paranormal shapeshifter romance book
genre: paranormal shapeshifter romance book
length: 63200 words / novel
released: June 2007
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A heat wave isn’t the only thing making London too hot for lawyer Kim. She’s been spending each night with a man who sets her body and heart on fire. The problem? He’s a man that always sprouts black fur and purrs, and he’s only a dream. Walking into work on the hottest day of the year, the last thing she expects is to meet Erik, a man who sends her temperature soaring and who resembles her dream guy exactly.
A black panther shape-shifter, Erik Blackwell has been searching for his mate for twenty-seven years. The visions they share each night are getting hotter but finding her is proving impossible as he’s never seen her face. That is, until it turns out she’s working as his lawyer on his contract negotiations with his brother, Alistair.
Kim can’t deny her attraction to Erik. The heat she feels with him is intense and it’s only a matter of time before they surrender to their carnal desires.
When Kim discovers Erik's secret, will she turn her back on him, or will she complete the mating and become like him so they can be together forever?
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"Don't fight it." A deep, silken male voice echoed around her. The feel of his fingers ghosting over her arms, across her back, tickling her shoulder blades, made her shiver with delight. How did he think she'd have the will to fight him?
She never did.
She turned, desperate to catch a glimpse of his face in the low-lit room. She never managed to see it. He was always a mystery to her, always eluding her.
His nails scraped down her arms as he came up behind her, his breath hot against her neck. It turned her skin sticky, adding to the already stifling heat of the room. Her stomach tightened, clenching with arousal as his hands glided over her torso. His fingers raised the hem of her camisole up, bunching the material as he explored her bare skin at an achingly slow pace.
She arched into him, rubbing her backside against his groin and feeling his desire for her. He was hard for her, pressed firmly into the crack of her ass. One hand came down to her hips, pulling her back as he ground into her, showing her just what was to come and making moisture pool in her panties. She groaned, tilted her head to one side and tried to look over her shoulder at him.
A low rumble reverberated through her. It was a liquid purr that she felt in every inch of her body. She shifted her backside against his length, eliciting a deeper rumble from him, and smiled to herself over the effect she had on him. The hand on her stomach snaked up to her breasts, slipping under the camisole. She closed her eyes as his fingers teased and tortured her right nipple. He ghosted his other hand back up her arm, light enough that goosebumps followed in the wake of his touch. He swept his fingers over her shoulder and slipped the strap of her camisole down over it, caressing her as he went.
His mouth was warm and satiny against her skin as he kissed her shoulder. He licked and tasted her, teasing her neck with blunt teeth, and turning the tightness in her belly into an inferno. She brought her hand around, holding his hip as he ground against her backside.
The only sound in her ears was their combined breathing, hot and heavy, panting as they moved against each other.
Her heart thundered, racing away with her, and she gave herself over to the tempo of it.
His tongue swept along her earlobe as hers wet her lips. Her brows furrowed and she moaned, rolling her head to one side and bringing her other arm up. She reached over behind her and ran it through his short thick hair. It was like velvet beneath her touch and she buried her fingers into it, feeling the softness and losing herself in the sensations flooding her.
He purred again.
She opened her eyes and looked down at his hand as he slid it into the waist of her panties. How had she got so naked?
The thought fled her mind when his hand edged lower.
She bit her lip in anticipation of his touch, willing him to move faster before she exploded with need.
He nipped at her ear and she groaned.
Her eyes almost shut.
They flew wide when she saw the black fur erupt on his arm.
"Don't fight me," he whispered. "We were meant to be."
Kim shot up in bed, the buzzing alarm jarring her senses and the sound of the city streets below telling her that morning had come. She breathed heavily, struggling to level her heartbeat and steady herself. She pressed her hand against her chest. It was sticky with sweat. Her camisole top was soaked.
Taking deep breaths, she kept one hand pressed against her chest and propped herself up on the bed with the other. The thin summer sheets stuck to her damp skin. She looked at the big sash window, welcoming the cool morning breeze that was coming in through it and silently thankful that she'd opened it last night before dozing off.
She stared distantly at the red brick building opposite and remembered the dream.
They were coming more frequently now. She didn't know whether it was some kind of sign or not. If it were a sign, it was probably just her body telling her that she really needed to get a boyfriend.
Flopping back onto the bed, she turned the alarm off and stretched her arms out by her sides.
The dreams weren't just getting more frequent; they were getting hotter.
She sighed out her breath and closed her eyes, letting the lingering pleasure from her dream wash through her. She just wished for once that she'd see his face, or at least find some sort of completion. It was always achingly slow, so slow that nothing really ever happened. He'd touch her like no other man had, stir feelings in her that made her dizzy with desire, and then she'd wake up.
The man on the radio announced that today was going to be the hottest day of the year. She groaned. London in the heat was horrible.
Slipping out of bed, she padded across to the bathroom. She stared at herself in the mirror. The white tiles of the bathroom made her look deathly pale. Dream guy was probably way out of her league anyway. With a sexy deep rumble of a voice like he had, and those painfully skilful hands, he was definitely not going to be real. Even if he was, she wasn't pretty enough to catch a guy like him.
Her whole life she'd been told she was plain.
She frowned at her reflection, pulling her sweat-soaked long dark brown hair back and tugging a couple of strands free. She smiled. Grinned. Frowned. Widened her eyes a little, until the white showed around her rich chocolate irises.
Dropping her hair, she wrinkled her nose up and pressed it. Pulled her bottom lip. Pouted.
Maybe she was plain. Sometimes she thought she was pretty. Her teeth were straight, so was her nose. Her brows were nicely arched and fine. She had an oval face and wasn't super-slim, but not fat either. She prodded her sides and swallowed hard when she remembered dream guy's hands all over her.
Sighing at herself, she stripped off and looked at the digital clock stuck to the mirror. There wasn't time for a bath this morning. She sighed and looked over at the shower. Her parents had tried to convince her to go with one or the other, but the bathroom was big enough for both, and sometimes she needed a bath. She got into the shower and turned it on. She didn't know why she was worrying so much. Dream guy was just that, a dream. The chances of him existing were about as slim as the chance of her getting a promotion.
At her company, that would be nothing short of a miracle. She'd been working at the law firm for nearly three years now and they still didn't show any sign of taking her seriously.
Pushing away her thoughts of work and dream guy, she focused on washing her hair and the excruciating journey to work by the tube. In this heat, it was going to be nothing short of Hell.
She'd arrive at work as sweaty as she'd woken up this morning. There was a new case coming in today that was meant to be very hush hush and damn near impossible. And her sister had dumped her, meaning she was stuck having dinner alone with her parents tonight.
This day was going to be just perfect.
* * * *
Kim shoved her way onto the packed tube train, squeezing in by the door and frowning when someone elbowed her in the back as they got on behind her. She tiptoed to see if there was any space further along and sunk back onto her heels when she saw it was packed tighter than a tin of sardines. She leaned her head against the glass panel beside her and stared at the newspaper the man in the seat on the other side was reading.
Someone in front of her turned and she wrinkled her nose up when she smelt sweat.
What a way to start the day.
It was already up to boiling point outside and it was barely eight in the morning. Global warming. That's what it was. All this pollution and stuff. She sighed again and closed her eyes, trying to whisk herself away from the daily grind by remembering her dream.
She told herself it wasn't a dream.
It was more of a fantasy.
But every time it was him, the same man, that same touch and those same lips against her overheated flesh.
He always said the same thing to her, close to her ear, sometimes in front of her, to her side or behind. She didn't care. She just wanted to melt into a puddle whenever he spoke. He could say anything, do anything, and she'd be his for the taking.
The train jerked around a corner, brakes squealing as it went downhill. She frowned at the rude interruption and then realised that her stop was next.
Getting off, she jostled along with the rest of the commuters and then breathed a sigh of relief when she hit the street. Her sense of calm was short lived when she turned to find her boss, Laura Townsend, walking towards her, her arms full with a box that was overflowing with files.
"Kay!" Laura shouted.
Kim cringed. Too late to escape now.
"It's Kim," she said flatly, not caring about correcting her boss because she knew that Laura wouldn't even noticed she'd spoken.
"Can you carry this?" Laura dumped the box into Kim's arms.
Kim scowled at her as she straightened out her Armani power suit and beamed brightly. She could never understand how Laura had managed to become her boss. They'd gone through university together and had even taken the bar at the same time. How come Laura was head of the department, and she was stuck spending half her time running errands? Laura had also managed to conveniently forget her name, and forget they'd ever known each other. Kim mused that a position of power could do that to someone. No time for the little people when you're busy brown-nosing the big bosses.
She adjusted the box in her arms and trudged towards the office. It was a Georgian building with tall sash windows and a black double door for the entrance. She'd always thought it was pretty. It was half the reason she'd decided to join this company. That and her friend worked here. But recently he'd been changing and she wasn't sure that she liked the butterfly he'd turned into. It was more of a moth.
The files shifted side to side in the box as she mounted the steps and she tried to get them back into a better position as she followed Laura across the entrance hall. It was cool inside the building, the heavy stone work keeping the heat of the sun out. She looked up at the big twin staircases in front of her, wishing she were up in the offices on that floor with the rest of the partners.
She paid for her momentary lapse in concentration.
The box slipped as a file fell off the top and before she could recover herself, all of them had scattered across the floor. She bent immediately, getting down on all fours and scrabbling to pick them up. She could hear the impatient click of Laura's shoes on the floor. Her heart beat sickeningly fast as she panicked.
Someone touched her shoulder.
"It's fine, I've got it," she muttered, dying of embarrassment as more people gathered.
She scurried across to the rest of the files, dumping them back into the box. Someone touched her again. She jerked her shoulder backwards.
"I said it was fine. Get off me," she almost growled the words.
A pair of shiny black shoes appeared in view along with a file.
They weren't girl shoes.
It wasn't Laura.
"Don't fight me," a deep, lush male voice said. "I'm just trying to help."
She froze, her heart dancing in her throat as she stared at his shoes. It couldn't be. It just couldn't be. Her palms sweated and her breathing hitched as she followed his trousers upwards, taking in the strong, long legs and the breadth of his shoulders, all emphasised by a sharp, black tailored suit. Her eyes reached his face and she flushed under the intensity of his gaze.
He knelt beside her, bringing his head almost level with hers, and held the file out.
She stared into his honey brown eyes, lost in the force of them, and unable to say anything. All sense of embarrassment disappeared for a moment, but returned full force when he smiled, his soft lips curving into it.
"Are you all right?" he said, his voice making her melt inside so much that she was glad she was already on the floor and couldn't fall over.
She nodded dumbly.
He placed the file into the box and picked up the others for her as she stared at him, trying to figure out if he was real or whether she was just fantasising again. She'd never seen such a gorgeous man. His short black hair looked as velvety as it had been in her dreams and his eyes were everything she'd imagined they would be.
Her eyes widened when she was suddenly standing and she glanced at the large hand that was holding her arm. She swallowed and blinked, her senses reeling as she remembered the feeling of his touch. She pushed her fantasies away as he said something and she looked up into his eyes.
She was lost again the moment they met hers. They were just like the colour of honey, with dark flecks in their depths. She'd never realised that people could have eyes that colour.
"Are you sure you're all right?" he said with an amused smile but there was the tiniest hint of concern in his eyes.
"I'm fine, thank you," she said with a smile. Her cheeks flushed when he grinned.
"Don't concern yourself with Kay. She's always been a little clumsy." Laura stepped between her and the man.
"Kim," she whispered, correcting her.
The man smiled.
"We weren't expecting you for another half an hour, Mr. Blackwell," Laura said.
Kim tried not to stare at him but her eyes seemed to ignore every command she sent to them. He was breathtaking. It wasn't just his looks; it was his whole air. There was something about him that spoke of danger and passion, of heat and seduction. He positively oozed masculinity and sensuality.
Or maybe it was just her dreams making her feel like this.
The cool room suddenly felt very hot when his eyes came back to meet hers. He was speaking to Laura but Kim didn't hear a word he said. Her heart pounded in her ears. She averted her gaze for a split second but it roamed back to him, as though he'd called it and she was powerless to resist him.
Laura turned to her. "They need those files in room two."
Kim looked at her, feeling a little dazed and definitely confused. Files? She looked down when Laura did and saw the box there. Files. She'd completely forgotten about them.
"I do hope Kim will be working on my case," the man said.
Her heart skipped a beat when he said her name. He'd heard her. He'd heard her correct Laura. Is that why he'd smiled? He'd smiled at her?
"Kim? She doesn't work on cases like yours," Laura said with a broad smile.
Kim frowned. She did work on cases like his and Laura knew it. If this were the man they were supposed to be meeting this morning, then it was a case she was supposed to be working on. She specialised in contract negotiations.
Laura began walking and he followed her. Kim watched him heading towards the stairs, taking in the strength of his build and how tall he was.
Tearing her eyes away, she bent over and picked up the box of files.
She smiled when she heard him speak.
"I think Kim should work on this case. I think I need her."
"IN HEAT delivers a one-two punch as Kim finds herself drawn to the mysterious Erik Blackwell and the dreams seem to draw her even closer to him. With the right amount of complex emotions, simmering passion and a mystery that plagues Kim, Felicity Heaton delivers a story that will captivate the reader from start to finish. Each page was like a moving painting, each rich in detail, sensual and sexual. Make sure the air conditioning is on high as you read IN HEAT! With each page, be prepared to get lost within the arms of Erik and Kimís courtship and romance as they race against the clock to capture their elusive hearts and mate for all time. Felicity Heaton delivers another fine story for her eager readers and be awed as the reader gets lost within the confines of London and its beautiful English countryside. Pick up IN HEAT and make sure to have a fan close by as you get lost amid its pages. Another hit for this talented author."
-- Dawn, Love Romances -- 4 hearts (read the whole review)
"In Heat is the first book that I have read by Felicity Heaton and I am certainly looking forward to the next one. Kim is a lawyer and has a great attitude, she is smart and sassy and the ideal woman for Erik. Erik is irresistible and his carnal heat will bowl you over. Sparks come in the form of his brother Alistair who sees a prime opportunity to compete with him. This story is a powerful paranormal tale that hook readers and keep them looking forward to the next book. Felicity Heaton is a talented author and has woven a story of passion and deceit that will leave you panting for more."
-- Angel, The Romance Studio -- 4.5 Hearts (read the whole review)
"I didnít think Felicity Heaton would blow me away but she did it again with In Heat. I so hope this is a series for I would love to see what will happen once Kim comes in heat again with Erik. Now here is a man who will make you all hot and bothered yourself. Countless times throughout the book I had to stop for the passion between these two was sizzling, and I wondered where does Felicity Heaton come up with these story lines. I felt sorry for Erik in a way for his doubts and worry about losing his mate especially once you hear about his family. The estrangement between the brothers is one to read and the hate between them is not your typically brother rivalry. Kim, now here is a woman who can hold on to herself but like Erik wonders about their love. This was an awesome job and highly recommended; I just hope thereís more about Erik and Kim to come. "
-- Lena C, Fallen Angel Reviews -- 5 Angels (read the whole review)