Release date: November 10, 2014
Leopardess Shay Barclay has a choice: go along with her family’s political plan to marry her to a ruthless shifter older than her grandfather or claim her life and her sexuality for her own.
She wastes no time in choosing freedom, but in her haste to establish her own boundaries, she just may have trusted her heart to the wrong man – a dragon shifter who’s too dangerous to resist…
Former Navy SEAL Drake O’Connor personally guaranteed he’d protect his buddy’s daughter to the death. But when his explosive chemistry with Shay finally boils over and they end up in bed, her family’s political enemies are the least of their problems.
Because although Shay doesn’t know it, she’s crossed a line with Drake that will alter their future for an eternity…
by Susan Arden
Susan Arden lives in Tennessee with her husband, cattle dogs, cats, corn snake, and a gecko. She is a mother, and lover of gardening, and stained-glass projects. Find Susan Arden at www.susanarden.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @romancebysusan.
An excerpt from Dragon Heart:
Shay paced along the terrace railing of her family’s villa, her anger churning, and gazed across the shimmering bay of Rio Tejo. Since she wasn’t about to drown herself in the bay below, a bucket of alcohol would have to do the trick of deadening her desire to scream bloody murder.
She poured two fingers of cognac into a tumbler and downed the amber liquid fire, burning her tongue and throat as she swallowed.
“Holy goddess!” She slammed her glass down on the marble-topped wet bar and sucked in a breath.
The scorch to her senses didn’t equal the fire racing along her nerve endings. Her calf muscles and hamstrings twitched as she reeled in her rage. She was on the verge of shifting into a roaring hot mess. As an unmated leopardess, she was hell-bent to be free—remain free—and roam the untamed Lisbon countryside far, far away from the lecherous stare of a man old enough to be her grandfather.
She raised her eyes to the starless sky, awash in pearlescent light. The nearly full moon lit up the horizon, creating a craggy silhouette of the mountain range off in the distance. The jagged cliffs and a baying wolf reminded her of home. Her heart lurched. In a few days, the moon would be full. The red moon. Her twenty-second.
“What are you doing out here and alone?” Drake asked, coming up behind her in the noiseless fashion he’d perfected as her bodyguard over the past few months. His tone was rough and she flinched at the gravelly voice that triggered a shiver deep in her belly—the type of arousal that made her skin prickle.
Dammit! She hated when he did that—appeared out of nowhere. How long had he been standing there? Swiftly, she straightened and stripped her face of all emotions.
“Are you here to read me the riot act because I forgot to check in with your team of jailers?” Shay poured another liberal serving of cognac into her glass.
“Tempting as that is, it’s not the reason I’m here,” Drake replied from the shadows. He must have stopped behind her.
What the crap? Fine. She wasn’t going to seek Drake out and ask his help … or could she? Jesus Freaking Christ, if anyone might have an answer it would be him—with his all worldly experience. The man marched to his own drum doing as he damn well pleased. He most likely already knew her dismal future. As her parents’ chief security advisor, Drake O’Connor was privy to everything—why not this monstrosity? But surely, if that were true he would have mentioned something. Done something to prevent her from being forced into a marriage with Dimitri Necrodemas, a decrepit leopard shifter who required heart pills, a blood pressure cuff, and a nurse. God, she’d never seen so many prescription bottles before. Forget Viagra—he’d keel over. God, what if the ancient shifter actually did take some sort of sex stimulant? Gag. Me.
Dimitri spent his days as Chief Justice for the Council of Mediterranean Shifters, and she’d spent the last four hours in his insufferable company, listening to him drone on about what he owned and whom he controlled.
It was all dubious, self-inflating drivel in her opinion, considering the recent unchecked bands of uncontrolled shifters ravaging the area and one in particular: the Unruled, a violent gang who tagged their black spray-painted symbols on surfaces all over the city here and across Europe. The violence roused fear in shifters and humans—yet humans were taking action. They were indiscriminately locking up shifters—innocent and guilty alike—in detention centers from which there was no return.
“I just came back from Dimitri’s dinner party. And since we’re playing twenty questions, I didn’t see you there. Were you playing hooky?” she asked, fighting to focus on the waves lapping at the stone pilings below, and put aside the bomb Dimitri had dropped. A marriage proposal that sounded more like a business deal and he’d assured her once, if not fifty times, how much power she’d wield as his wife. Who the heck cared? She’d be a glorified nursemaid and a political pawn if she were lucky. The other possible choices were unthinkable.