn air caressed his face. Making the trip to this part of the Five Boroughs was something he never enjoyed but when a stray wandered into his city it meant a proper introduction was in order. The rogue werepanther wasn’t very bright but he’d got the message. This was Diskant’s territory, his domain, and as an Omega—the most powerful of all lycanthropes—his word was law. A lot changed over the centuries but one thing remained the same. Only an Omega bore the mark of all the races and possessed the ability to change into any of them. That meant total submission and respect was bestowed to him among the shifters. In the city that never sleeps he was in charge, and it wasn’t open to discussion.
Inhaling deeply, he absorbed the combined scents of concrete, dirt, water, garbage and exhaust fumes into his lungs. The sour tang of fear enhancing each scent didn’t come as a monumental surprise and wouldn’t have concerned him if the sticky sweet stench of vampire wasn’t combined with it. He snorted, removed the stink from his nose and inhaled again. Deeper this time. It was definitely fear he scented and the sharp, sour smell was pouring off a human. He gripped the bars of the bike and shook his head. It was the wrong place at the wrong time for some dumb schmuck. Probably some addict looking to score or a homeless person who’d picked the wrong stretch of garbage dumpster to sleep in.
Then a roar of outrage sounded nearby, an undeniable battle cry, and revealed the gender of the victim. “Fuck you!” a sultry female voice thundered.
Well, hot damn. Leaving a male to fend for himself he could do but never a damsel in distress.
Diskant dredged in another cool lungful of air, searching for the source of the sour taint of terror and fury. It wasn’t very far…
“Gotcha.” He applied the brake, slung his right leg around and brought his foot to the road and turned the bike in the proper direction.
He found what he was looking for three alleys over. The female had obviously tried to fight—the burning tingle in his nostrils told him that pepper spray had been used—but her lifeless body dangled over the shoulder of one of the leeches nonetheless.
Lowering the kickstand with a flick of his heel, he cut the motor and rose from the leather seat. The unencumbered vampire turned while his companion shifted her small body on his shoulder and began walking in the opposite direction.
“This doesn’t concern you, shifter.”
Diskant swung his right leg up, over and dismounted the bike. He took long, deliberate steps, making a steady and unhurried trek down the alley. The vampire in his path wasn’t much of an obstacle but he wasn’t supposed to be. Diskant recognized the game. It was a classic strategy he’d used with his pack on several occasions—the old bait and switch. One distracts the threat while the other gets away with the bounty. No fuss, no muss. Having a discussion with the vampire approaching would see that female long gone and, more than likely, dead.
He waited until he was nearly upon the vampire before he broke out in a sprint, his long leather coat forming wispy tails behind him. Issuing a muffled plea for forgiveness, he plowed into the back of the vampire carrying the female and sent her tiny body soaring into the air. She didn’t make a sound when she landed on the unforgiving cushion of concrete and grime and he almost gave in to the temptation to see how badly she was injured.
The vampires attacked him as one, delivering blows and kicks that were too fast to counter. A fist caught his chin just as a foot got too damn close to his balls for reproductive comfort. Another fist skimmed the surface of his stomach while another came at his nose. Dodging to the right, he met an unforgiving set of knuckles that made his teeth rattle. That was followed by a blow to his chest.
Goddamn vampire speed. Blood drinkers were superior in that regard but it didn’t really matter.
Shifters were stronger.
Diskant rotated his shoulders, threw the leeches clear of his body and called on the bear within. He smiled as the woodsy scent of grizzly oozed from his skin—fragrant, potent, feral. Lethal claws extended past his fingers while his teeth elongated, becoming cone shaped, the tips as sharp as razors.
While he wouldn’t win any beauty contests, the physical changes had the intended effect. Two swipes of his hands in either direction ravaged skin and drew blood, rending tissue in half as flesh peeled from bone. The stench of fear tickled like wet paint in his nose, burning his nostrils, and the expressions of the vampires when they got hip to who they were fucking with was priceless.
With a throaty roar, he issued challenge.
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