THE CAST OF CHARACTERS
Lyon - The lion-shifter is the leader of the Feral Warriors. He's a serious and driven chief with no time to waste on emotion or love. Until the right woman walks into his life.
Lyon's Backstory – Spoiler Alert!
Tighe - The tiger-shifter was cursed with looks that attract women and eyes that repel. He's a charmer whose smile hides a deep and ancient pain.
Tighe's Backstory – Spoiler Alert!
Paenther - As dark and dangerous as his tribal ancestors, the panther-shifter's hatred of the Mage dominates his life.
Paenther's Backstory – Spoiler Alert!
Jag - Surly and disagreeable, the jaguar-shifter thrives on the enmity of the others.
Jag's Backstory – Spoiler Alert!
Kougar - Behind the cold, pale eyes of the dangerous cougar-shifter lies a past shrouded in mystery, and secrets he shares with no one.
Hawke - The hawk-shifter possesses a keen and curious mind. And a past of which he never speaks.
Wulfe - The biggest of the Ferals, the wolf-shifter was long ago scarred both inside and out.
Vhyper - Behind the bald snake-shifter's easy-going smile lurk the dark shadows of the past and present.
Foxx - The cocky kid, the fox-shifter shows the promise of great power, if he ever matures.
Lyon, the chief of the Feral Warriors, was born in London in 1314, the son of a Therian drunk and the human woman who died giving birth to him. Born Arthur Bannister, Lyon learned early to avoid his father's fists, especially on his birthday — the anniversary of his mother's death. On his tenth birthday, his father tried to drown him in a rain barrel and might have succeeded, had Lyon been mortal. Lyon ran, and never saw his father again.
When he was sixteen, Lyon woke to find claw marks — the mark of a Feral Warrior — on his abdomen, just above his hip bone. He didn't know what they meant. But over the course of the next few month, he developed a compelling need to follow a call he felt deep inside. The call to find Feral House. It took him almost a year to reach the Feral Warriors and their Radiant in what is now the Aquitaine region of France.
As Lyon tells Kara in Desire Untamed:
"Back in those days, the moment a new Feral arrived at Feral House, the others started calling him Mouse. It was a long running joke, but of course, I didn't know that. They swore up and down that the Feral who'd recently died, the one I'd been marked to replace, had been a mouse." He shrugged. "I was sixteen. They had me totally convinced."
"But you turned into a lion."
"I did. It was the proudest day of my life."
In 1400, the Feral Warriors and their Radiant moved to the highlands of Scotland. Twelve years later, seventeen Ferals, including their Chief, walked into a spirit trap and never returned. Lyon, second-in-command, became Chief of the Feral Warriors.
Tighe was born in Denmark in 1402 to Therian parents, and named Lars.
When he was nine, his mother had a premonition of a Mage attack and took Tighe to a Therian friend who had married a human a few years before and lived in a human village. His mother promised Tighe she'd come for him as soon as the danger passed, but Tighe sensed she’d never return, and she never did. A few months later, the Therian died mysteriously of what he would later believe to have been Mage magic. Of his Therian enclave, he alone had been spared.
When Tighe was fifteen, a human niece of his foster father's came to live with them. Her name was Gretchen and Tighe fell in love. They married three years later and had one child, a daughter, Amalie. The children of a mortal-immortal union can be either, and Amalie was mortal.
When Amalie was five, Tighe woke with the marks of a Feral Warrior across his chest after a strange dream. The next time he looked on his wife with desire, his eyes changed to those of an animal, a tiger, terrifying her. Tighe only vaguely understood what was going on – he hadn’t been around Therians since he was a young boy. But Gretchen never gave him the chance to explain, believing he was a demon. The villagers ran him out of town and he never saw his wife or daughter again.
A year and a half later, he found the Feral Warriors and their Radiant deep in the highlands of Scotland and shifted fully for the first time, into a fifteen-foot Bengal tiger.
Paenther was born in 1597 into the human Tauxenent tribe on the Potomac. His mother was human, his father was half-Therian and immortal. At his birth, his Tauxenent grandmother, the tribe's seer, predicted he would someday walk the earth as both panther and man. He was named Black Panther.
He lived with the tribe until his mother’s death when he was thirty-one. His father thought it time for him to learn the ways of the Therians and they needed his help protecting the enclaves against the Mage who had followed the Therians across the Atlantic from Europe.
In 1738, Black Panther was marked as the next Feral Warrior, his feral marks appearing across one eye. But as he made his way to Feral House, he came upon a young woman being accosted by two men. He came to her aid, only to discover he'd fallen into a trap. The lovely young woman, Ancreta, was a Mage witch determined to pry his animal spirit from his body. For long months he endured her torture alongside two other newly-marked Ferals, one of whom would become Vhyper. After the third Feral died, Black Panther and Vhyper managed to escape and make their way to Feral House where Black Panther was given the Feral name Paenther. But the damage done to him by Ancreta never fully healed. And his hatred of all things Mage burned inside him like a never-ending flame.
Jag was born in 1661 in a small Therian enclave on the Hudson River in what would later be called New York. Jag, who was known as John before he was marked, was a rebellious, head-strong child. His mother, Cordelia, was well over eight hundred years old when he was born, had never particularly wanted a child, and didn't know how to handle him. Though she loved him, she was by turns demanding and neglectful and it fell to the entire enclave to raise him.
When Jag was fourteen, he was seduced by a human teen, entering the carnal world of adults forbidden to young Therians until the age of twenty-five. But already known as the enclave's trouble-maker, he could see no reason to start obeying the rules when he'd found such a marvelous reason to break them. For two years, he snuck down to the human village whenever he could, and met the girls. Until one day, when he was sixteen, his mother, Cordelia, followed. She caught him with a girl in the barn and tried to drag him home. But Jag, still in the throes of passion, pushed her away just as several human men came to investigate the commotion. Cordelia fell against the wall, cutting her face. But a Therian heals almost instantly and the men were certain they'd found a witch.
The men grabbed her and dragged her out of the barn. Jag assumed they meant to throw her out of the village. Instead, they tied her to a stake and set her on fire. By the time Jag realized what they had in mind, it was too late. He tried to reach her, but in the struggle he, too, was cut and healed too quickly. They turned on him and he ran. They chased him for hours, but he finally escaped and returned to the Therian enclave just as dark was falling. And he knew that if the fire hadn't already killed her, the draden soon would.
Jag blamed himself bitterly, and didn't try to defend himself or his actions when the enclave's leader beat him soundly, calling him a selfish, cold-hearted bastard. No one could have been angrier with him than he was with himself. The enclave was his home, his family, and there were those who knew he hadn't let his mother die on purpose. They knew there was nothing he could have done to save her. But Jag wouldn't listen to words of comfort or forgiveness. He pushed the others away, doing anything and everything to earn their anger. He wanted them to hate him as badly as he hated himself.
Six months later, he left the enclave and became a strong hunter and an excellent draden fighter. He was welcomed at any enclave for his skills, but the poison inside him eventually turned others against him, and invariably, he was asked to move on. Sixty years later, he was marked to become the next jaguar shifter. He didn't want it, didn't think he deserved it, but the need for radiance was too strong and he eventually made his way to Feral House. Even Jag couldn't resist the call.
(Beware, reading on will explain things that are revealed in the course of reading The Feral Warriors books)
Glossary of Terms
The Cantric - the braided copper circle implanted in young Mage upon maturity to help them boost their magic.
Daemon Blade - the enchanted blade in which Satanan and his Daemon horde are imprisoned.
Daemons - the true enemies of all the creatures of the earth, both mortal and immortal. Five millennia ago, the Daemons and their leader, Satanan, were imprisoned in an enchanted blade. If they're ever again free, all hell will break loose on Earth.
Feral Warriors - the last of the shape-shifters
Goddess Stone - the large, flat rock high on the cliffs over the Potomac River where the Earths' energies are the strongest. It's here the Feral Warriors and their Radiant are best able to call on the powers of the Earth.
Going feral - the term referring to the in-between stage between man and beast where a Feral Warrior is able to access his wilder nature without fully shifting. Only eyes change and fangs and claws erupt.
Mage - a race of magic-wielding immortals and the natural rivals of the shape-shifters
Shifting - the act of changing from man to animal or back again, at will.
Stay in your skin - A Feral term meaning calm down
Therians - the immortal race that were once the mighty shape-shifters. In order to imprison Satanan and his horde all those years ago, the Therians were forced to mortgage most of their power. Only one of each of the ancient animal lines was able to retain the power of his beast and the ability to shift. Now most Therians are immortal, but otherwise little different from their mortal cousins, the humans.
Need a refresher? Below are complete synopses of each of the Feral Warriors novels, in order.
The Feral Warriors have lost their Radiant. The old one has been dead for six months and the new one, a Therian female marked by the goddess, has yet to come forward. Almost too late, Lyon realizes she must be out of range of his senses. He calls for the ritual that will raise the power of the beasts and enable him to find her – a ritual that calls for the warriors’ blood and a full moon. Not until the ritual is nearly complete do they realize the knife used, brought by the youngest Feral, Fox, was the Demon Blade, the very blade that imprisons Satanan and his horde. They believe no harm has been done, but they’re wrong.
Lyon follows his finder’s senses to Spearsville, Missouri where he finally tracks down the new Radiant, Kara. Unfortunately, Kara’s been raised human and doesn’t know she’s immortal. When they’re attacked by draden, Kara realizes Lyon’s not crazy. When her dying mother admits Kara is not her true daughter, Kara realizes neither she nor her world are what she thought they were. The only way to get to the truth is to go Lyon.
Kara begins to regret her decision when she arrives at Feral House and discovers a house full of large, male shape-shifters, a half-flamingo housekeeper, and Zaphene, Fox’s condescending girlfriend. Lyon becomes her anchor, the only one she trusts to keep her safe. Lyon tries to keep his mind and hands off the pretty new Radiant, for her mate is pre-ordained and will be revealed during the Pairing Ceremony. But as he prepares her for the ceremony, his control snaps and he kisses her passionately, admitting to himself that he hopes to be chosen as her mate. But the ceremony pairs her with Vhyper.
Kara is devastated. Vhyper is cold and angry, sensing the relationship that’s begun to sprout between her and Lyon. He’s the only one who can lead her safely through her ascension, the ritual that will empower her, allowing her to pull the radiance from the earth that will enable them to shift again. But Vhyper’s angry and losing control and Lyon doesn’t trust him not to hurt Kara so he orders Hawke to prepare her for the ritual instead, teaching her to call the Earth’s energies. When Kara runs away from Hawke, determined to return home and leave this nightmare, Lyon catches her and is forced to take on the job himself.
Nightmares of being tortured start to plague Kara along with the feeling that she’s in terrible danger. Lyon assures her that no one at Feral House will ever hurt her and she comes to realize that being the Radiant isn’t a job she can walk away from. Only in death will another be chosen. Without their Radiant, the Ferals will weaken and eventually die.
Lyon finally realizes that Kara’s anxiety is being forced on her in some way, probably by a dark charm that has found its way into Feral House. As they search for the dark charm, he stands watch outside her door as she sleeps, suffering a protectiveness he shouldn’t feel, but all of his men are off since they haven’t been able to shift, Vhyper especially. When Kara cries out from one of her nightmares, Lyon comforts her, holding her until she falls asleep again. When she awakes, soft and wanting him, he nearly makes love to her until he grips her hip and feels a Mage cantric buried deep in her flesh.
Lyon goes ballistic at the evidence that she’s not their Radiant, but a Mage witch. Their enemy. He cuts out the cantric and loses the last of his own control to a feral rage. Kara flees the room and Feral House, in pain, betrayed by the one she trusted most. Too late, she remembers the draden, and watches as a cloud comes for her, preparing to steal her life force.
The moment Lyon regains control, his finder’s senses realize Kara’s outside alone and in terrible danger. He races after her, snatches her out of the claws of certain death as he drags her to the goddess rock and calls a Feral circle to keep out the draden. Kara’s bitter misery cools his anger as he comes to believe that whatever she is, she didn’t know, and hasn’t acted maliciously.
Back at Feral House, he locks her in the prison while they decide her fate. Wulfe is already down there, having lost control to his feral side for good, a result of the lack of radiance. Vhyper loses the last of his own control, too, and is locked up in a cell near Kara. But as Lyon and the others discuss her fate upstairs, Vhyper comes to stand before Kara’s cell, suddenly free. He steals her out of her cell and drags her down to the lowest level beneath Feral House where he strings her up. Robed figures stab her with blades.
Lyon goes to check on her in the prison and hears her screams. He and Paenther race to the lowest level to find her bleeding profusely and alone with a crazed-looking Vhyper. Lyon orders Vhyper locked up again and when it becomes clear Kara’s wounds aren’t healing like they should, he, Paenther, Tighe, and Jag race to the Georgetown enclave and the finest healer of the race, trying to save her life.
At the enclave, the Shaman examines Kara and declares her not a Mage. Mind-skinning her, he learns that Zaphene is the Mage witch and she’s been working with Vhyper to free the Daemons from the Daemon blade. They have to stop her. Hawke agrees to stay with Kara, but as soon as the others leave, he ushers her out of the enclave and she soon realizes why. The man pretending to be Hawke isn’t Hawke at all but a clone grown from a draden and sent to retrieve the rest of her blood. Lyon realizes Kara’s in trouble and races to reach her before the clone kills her, but Kara saves herself this time. Together, they head to Feral House to stop the ritual that will free the Daemons.
When they reach Feral House, they discover the basement, where the ritual is already taking place, has been fully warded against them. Only in their animal forms might they be able to breach the warding, but they won’t be able to shift again until their Radiant is ascended. If she’s ascended by the wrong Feral, she’ll die, but they have strong reason to believe that the original pairing ceremony was fixed. That it shouldn’t have been Vhyper. But Lyon’s fallen in love and is taking no chances. Without his brothers seeing, he takes off his feral armband and curls it around Kara’s upper arm, hiding it beneath the sleeve of her gown.
Not until Kara pulls the radiance, surrounded by the Ferals, does she learn the truth—that no one can touch Kara in full Radiance without an armband or they’ll die. Lyon protected Kara at the cost of his own life. The other three Ferals shift into their animals at last as Lyon collapses, dead. There’s nothing they can do for him. Kara tells them to go, stop the ritual, and they fly through the warding and into battle as she kneels beside Lyon, railing at him for not believing she was the one meant to be his mate. Because she’s certain of it. Refusing to give up, Kara pours radiance into him, fighting for his life. And wins. Lyon shifts into his lion, and with Kara on his back, flies into battle.
The Ferals kill all but one of the clones Zaphene created to free the Daemons from the blade and allow Kara to kill Zaphene. When the battle is won, the Ferals hold a second pairing ceremony and Lyon is chosen Kara’s true mate.
But one of the clones, Tighe’s, is missing and Vhyper has escaped with the Daemon blade. They believe he was infected by the blade’s evil during that first ceremony to raise the power of the lion. The greater battle—the battle to keep the Mage from freeing the Daemons—has just begun, but Lyon is ready for anything now that he has Kara by his side.
At the end of Desire Untamed, Tighe’s clone escaped Feral House with half Tighe’s soul. If Tighe doesn’t catch him and kill him soon, they’ll both die. Tied, as he is, to the clone, Tighe is beginning to see the clone’s attacks of innocent victims through the killer’s eyes. When he sees the clone attack a lovely FBI agent he’s never met, he feels an inexplicable grief at her death.
FBI Agent, Delaney Randall, isn’t killed. Attacked by the clone as she investigates the string of strange murders in D.C., she’s saved by the intervention of a bystander but not before the clone inadvertently releases a tiny bit of his life force into her. Soon she’s the one seeing the clone’s attacks, not Tighe. Tighe’s frustrated because he’d thought he could track the clone through the visions. But then he gets another vision, this one of Delaney looking into a mirror. He sees the bite mark on her throat, knows she’s the woman he’d thought he’d watched die. And he hears her name.
Tighe tracks Delaney down, knowing he has to get her out from between him and the visions even if that means killing her, though he doesn’t want to do that. Tighe steals into her apartment in his housecat form, then shifts and tries to press into her mind, to steal her memories of him and to disentangle her from the visions. But he fails. Whatever the clone did to her has made her immune to Feral mind-control. Instead of killing her, he takes her back to the safe house where he, Hawke, and Kougar have been tracking the clone.
Delaney thinks she’s been captured by the killer who attacked her and is determined to escape. Tighe tries to seduce Delaney, thinking he may have more success in getting into her mind that way, but when he manages to get control of her actions, but not her mind, her fear of him sky-rockets and he loses it, turning into a berserker. Tighe, with half a soul, is riding the edge of control and there’s nothing that sends him over the edge faster than the sight of fear in a woman’s eyes, the same kind of fear he’d seen in his human wife’s eyes centuries ago when he first went feral. Hawke and Kougar intervene before Delaney’s injured or before she’s seen Tighe’s fangs and claws.
Back in control, Tighe apologizes. Delaney can’t understand this bizarre man who is one moment terrifying and the next tender and worried about her. When she has another vision, she nearly blacks out with pain. Tighe realizes that touching her both eases her pain and allows him to see the vision instead of her. He, the clone, and Delaney are definitely connected. He sees the clone attacking people at the Lincoln Memorial and takes Delaney with him. By the time they get there, the vision has ended. It’s after dark and Tighe is attacked by draden which Delaney can’t see. When they find three fresh victims, Delaney accepts that Tighe didn’t kill them, that his assertion of being the killer’s twin must be right. And when she sees the draden bites, she begins to suspect there’s more going on here than she can comprehend. And Tighe is her only chance of surviving it.
When she gets another vision, they drive to the apartment building where the clone is terrorizing a woman and killing her babies. But the moment Tighe runs into the building to find the clone, Delaney calls the FBI. The clone sets the apartment on fire and escapes. Tighe rescues a toddler, painfully reminded of his own mortal daughter, Amalie, from centuries ago. As he carries her out of the apartment, he’s distracted by the mother’s gratitude. Too late, he sees the FBI agents aiming for him. Before he can run, he’s shot through the heart. He runs back into the building, shifts into a house cat and telepathically calls to Hawke and Kougar who grab the small cat and carry him out, unnoticed.
Tighe recovers. Delaney feels heartsick, thinking she got Tighe killed. Delaney gets another vision and spirals down into the dark, lost to it for the last time. Tighe feels her crying out for him and, through their connection, is able to track her to an FBI safe house where he breaks in and pulls her from that dark.
Meanwhile, in the mountains of Virginia, Paenther and Fox search for Vhyper and the Daemon blade following Fox’s gifted intuition. When Fox insists on stopping at a small market, Paenther spies a lovely young woman who inexplicably catches his interest.
Tighe takes Delaney to a Therian safe house where tenderness and passion rise and they make love. He once more tries again to get into her mind, to free her from the clone’s connection, but as their minds are opened to one another, the tiger spirit leaps at Delaney, trying to claim her for its own. Delaney screams and the fear in her eyes shatters Tighe’s already thin control and he goes feral and badly injures her. She’s going to die without medical attention, but she’s seen too much. Lyon gives Tighe two choices. Bind her to him in a mating ceremony which will keep her from ever betraying him. Or let her die.
Out in the Blue Ridge, Paenther and Fox visit the market a second time and the pretty young woman leads Paenther behind the back and they kiss. He’s stunned by his attraction to her.
Unable to let Delaney die, Tighe binds her to him in the mating ritual, but doesn’t bind himself to her, thinking that when this is over he might still be able to extricate her from this mess and send her back to her old life. But when the clone takes on Kara’s appearance and steals Delaney away, Tighe can’t find her. In his own need to keep from being permanently tied to her, he’s broken the link between them.
Out in the Blue Ridge, Paenther has become obsessed with the young beauty at the market. Fox drives them back and tells Paenther to get her out of his system, which Paenther is all too willing to do. But when the beauty leads him into the woods and takes him into her body, Mage rings suddenly appear around the irises of her eyes and she enthralls him.
Tighe rescues Delaney, but in doing so, loses the last thread of control and falls into wildness. When Delaney finally wakes after her ordeal, she learns that Tighe is caged in the prison beneath the house, too dangerous to let loose. She demands to be allowed to see him, determined to pull him from the dark as he pulled her. Lyon and Kougar thinks she’s foolish, but hold Tighe down while she stares into his eyes. She manages to call forth the tiger spirit who in turn retrieves Tighe for her. She brings him out of the darkness. But not for long. Tighe’s soul is disintegrating and they fear he has only a day before he dies.
Tighe and Delaney share what they fear are their last hours together. Delaney talks him into showing her his tiger form and surprises him by not being frightened of him. As he tells her of his wife and daughter, Delaney helps him heal those old wounds. In an act of love, Tighe completes the mating ritual, binding himself to Delaney for as long as he has left. But as he’s doing so, Delaney senses the clone watching her through Tighe’s eyes and they realize that while they’ve been watching through the clone’s eyes while he feeds, he’s been watching through Tighe’s every time Tighe gazes into Delaney’s eyes. They finally understand how the clone has been keeping a step ahead of them. And how to potentially catch him and take him down.
But the trap doesn’t work. When the clone captured Delaney, he infected her with a bit of his dark essence, turning her into a channel key with which he intends to open the channel to the dark power deep in the earth. And as the Ferals set the trap for him, he calls Delaney to him on the goddess rock and cuts her open. Tighe, the only one bound to her is the only one who can reach her through the impenetrable wall of draden. Together, Tighe and Delaney battle the clone and win, but Delaney’s dying. But when Tighe retrieves his half of the soul from the clone, he pulls it back through Delaney, at his animal spirit’s direction, healing her. And turning her immortal. Tighe and Delaney rejoice that they now have an eternity to love one another.
Paenther wakes in a cavern deep in the mountains of Virginia, chained naked to the rock, furious and devastated that he’s allowed himself to be caught by a Mage witch for the second time in his life. The first time, soon after he was marked to be a Feral, was by the cruel Ancreta who’d tortured him and Vhyper mercilessly.
At the end of Desire Untamed, Vhyper went missing, his soul presumably lost to the darkness of the Daemon Blade. Paenther, refusing to believe his friend can’t be saved, went in search of him with Fox and crossed paths with an ethereal beauty he realized, too late, was a Mage witch.
The Mage witch, Skye, hates that she’s been forced to capture the beautiful shapeshifter. A gentle spirit with a pure heart and an enchantress’s way with animals, she’s long been the captive of the evil Mage Birik who seeks to use her gift to call dark energies. He’s ordered her to mate with the shapeshifter, and Skye fears he’ll end up killing him.
Paenther’s hatred blinds him to Skye’s true nature even though he can’t stop wanting to be inside her again. He watches her with the forest animals she’s made pets of and her gentleness wear at his hatred. When Birik crashes into the room and beats her mercilessly for not mating with him, Paenther finds himself helping her, drawn against his will to her vulnerability and the sadness in her eyes.
To his relief, Vhyper comes to see him, but this man isn’t his friend but a cold, ruthless stranger. But Paenther’s determined to find a way to save him as Vhyper once saved him. At midnight, Paenther wakes to find himself in a different room of the cave, this time chained to the floor. He watches in horror as Skye’s animals are slaughtered and she dances in their blood, then rides Paenther, raising a vicious, dark power. Vhyper tells him Skye’s vulnerability was all an act designed to get him to cooperate with her. Watching her now, Paenther believes him and his hatred returns, greater than before. As the power peaks, screams resound deep in the cavern and Birik smiles.
The next time Paenther wakes, he’s chained upright where he watches with horror as three wraith Daemons—creatures who haven’t been seen in five thousand years—slaughter trapped humans. It’s the Daemons Birik used the power to call from the blade. Skye watches, too, and knows she has to stop Birik, no matter the consequences. She has frees Paenther before Birik can force them to free more Daemons. But Paenther wants revenge and takes her with him.
Back at Feral House, the Ferals interrogate Skye then lock her in their prison. When midnight hits, the Ferals sense Skye’s in terrible pain, for the enchantress has a strange pull on all their animals. Paenther finds her being slashed repeatedly and viciously…from the inside out—Birik’s punishment for not performing her nightly dance and slaughter. Paenther realizes that she was as much of a victim of Birik as he was. Against Lyon’s wishes, he takes her to his room and holds her as she sleeps, needing to make amends. But he’s not sure he’ll be able to keep her alive. She’s doing something to the Ferals’ animals, even if unintentionally.
When Jag spontaneously shifts, Lyon orders Skye back to the prison for her own safety as much as the safety of the others. Alone in the prisons, Paenther suddenly tells her to come, and he steals her out of the house. When he won’t answer her questions, Skye realizes he’s somehow become enthralled. She calls the animals of the others and they come to stop Paenther. They finally figure out that the cuffs Birik put on Paenther to keep him from shifting are what has been driving the Ferals’ animals crazy. With Skye’s help, the Shaman removes them. But Paenther’s in trouble. His feral marks are starting to fade and he can no longer shift without Skye to help him pull his animal through in a blaze of pain.
The Shaman suggests that Skye may be able to heal Paenther but she needs some training in pulling good energies. He knows of a Mage who may help her. Paenther drives her to Ezekiel who teaches her. But when she tries to pull the good energies, she can’t, for the Shaman bound her power in Feral House when she first arrived so she couldn’t use it against them.
Paenther and Skye make love and admit their love for one another, then return to Feral House to discover Fox and Jag are missing. They fear they’ve been taken by the Mage to be sacrificed in one of Birik’s rituals. Paenther’s the only who can find the way back into that mountain cavern, but his connection with his animal is too damaged to risk it. The mountain’s warding could cause the connection to break, killing him. Skye offers to try to raise the good energies again to try to heal him, if they’ll trust her and unbind her magic. But the ritual only partially works, but it’s enough.
They return to the mountain where Paenther allows Skye to enthrall him and lead him in as her prisoner. They hope, once inside, she can free him, but their plan fails, Paenther is taken, and Skye is guarded as she gathers animals for the night’s ritual—a ritual designed to free Satanan from the Daemon blade.
Paenther comes awake to find himself chained upright near Jag and Fox. Vhyper joins them, taunting them with the truth, that Fox was the one who brought Paenther to the market to be captured by Skye. Fox’s soul had been cut out months ago without anyone, including Fox, being aware. All this time, he’s been under the control of the Mage.
The Ferals are enthralled once more and Skye barely frees them before they’re sacrificed. The battle commences, Fox and Vhyper both now fighting for the Mage. But just as Paenther’s soul is about to be stolen by Birik’s sorcerers, Skye reaches into Vhyper, finds and strengthens the good man, and Vhyper finally breaks free of the Mage control, for his soul was never really gone. Paenther and Vhyper kill Birik and battle his men, including Fox. They have no choice but to kill him and Vhyper does it with his snake’s poison. Thanks to the earthquakes caused by the Mage deaths, the caverns begin to crumble. Together, Paenther, Vhyper, Jag, and Skye escape.
With Birik dead, Skye is finally free of the spells he’d woven into her cantric. When they return to Feral House and the goddess rock, Skye is finally able to pull enough good energy to heal Paenther completely, reversing the damage he’s lived with for hundreds of years. All the Ferals feel her magical enchantress’s touch.
Paenther asks her to become his mate. She fears the others won’t accept her, a Mage, but they do, with open arms, gifting her with presents of pets. One week later, Lyon gives her his own wedding gift when he takes her back to Ezekiel’s house and she finds her mother and her Mage family waiting for her. Ezekiel had found them for her. Good Mage, with their souls intact, Skye’s family will be valuable allies in the coming war.
Julianne believes she's a normal Therian until the Ilina, Melisande, appears out of thin air with the news that Julianne is part Ilina—one of a female race of mist-warriors believed long extinct. Melisande demands Julianne find for her the rare bloodred moonstone that resides somewhere in the Alexandria Therian enclave, Julianne's home. If she fails, or if she tells anyone about the Ilinas, Melisande will kill her and the ones she tells in order to protect the secret of her race's existence.
Julianne searches, but she can't find the moonstone. And to make matter worse, Zeeland's finally coming home. One of the enclaves warriors, Zeeland was her best friend, then her first, if unrequited, love. Ten years ago, he left the enclave for good after she offered him her virginity and he turned her down, breaking her heart.
Zeeland's self-imposed exile in Britain ends when a mutual friend reveals that Julianne, a talented pianist, has taken to playing Beethoven night and day. Zeeland recognizes the significance for Julianne had played Beethoven endlessly when she first was orphaned years ago. He knows something's wrong and books the first flight back to Washington, D.C.
When Zeeland sees Julianne for the first time in ten years, he's swept away by her beauty, but devastated to see the fear lurking deep in her eyes, a fear no one else seems to see. He asks her what's wrong and she brushes him coolly aside as if they were never the best of friends. He doesn't know what's going on, but vows to get to the bottom of it.
Three of the Feral Warriors join the enclave for dinner that night. When Jag makes a clearly-unwanted move on Julianne, Zeeland comes to her aid. But when she tries to escape Zee again, he steers her into the library and demands answers. He discovers that she believes he left her in disgust all those years ago when nothing could be further from the truth. He admits that he left because she was too young and he'd wanted her too badly. But when his friends burst into the room, demanding he join them for poker, Julianne makes her escape and he's no closer to ferreting out the truth of what has her scared.
Later, Zeeland goes to Julianne's bedroom, intent on demanding answers. But at the sight of her tears, he takes her into his arms and soon he's kissing her and she's begging him to make love to her. But as the passion rises, Julianne feels a strangeness begin to sweep through her body and she fears she's about to turn to mist, as all Ilinas sometimes do. She looks at Zeeland in horror and orders him out of her room. He thinks he's scared her, that he was too rough with her, and feels terrible. Needing to ease Zeeland's guilt without giving too much away, Julianne enters his dreams—an ability all Ilinas possess. In the dream she tells him she's not afraid of him but of something else she can't share with him.
When Zeeland awakens, he goes to confront her again, but when he reaches her room, he hears two female voices, then the sound of Julianne's pain. He bursts into the room to protect her and finds it empty but for Julianne. He demands to know what's going on and finally gets the full truth out of her. He's shocked to realize the Ilinas still exist, but so glad to know why Julianne's been pushing him away. He vows to protect her from Melisande.
They search for the red moonstone Melisande seeks, and for information on the Ilinas, and finally find both. That night, Julianne wears the stone to the enclave's Valentine's party where the Feral, Kougar, sees it and seems to recognize it, though he says nothing.
Zee and Julianne leave the party for her bedroom where they make love. But afterward, Melisande appears, sees Julianne in mist form in front of Zeeland, and grows irate. She tries to pull both of them into the Crystal Realm where they'll die and therefore never reveal the truth of the Ilinas' survival to anyone else. But together they fight her off. Just as they free themselves, Kougar bursts into the room.
Kougar knows Melisande and confronts her, asserting that Zeeland is only a threat so long as he and Julianne remain unmated. Once mated, the unbreakable bond will make it impossible for Zee to betray her or her race. Melisande is furious, but can't argue against Kougar's logic, and departs. Kougar leaves as well.
Zeeland asks Julianne to marry him. He assures her that he's known all along that she would someday be his mate. That the thought of it might have scared him a bit, hence his staying away longer than he need to. But he's realized that only with her has he ever been truly happy. He loves her. He wants nothing more that to make her his wife. Julianne happily says yes.
Three wraith Daemons are on the loose and the Ferals have to destroy them at all costs. Lyon enlists the aid of a small Therian Guard unit to help them cover more ground. When the three Guards arrived, during Passion Untamed, Olivia, their leader, caught Jag’s eye. In his charming way, Jag grabbed her breast and suggested she go to bed with him. Olivia drove her high heel through his instep in answer. Jag hasn’t been able to get the beautiful redhead out of his mind and now, as the teams are being formed, he’s determined to force her to be his partner. He comes onto her in his usual crass way, thoroughly enjoying her swift, tart comebacks and the fire in her eyes. Of course, she wants nothing to do with him, so he manipulates her watchdog underlings until they’re both ready to rip his throat out and she has no choice but to partner with him herself.
He’s hugely self-satisfied until they head for Harpers Ferry to search for Mage activity and she starts psychoanalyzing him, positing that he only acts like an ass because he needs others to hate him as much as he hates himself. He scoffs.
Olivia is far more intrigued by Jag than she wants to be. She figured he was just a first-class jerk until she saw him nearly take down one of her men for inadvertently hurting the feelings of the Ferals’ half-flamingo housekeeper. Jag never taunts anyone he might actually hurt. She’s come to realize he may be a messed-up male, but he’s not a cruel one, as she’d first thought. Despite his need to infuriate his brothers, and her, he’s a man with honor. And she’s attracted to him. But Jag is the last one she wanted to partner with for an entirely different reason. She has a secret no one can ever know. When she was a child, she was nearly killed by draden, but survived, inexplicably changed. Draden-kissed. And just like the draden, she needs to feed off the life force of others to survive. She’s always been able to feed without others knowing, or being harmed by it, but Jag, amazingly, feels something when she feeds and sooner or later he’ll figure it out. She’ll wind up dead or, at the very least, ostracized.
When they get to Harpers Ferry, Olivia invents a need to get away for a short while. As Jag takes off in his mini-jaguar to have a look around and see if he can pick-up the scent of Daemon, Olivia drives to the nearest store to feed. But as she’s leaving the store, she sees a Mage witch enthrall two men. She follows, but loses them.
Jag picks up the scent of Daemon and follows it to a mass grave—a grave Daemons would never have dug. He’s certain Mage are involved. That night, Jag prepares to hunt the Daemons and insists Olivia remain in the car behind protective warding where the draden can’t reach her. A normal Therian could never survive a draden attack, but Olivia is no normal Therian. As soon as Jag leaves, she takes off on her own to feed from the draden, if she gets the chance, and to hunt the Daemon herself. She finds the Daemon and it’s more terrifying than she’d ever imagined. Jag calls to check on her and she tells him where she is. The Daemon attacks her, but when she tries to feed from it, it takes off.
Jag finds Olivia injured, but alive. But as they start back for the car, a swarm of draden attack. He orders her beneath him and shifts into his jaguar, but he’s not big enough to keep them from reaching her. Refusing to let her die, he shifts back into a man and fights the draden, but there are far too many. They’re both going to die.
Olivia is having a crisis of conscience. They can both easily survive this if she only tells him her secret. So she does, orders him to shift, and she moves away from him and feeds off the draden freely. When the swarm is dispersed, Jag is livid that she nearly let him die. He knows her secret and has her at his mercy. He orders her onto her hands and knees.
Olivia’s in trouble. Jag holds her life in his hands and she does not trust this Feral at all. They set out to track the Daemon and follow his scent to a run-down white house where they see the Mage and realize they’re using humans as bait to fill the power orbs with Daemon energy. Jag calls the other teams to Harpers Ferry. Jag’s and Olivia’s relationship becomes strangely close as Jag both protects her secret and holds it over her head. He’s the first one she’s been able to be herself around in centuries. For Jag’s part, he’s falling for this woman and doesn’t want to be. The more he starts to care, the more he pushes to keep some emotional distance between them.
Olivia’s feeding from the Daemon has made her stronger. The others join them and together the Feral team head for that white house in the woods. They find it heavily warded and the Ferals shift into their animals and fly through the warding into a dark trap where they can’t see, and can’t escape the Daemon inside. They’re at risk of dying right there until Kougar is visited by two Ilinas. They tell him they’ll save him and his friends on one condition: that he allow them to reconnect the mating bond with Ariana, Queen of the Ilinas, the mate who betrayed and nearly destroyed him a thousand years ago. With no choice, he says yes.
The Ferals return to Feral House to regroup. Olivia’s mourning the death of one of her men and Jag can’t stand seeing her in pain, especially for another man. But when he realizes her fear had been all for him, his heart melts and they make love tenderly for the first time. Jag finally tells her about the incident from his past, his mother’s death, that he’s never been able to forgive himself for. Jag and Olivia have fallen in love and neither of them knows what to do about it.
Jag and Olivia slip away into the woods so she can feed off the draden and they end up making love. But when Olivia admits she’s starting to have strong feelings for him, Jag pushes her away as usual, telling her he doesn’t need a draden-kissed life-stealer caring about him. He says the words to hurt her and drive her away and they work, but they do far more as Lyon and the other Ferals were approaching and heard. Now they all know she’s draden-kissed. Jag convinces them not to kill her, but Lyon orders her to go and she does. Jag follows, but she wants nothing to do with his apology. He might not have meant the outcome, but he’d meant to hurt her and they both know it. Now her life is over. As they sit on the rocks in silence, a small girl runs screaming out of the woods. But when they race to her aid, she snaps Mage eyes at them, capturing and enthralling them both.
Jag awakes to find himself with the other Ferals heading back to Harpers Ferry. Olivia is gone, captured by the Mage. They find her staked around a vortex along with six young humans. The Mage have turned her into a power source to open the spirit trap from which none emerge alive, a trap that will destroy a Feral animal spirit as well as the man himself. As the Ferals battle the Daemons and the Mage sentinels, the spirit trap opens and Tighe and Hawke fall in.
Olivia is under a spell that forces her to feed, and Jag has to stop her before she kills them all. But he can’t bring himself to kill her. Instead he urges her to try to reverse her feeding, sending her power out instead of pulling it in, and she manages to do that, then nearly dies when she falls unconscious again still giving her power away. But, once the battle’s over, Jag and the other Ferals, with Kara’s help, save her. Three of the humans are still alive, but the Ferals can’t take their memories and they decide to take them back to Feral House until the energy Olivia gave them wears off. Jag promises Olivia he’s changed and he’ll spend the rest of his immortal life proving it to her. He loves her and wants her to be his mate. But Olivia already knows and gladly accepts. The Ferals embrace her as one of their own, for without her help, they couldn’t have won.
A thousand years ago, Ariana, Queen of the Ilinas, Kougar’s mate of just two years, died along with all of her maidens in a cataclysmic event that wiped out the entire Ilina race. At least that’s what Kougar and the rest of the world believed until twenty years ago when Kougar learned the truth—that his ‘beloved’ faked her own death, severing their mating bond, leaving him living a half-life, grieving for her for a thousand years.
He’s had no desire to seek her out, no desire to ever see her again. But fate has other plans. Hawke and Tighe are caught in a spirit trap from which there is no escape, except…possibly…one. Only one person has ever been able to breech the spirit trap and return alive. The Queen of the Ilinas. Kougar will do whatever he must to save his friends, even track down his traitorous mate. And he can do it now, thanks to the reconnecting of his mating bond. During a desperate battle in Rapture Untamed, two of Ariana’s lieutenants came to him demanding the reconnection in return for saving the lives of him and his men.
For a thousand years, Ariana has been stuck in corporeal form, unable to turn to mist, unable to live in the Crystal Realm for any length of time. A thousand years ago, when Kougar and Ariana mated, Melisande sought out a sorcerer for a spell that would keep the bond from fully taking, believing their mating was a mistake and would never last. But the sorcerer was a Mage who sought to keep the Ilinas from joining forces with his enemies, the Ferals. He placed a connector spell within the magic, a way to pour poison into it. And while that poison didn’t harm Ariana, it flowed through her into her maidens. Almost too late, Ariana realized her race was dying. The only way to save them was to take their poison into herself and never release it again, which meant never turning to mist. And the only way to save Kougar was to sever the mating bond through which the poison would reach him, too. But Kougar never knew any of this.
Through the mating bond, Kougar is able to follow Ariana and he catches her, demanding she save his men from the spirit trap. She refuses. Kougar believes Ariana has been turned soulless and she tries to convince him that’s true, tries to make him leave her alone. Not only can’t she help him without turning to mist and killing off her race, but she fears that if he knows the truth, his heart may soften, opening that mating bond, killing him from the poison. But Kougar glimpses the bracelet of red moonstones she wears and remembers that moonstones keep an Ilina from turning to mist. He rips the bracelet off her, and while she doesn’t turn, the bracelet also served to block Hookeye from sensing her existence. She sees Hookeye’s eyes rise in her mind and knows he’s seen her. She fears they’ll become his target again.
Meanwhile, in Feral House, Wulfe watches over the three humans whose memories couldn’t be taken during the final battle of Rapture Untamed. The Ferals brought them back to Feral House, imprisoning them until Olivia’s energy wears off and they can be safely released. One of them, a lovely blond, wakes. Natalie. And as he watches her fight her fear and her grief, he finds himself admiring her strength. Intrigued.
Kougar doesn’t understand why Ariana is so frantic to return to her maidens and doesn’t care. She’s going to save his friends and that’s all there is to it. He takes her back to Feral where the Shaman identifies the spell in the mating bond and declares that Kougar may have only a week to live before the poison kills him. He finally understands why Ariana severed the bond all those years ago, understands that she’s not soulless after all. But the fact that she left him grieving for a thousand years is almost worse. His, Tighe, and Hawke’s only chance of survival lies in disabling the poison. And to do that they have to find Hookeye. But he could be anywhere.
Wulfe tries again to take Natalie’s memories and fails. But he can’t take his eyes off the jagged Daemon scar on her cheek and he presses his palm to her cheek and takes it, transferring the scar to his own cheek. Natalie is at once horrified and incredibly moved by his selfless act.
As they sleep together in Kougar’s room, Ariana joins him in his dream only to realize he’s not dreaming but visiting her own memories from long ago. They travel together from memory to memory, landing in a scene Ariana doesn’t remember. She watches herself performing some kind of ritual in a temple she doesn’t recognize. And it becomes clear she’s lost memories she shouldn’t have, for an Ilina never forgets.
Delaney reveals to Kara and Olivia that she’s pregnant and they mourn the fact that Tighe may never see his son.
Ariana and Melisande go to the Temple of the Queens for Ariana to try to reclaim her lost memories through a second Awakening, but Melisande is caught in a Mage trap and her feet sink into the floor. Brielle hears their cry for help and fetches Kougar who takes Jag with him. Together, they shift into their animals and race into the temple past the Mage guards. They find the hidden stair to the ritual rooms below. While Jag holds back the Mage, Kougar fights his way to the lowest level where Ariana cries out in pain. The temple is punishing her for requesting the knowledge of the ancient Ilinas a second time. Kougar leaps into the pool, shielding her, taking the pain himself.
Ariana and Kougar wonder if they might be able to find the sorcerer, Hookeye, if Ariana walks in his dreams. They wait until she senses the sorcerer is asleep and find him. But while talking to him in his dream, a mini-jaguar races by and they realize he saw them enter the temple. He’s in the Temple of the Queens, floors above where they are right now. Kougar wants to go after him, but the temple is full of Mage and the Ilinas can’t bring more Ferals, not with the temple now a trap for the misting Ilinas.
Ariana begins to remember some of the things she’s forgotten, one of which is that she needs the Crystal of [Reyas?] to reach the spirit trap, once she can turn to mist, and the crystal is hidden within the Crystal Realm. Together, they go there and find it. Kougar is impatient to attack the Mage and Hookeye, but Ariana is remembering much now and wants to know more in case something she’s forgotten is critically important. He gives her [12 hours]. As they wait, Kougar finally tells her the story of his deep past, during the time of the Sacrifice, something he’s never shared with her or anyone. And she begins to see why trusting her and sharing himself completely is so hard for him.
Ariana finally retrieves the memory she needs, one that tells her the way to free herself from the poison. But when she tries it, she realizes too late that the memory was a lie planted by Hookeye. Instead of destroying the poison, she loses control and turns to mist. Now the poison has infected her maidens and Hookeye controls them all. The only one Ariana is able to save is Melisande. The rest of her maidens mist to the Temple of the Queens to stand as the first line of defense against the Ferals. Hookeye knows they’re coming for him and he’ll make them cut down the enthralled Ilinas to reach him. Ariana and Melisande transport the Ferals beyond the magical warding of the temple, then battle their way inside to help Ariana reach the portal to the spirit trap. But inside the temple, a bubble springs up around most of the Ferals and they realize Hookeye intends to throw them all into the spirit trap.
Kougar alone is free and he and Ariana battle against a tide of Mage sentinels, finally cutting down Hookeye just as he was about to open the spirit trap. Kougar and Ariana race to the portal and Ariana dives into the mystical wormhole that will lead to the spirit trap…and immediately falls unconscious. Kougar realizes what’s going to happen. If she doesn’t turn to mist before she reaches the trap, she’ll die. He dives in after her, pours his love into her, and finally brings her around seconds before they reach that dark trap. Ariana turns to mist, enters the trap, and retrieves both Hawke and Tighe, delivering them safely to the others.
Kougar begs her to be his mate again for all time. Ariana stands between the group of Ilinas and the group of Ferals and realizes her mistake a thousand years ago was thinking she couldn’t be both Queen of the Ilinas and mate of a Feral Warrior. But she can be. She’s going to be. Because she loves her Feral above all.
Faith, an immortal Therian, lives in Poland among the runaways and throwaways, helping them get off the streets. When she meets Maxim, the first fellow Therian she's seen in years, she experiences a strange feeling of recognition and connection, and the utter belief that they belong together. He feels the same. He tells her he's been marked to be the next Feral Warrior and will soon be traveling to Feral House outside of Washington, D.C. He wants her to come with him, to be his mate. Faith is nothing if not practical, but the draw she feels toward Maxim is fierce and she fears that if she doesn't at least explore this connection, she could miss her one chance at true happiness.
Faith accompanies Maxim to Feral House in Great Falls, Virginia, where she meets Hawke and experiences a dismaying attraction to him, an attraction she does not feel for her intended mate. Still, her conviction that she belongs with Maxim remains. Hawke is enchanted by the darling woman with the killer smile and falls head over heels for her. But she's off limits, belonging to his newest Feral brother. Unfortunately, Hawke despises Maxim, as all the Ferals do. And watching him touch Faith tears at his already fragile control.
Hawke's recent imprisonment in a Daemon spirit trap has left him damaged, constantly struggling against a vicious rage that rips away his control. When Hawke loses control, the animal spirit takes over and rips away the man's consciousness. When Hawke finally comes back to himself, he's often been gone for hours, sometimes days. He can no longer shift into his animal and retain control.
When the Ferals bring Maxim into his animal for the first time, they're shocked when, instead of turning into the fox they expect, he shifts into a saber-toothed cat, one of the seventeen animal spirits lost centuries ago. They rejoice as they realize that in freeing Hawke and Tighe from the spirit trap, Ariana must have inadvertently freed some, perhaps all, of the missing animal spirits.
Soon, more newly-marked Ferals arrive at Feral House, including Ewan and Kieran, both old friends of Olivia's, and a huge, bad-tempered male they dub Mountain Man. Seven more in all. When they're brought into their animals, Kieran becomes Fox, Ewan shifts into a polar bear, Polaris, and Mountain Man becomes Grizz, the grizzly bear shifter.
But while the Ferals rejoice, and Maxim appears to settle in, Faith becomes more and more withdrawn. Hawke's instincts tell him that Maxim's hurting her. But he has no evidence, and when he confronts Faith, she assures him she's just homesick. Still, he's certain something's wrong, though he concedes that maybe it's only him that's all wrong. His increasing lack of control has them all worried, for it's becoming evident that he's losing the connection with his animal. If it severs completely, he'll die.
The truth is, Hawke's right, Faith is being abused by the sadistic Maxim, but she doesn't remember. Maxim has the rare ability to control the thoughts and actions of another immortal. The night after the ceremony that brings the other new Ferals into their animals, Maxim tells Faith how the new Ferals were not the ones meant to be marked, how they'll rise up and destroy the original nine Ferals, then help the Mage free the Daemons. And how he'll make sure Hawke suffers before he dies. He intends to wipe her mind free of his truths, as he has every night, but the thought of Hawke being harmed sparks a fury that makes Faith draw fangs and claws. Literally. Maxim's shocked and Faith is horrified to realize that she, too, is one of the seventeen new Ferals.
Faith escapes Maxim and races to tell Hawke about Maxim's evil plan, though she keeps her terrible secret to herself for now. But it's too late. The attack has already begun out on the cliffs of Great Falls while the Ferals were fighting draden. When the battle's over, one new Feral is dead and two of the originals—Paenther and Jag—are critically injured. The remaining new Ferals have fled except for Grizz who fought the evil in his animal and allowed himself to be captured.
The one bright spot—Hawke and Faith realize that she's been controlled by Maxim all along, that she was never meant to belong to him, and that they're free to be together. They finally kiss. Together they fight off a draden attack, saving one another, when the new Ferals attack Feral House.
But the Ferals are in a world of hurt, now faced with an enemy every bit as strong as they are. An enemy that will need radiance as much as they do. They may have no choice but to kill the infected Ferals and hope that the next ones marked are free of the evil. Faith hears this and knows what it means for her. But she also knows she has to tell them the truth. That evening she shows Hawke her feral marks. He's devastated, but he loves her and vows to do whatever it takes to keep her alive and safe.
Hawke tells the other Ferals that Faith has been marked. The Ferals join Hawke in trying to teach her how to fight and to defend herself while they figure out what to do. Ariana and the Shaman work out a ritual to cure the new Ferals of the magical infection. It works on Grizz and Lynx, who they've captured, but not on Faith since she hasn't yet been brought into her animal.
They bring Faith into her animal on the goddess rock above the Potomac and she turns into a falcon. They give her the Feral name of Falkyn. But the evil that infects her animal spirit is released to infect Faith and she fights to escape them. They lock her in their prison and Hawke demands to be locked in with her, unwilling to be parted from her even though Faith is not herself. They make wild love and Hawke fears he's hurt her. His connection with his animal begins to shatter. Faith's animal begs her to fight back the darkness and keep Hawke tethered. For a short time, Faith comes back to herself.
Faith has always had a gift for language and is able to communicate with the falcon spirit who, in turn, is able to communicate with the hawk spirit. Faith explains to Hawke that his animal isn't fighting him. Instead, he's fighting to stay connected to him. Hawke's always maintained a distance with his animal. When he was first marked, first went feral, he nearly killed a child he adored and he's kept fierce control over the wildness inside him ever since. He's denied the true connection he could have with his hawk spirit.
Faith loses her control over the darkness again and starts to fight Hawke, which only further frays his own tenuous control. His only chance hinges on Ariana and the Shaman's ability to free Faith from the dark infection. But as they perform the ritual, Hawke loses control to his animal and flies off. When the ritual is complete and Faith is free of the darkness, she orders the Ferals to let her fly after him and they let her go. The falcon spirit cajoles the hawk into letting the Feral retake control and Hawke and Faith fly together briefly before landing and shifting back to human. Faith, with her unique ability to communicate directly with her animal spirit, learns that Hawke must trust the hawk spirit completely if the connection between them is ever going to heal. But though Hawke tries, he doesn't know how to do it.
They return to Feral House where Lyon's received a video from Maxim. The evil Feral has two of the girls Faith had been helping chained in his dungeon in Poland. He'll kill them if she doesn't join them. The Ferals have sensed a powerful energy being called in that same place in Poland. Energy they believe may be strengthening Satanan. They know it's a trap and Hawke doesn't want Faith to go, but she insists. This is why she was marked to be a Feral. She knows now—the falcon spirit has told her—that she wasn't an accident, that her animal fought hard to claim her.
The Ilinas transport the Ferals, Hawke, and Faith to Maxim's castle, but they find it solidly warded against all but the birds. And Hawke can't shift without losing himself to the bird. Faith is the only one who can breach the castle through the chimney flue, as Maxim warned. She gets in without any trouble, but Maxim springs the trap they were afraid of, controlling her, and ordering her to kill one of the girls he has chained.
Hawke knows killing the girl will destroy Faith. He alone can help her, but that means shifting. If he shifts and loses control one more time, he's going to die. But if anything happens to Faith, he'll never forgive himself. His life is over either way. For the first time, he gives up control to his animal willingly, completely, and begs the hawk spirit to help him save Faith. This is what the animal spirit has been waiting for all along. They join forces—mind and will—and fly in to save the woman Hawke loves. Together, Hawke and Faith defeat Maxim and free the girls. Hawke asks Faith to be his mate and she agrees without hesitation. She loves him desperately.
But as they rejoin the Ferals, they get terrible news. Back at Feral House, Kara has been kidnapped.
Therian Guard leader, Kieran, is thrilled to discover he’s been marked to be a new Feral Warrior and quickly makes his way to Feral House in Great Falls, Virginia where he learns he’s one of eighteen new Ferals expected to arrive soon—seventeen marked by the lost animal spirits, plus the fox shifter to replace the deceased Foxx. When Kieran is brought into his animal, he discovers he’s the latter and is given the Feral name Fox. The Ferals’ euphoria at their growing numbers dissolves in shock and fury when those marked by the lost animal spirits rise up against them. They soon realize that the seventeen were infected by dark magic by the Ferals’ enemy, the evil Mage, Inir. With them, Inir intends to create his own evil Feral army.
To make matters worse, Kara, the Ferals’ beloved Radiant, is kidnapped by the Mage. Both good and evil Ferals need her radiance to survive. But the good guys have no way to find her. At last, Fox’s gift of intuition offers up a clue, West Virginia, which means little until they receive word that two newly-marked Ferals—Castin and Estevan—were spotted within five miles of one another on the very mountain in West Virginia once rumored to be the site of a Mage stronghold. It’s clear that Inir is calling the new Ferals to him, and plans to force Kara to bring them into their animals to grow his evil army.
Zeeland (the hero of the novella Hearts Untamed) arrives at Feral House with his wife, Julianne. An old friend of Fox’s, Zee, too, has been marked to be a Feral Warrior. When Zee’s old enemy Melisande appears, he pushes his wife behind him and prepares to do battle, but Kougar steps between them, essentially ordering them to play nice. Melisande is an ally of the Ferals, now.
Melisande, second-in-command to the Ilina queen, Ariana, is an ancient mist warrior and the survivor of a horrible attack by shifters millennia ago that left her emotionally frozen and with a deep hatred toward all Ferals. When she first meets Fox in the Ferals’ foyer, and the far too attractive shifter attempts to flirt with her, she blasts him with energy meant to drive him to his knees in pain. Instead, the bolt backfires, filling the male with rapturous pleasure and critically damaging the icy shell Melisande’s worn, like armor, for millennia. To her bitter dismay, she begins to feel again, which both infuriates and terrifies her. Ever since the attack that all but destroyed her, she’s dedicated her life to only two things—protecting her queen and Ilina sisters, and seeking vengeance on the shifter who betrayed her all those years ago. Castin. Both of her purposes are threatened by the return of the emotion she no longer has any use for.
Ariana offers to help the Ferals find Kara and tasks Melisande with assigning Ilinas to the two Feral teams—one tracking Estevan, the other Castin. Melisande has no intention of getting personally involved in this mission—the less she’s around the hated Ferals, the better. But then Estevan’s and Castin’s faces are flashed onto the screen and she realizes the Castin they’re searching for is the very male she’s been hunting for five thousand years. If she doesn’t secure her vengeance before he acquires the power of his animal, she may never get another chance. Swallowing her frustration, she assigns herself to the team tracking Castin, the team, unfortunately, that Fox has already been assigned to.
The two teams travel to West Virginia and split up. Fox’s intuition begins to run rampant and he starts to see visions of his own captivity, which he fears are premonitions of the future. Then he inadvertently leads his team into Mage warding, killing one of the two Ilinas. Melisande is badly injured, but survives thanks to Fox’s quick action to save her.
Fox and Melisande soon find themselves alone and trapped in a deadly Mage labyrinth, a Daemon mind game. The only way out is to find and destroy the key, which could be anything—animal, mineral, or plant. The labyrinth dumps Fox and Melisande into three different ‘worlds’, one after another – a medieval seaport, a tropical beach with cutthroat natives, and a frozen tundra with a monster. As they make their way through successive trials, Fox and Melisande grow closer, learn to trust one another, and slowly fall in love. Melisande finally tells him her story—how she was captured and tortured by shifters 5000 years ago in their desperation to reclaim the power of their animals. And how it was Castin, her friend and lover, who handed her over to them. Melisande’s deep hatred of shifters finally makes sense to Fox even as Melisande has come to realize that he’s nothing like the others, that he’s a good and gentle man inside.
When her attraction to Fox reignites Melisande’s Ilina hunger, she’s desperate for completion, yet fears it, thanks to the abuse she suffered long ago. Fox promises to let her take the lead and they finally make love, carefully, sweetly, helping to heal Melisande’s battered soul. Melisande finally admits to him the real source of her pain—that a thousand years ago, when her queen, Ariana, fell in love with a Feral—Kougar—Melisande sought out a Mage potion master for a potion that would keep their mating bond from fully forming. Through the haze of her own hatred for the shifters, she was certain Ariana would soon realize her mistake and want out of the marriage. But the Mage was actually a poison master and used the opportunity to attempt to wipe out the entire Ilina race. Two-thirds of the Ilinas died before Ariana managed to stop the poison. And Melisande has never forgiven herself for the tragedy that befell her sisters.
Fox slowly comes to realize that the visions he’s seeing are not premonitions of things to come, but glimpses of the past seen through the eyes of his two most recent fox-shifter predecessors, Foxx and Sly. When he watches Inir try to rip the animal spirit from Sly and infect it with darkness, he realizes that his animal spirit has been compromised and that it has been sending him false intuitions that have led him into trouble. Through one of the late Foxx’s memories, he finally learns how to tell the difference between his true intuition and the false intuitions being fed to him by his damaged animal spirit.
In the snow world, a great earthquake traps Fox and Mel, and another along with them. Castin. To Fox’s surprise, the ancient male is delighted to see Melisande, but Melisande turns on him, her need for vengeance such a fire in her soul that when Fox steps into the fray, she attacks him, too. And he’s not healing like an immortal should. None of the Ferals are, thanks to Inir’s machinations. Seeing Fox’s blood—blood she’s drawn—sends Mel into a tailspin of guilt and grief as she’s swamped by the memory of all the sisters she killed.
Castin assures her that he never betrayed her, that his clan turned on him almost at the same moment they did her, knocking him out and selling him to slavers to keep him from stopping their attack on the Ilinas. Fox believes him. Ultimately, so does Melisande.
Together, the three are thrown into yet another of the labyrinth’s worlds where they run into a frantic Kara. As Kara leads the way, desperate to escape her pursuers, they follow, and suddenly find themselves captured in a cage that rises up from the ground. Another Mage trap. When Kara begins to scream with terror, Fox sees the truth, for the Kara he’s come to know is no coward. He pulls out his blade, and in a move that nearly tears his heart from his chest, cuts off the woman’s head. Instantly she disappears and he knows he was right. She wasn’t Kara at all, but an illusion. The key. By destroying it, he’s destroyed the labyrinth.
Suddenly, the world around them disappears and they find themselves back in the forest of West Virginia, staring up at Inir’s stronghold. Thanks to the visions he’s been getting, Fox knows of a secret passage into the castle, one that even Inir doesn’t know about. As the three head for the stronghold, the fox animal spirit sends Fox a host of false intuitions, but Fox is onto the game and ignores them. So the spirit starts shutting him down, hampering his movements. Only with Melisande’s healing touch is Fox able to fight back.
When Melisande first met Fox, her emotions began to reawaken, and so too did her core essence, that of a Ceraph—an angel-like Ilina with the ability to ease the torment of others. Although she’s been fighting her softer side ever since she met Fox, wanting nothing but to return to the emotionless woman she’s been for so long—one not tormented by the things she’s done—she’s losing the fight. Her growing feelings for Fox are stripping away all of those harsh defenses. The problem is, the Ceraph within her can’t bear the thought of killing again—an act wholly against her angelic nature. The battle between the two parts of her is slowly tearing Melisande apart.
While Castin stands guard outside, Melisande and Fox steal into the castle through the hidden entrance. Fox makes telepathic contact with Kara and learns where she is, but his rescue attempt is shut down cold when his animal spirit finally finds the strength to take over and pin him, immobile, to the ground just as two Mage guards approach. Melisande tries to help him, but they’re out of time. She’s in crisis, the Ilina warrior’s need to fight battling with the Ceraph’s abhorrence of violence. Finally, Melisande struggles past the emotion and the guilt, merging her two halves—the angelic healer and the ruthless protector, both sides of her desperate to save the man she loves. She slays the Mage attackers before they can harm Fox or sound an alarm, then, using a powerful surge of healing energy, she frees Fox and heals him of the darkness, once and for all.
Together, Fox and Mel rescue Kara and return to Castin. But as the three try to escape the forest, they soon find themselves surrounded by Mage. Moments later, the rest of the Ferals arrive, Lyon leading the way. The Chief of the Ferals rejoices in being reunited with his mate and the Ferals take on the Mage and win. Lyon orders them back to Feral House to regroup and heal before they return to take on Inir. Fox asks Melisande to marry him and she says yes.
After the mating ceremony, Melisande, now an Ilina Ceraph, finds Julianne and asks her forgiveness for the pain she caused her. She’s not the woman she was before—both Zeeland and Julianne see that—and Julianne graciously grants her request.