Release date: February 15, 2016
A desperate entity trapped on the other side of an active hellmouth pleads for were-cougar Belle Foye’s help, and she can’t stop herself from running toward it, even though it means putting her own life in danger. As if that weren’t bad enough, Belle is currently in heat, which means her body is acting in all sorts of ways her brain wished it wouldn’t—particularly when it comes to her new babysitter.
Former soldier Steven Welch has been tasked with keeping Belle away from the hellmouth at all costs. It’s just his luck her inner cat has taken a shine to his human self. Not only is Belle a bit young in his world-weary opinion, but sticking close to her means he has no choice but to confront a fear of the supernatural he’d hoped he left in the Afghan desert.
When the pair learns Steven could solve Belle’s problem and rescue the mysterious soul calling to her, their differences collide. Steven insists he’s no hero, while Belle wants to enter the hellmouth and end the trouble it’s brought on her family once and for all. Will Steven’s fears and stubbornness cause Belle to lose her fated mate and the one man she’s ever trusted enough to call “partner”?
by Holley Trent
Sensuality Level: Sensual
Holley Trent is a Carolina girl gone west. She writes contemporary and paranormal romances that have both humor and heat. Find Holley Trent at www.holleytrent.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @holleytrent.
An excerpt from The Cougar’s Wish:
Belle Foye ran faster, harder toward the sweet, childish voice emanating from the open portal to hell on her mother’s ranch. The increasingly fervent pleas had been needling at her for weeks, and she knew without question that if she couldn’t quiet that voice, she’d lose her mind. With her being in a Cougar’s heat, her mind was already halfway shot anyway, so she really didn’t need an extra boost.
She slowed enough to kick off her sneakers and shuck her clothes. She’d move faster if she shapeshifted to her cat form. The fact she was a Were-cougar was the reason she was so damned sensitive to the beckoning coming out of that hellmouth in the first place. Shifters could see, hear, and feel more than the average person, and Cougars were the most perceptive of all. She figured she might as well deal with the problem—whatever it was—in the right body.
She and her family had been problem solving with that portal for a year since it had opened up without warning. But in that year, they’d been exhaustingly pushing demons and spirits back through it and not purposefully trying to enter it like Belle was doing at the moment. She’d managed to make it just inside the portal about a month prior. However, the amount of energy she’d expended passing through the glowing rift between the realms had prevented her from going farther. It was a wonder she hadn’t passed out and been dragged in deeper by some vengeful entity.
Her family had been too slow in preventing her from going in, but with some help from her brother’s witch mate, they’d freed her from the portal. They’d demanded answers, but she didn’t have any.
Not yet, anyway. Belle usually wasn’t a woman who’d hold her tongue, but there was an old saying among Cougars: a call heard by only one was meant for that one … until it wasn’t. It was up to her to decide who was worthy of helping her bear the burden, but she couldn’t do that until she found out what it was.
Looking over her shoulder, she swore.
A single headlight illuminated the car she’d parked on the roadside, and if the motorcycle rider caught up to her, he was going to get in her way. Steven Welch had been persuaded by her overbearing big brothers to keep an eye on her because she kept running toward the hellmouth. Being twenty made her stupid, apparently. They refused to trust that her movements had purpose—that she wasn’t reckless and irresponsible. Her three brothers had tried to prevent her from visiting the Double B ranch or even stepping foot onto her mother’s property. Try as they and the rest of the Were-cougar group—the glaring—might to block her attempts, they couldn’t be at her back all the time.
No one was that good, and she’d counted on that. Perhaps she shouldn’t have. Someone was always at her damned heels. For once in her life, she wished they would all trust that she was in control of her faculties.
She shifted into her animal form between one step and the next, ripping her bones apart and into their feline configuration quickly. Too quickly. The lady inside the cat screamed in agony as the cougar found her footing.
She’d probably be feeling that pain for days, but she didn’t see where she had a choice. She might have been fast on two legs, but on four, she was uncatchable.
That hellmouth called to her—that tiny voice beckoning and convincing her that she’d regret it if she didn’t listen.
Belle didn’t want regrets. Regrets were like poison and kept people from acting when they needed to. It made them second-guess, and in a culture where shifters were constantly fighting for dominance and territory—where the smallest slights could turn into long grudges—she needed to act, not wait.
The engine roared behind her, and Steven flicked the headlight of his bike repeatedly.
Okay, damn it, I see you.
She kept running.