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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Storm Shadows by Caitlyn Hunter

Storm Shadows by Caitlyn Hunter
Publisher: L and L Dreamspell
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (217 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 5 Cherries
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Can Betty Sue snare one of the few remaining cougars in the Blue Ridge Mountains and find her fairy tale ending?

Betty Sue’s grandfather calls her a “pert-near” woman, meaning everything about her is ordinary, maybe even a little dull. When her friend, Nathan, inadvertently puts her job as a middle-school librarian in danger, he offers her the use of his cabin on Eternity Mountain while she waits for the school board to decide her fate. She accepts, grateful for the chance to chase a dream or two, determined to become something more than a “pert-near” woman.

When she meets Nathan’s blood-brother, Marcus, she’s literally knocked off her feet. And when he tells her the truth about what he is, an immortal shape-shifter living under an ancient curse, Betty Sue doesn’t care, not when he has her dreaming of happily ever after.

Despite being hurt and confused when he tells her he loves her but he can't ever marry her, Betty Sue risks her life to save him from one of the deadliest creatures on Eternity Mountain. As she recuperates in the hospital, she makes up her mind not to give him up without a fight and with the help of his brothers goes back up the mountain to confront him.

Combine a cougar shifter and a prophesy with a klutzy heroine and a reader gets transported to a world where the future is unwritten and love has its own magic.

Storm Shadows is the second book in the Eternal Shadows series by Ms. Hunter. I’d enjoyed the first book tremendously and was looking forward to see if the author could pull off another well written tale and I am pleased to say she absolutely did.

I enjoyed the character of Betty Sue Corn and liked how the author lets a reader into her head to see her dreams, hopes and her embarrassments. The best thing about Betty Sue is her growth. When I first met her she was cute and ineffectual. What I mean is that she never could let the strength of the warrior woman inside of her get out, she is a peacemaker – not quite a doormat but close to it. As the story progresses and she meets Marcus, she experiences what it’s like to have faith in herself and she finally becomes the confident woman she was always meant to be. She’s still sweet and nice about it but that strength comes through nicely and sometimes it’s pretty comical.

Once again, I get to see Jonathan/Nathan doing his woo-woo thing and I can’t wait until he gets his own story. I adore his eyes. Anyway, I think Ms. Hunter is saving the best for last, not that the hero, Marcus, is any slouch. He isn’t. But he’s all wrapped up in what the future holds and he lets the fear of it take over. Oh, I don’t think his character would ever admit to the fear; he is very good at rationalizing it in a way only a man can. Marcus has a strong personality but he’s not invincible; he’s caring and can’t seem to stay away from the heroine no matter how hard he tries --which I found endearing. Some of my favorite scenes in the book are his interactions with Betty Sue’s ornery kitty, Groucho. Having her pet with her provided all sorts of interesting opportunities for Marcus to show what a hero he actually was.

Although this book is part of a series, the references to the previous book are done to augment what goes on in Storm Shadows and it stands alone on solid ground. This story is about Marcus’ redemption and Betty Sue’s role in getting the job done while she reaches for a dream and finds reality better than she imagined.

I’d say the conflict in this tale is internal with the initial external conflict being merely a prod to get the characters in position for what the author needed them to do. I’m grinning right now because I am imagining Jonathan and Ms. Hunter as one person – master manipulator. I have no idea why I’m finding that so funny but I do.

Another aspect that I really enjoyed and appreciated is the author’s inclusion of Marcus’ other brothers. I loved the dialogue and the emotions expressed and the sense of love and camaraderie that they all have for each other, even when they wanted to rumble. It helped forge a connection to the characters for a reader which enriched the reading experience; at least it did for me.

Storm Shadows is a well written and beautiful romance filled with charm, humor, vivid and lively descriptions and a well earned happily ever after sure to make a reader sigh in satisfaction. Despite the conflict, Ms. Hunter wrote a story that is uplifting and optimistic and just plain fun to read. I loved the fact that Betty Sue was innocent enough to believe in Cherokee fairy tales but woman enough to seduce the hero into a trembling mass of need, uncertainty and lust. What a great romance and I continue to be thrilled with this series. I absolutely cannot wait until Ms. Hunter’s next book so I can find out who else is going to succumb to the prophesy.