Changeling Dawnby Dani Harper
Shadow and moonlight merge beneath her bare feet, the forest floor blurring as she flees the dogs and torches. Werewolf, monster--those are the names given her kind by the humans who hate them.
Kenzie Macleod has spent her whole life hiding what she is, and she's not about to open up to any man, even one as powerfully/b>/b>
Shadow and moonlight merge beneath her bare feet, the forest floor blurring as she flees the dogs and torches. Werewolf, monster--those are the names given her kind by the humans who hate them.
Kenzie Macleod has spent her whole life hiding what she is, and she's not about to open up to any man, even one as powerfully attractive as wildlife expert Josh Talarkoteen. But legend says that a Changeling cannot escape the call of her true mate, even in the wilderness of backcountry Alaska.
An isolated archeological site, a terrified Changeling cub, a shadowy research facility--as Kenzie and Josh face the ultimate betrayal, his obsidian eyes promise untold pleasure and hint at dark secrets of his own. . .
"Make room on the keeper shelf--Dani Harper is definitely an author to watch." --Kate Douglas
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By Dani Harper
BRAVA BOOKSCopyright © 2012 Dani Harper
All right reserved.
Shadow and moonlight merged beneath her bare feet, the dappled forest floor blurring as the little girl ran fast, then faster. Her long plaid skirts were hiked around her waist, and bushes and twigs reached for the woolen fabric like bony hands.
They were close behind her now. The nervous whining of dogs, the hiss and flicker of torches, the stench of tobacco and ale and human sweat. The excited voices, rough with anger and a little fear.
Her heart threatened to explode from her chest, her lungs were in flames, but she had to run. She had to get away.
She stumbled yet kept her balance. She ran, knowing now that she couldn't outdistance the hunters. She was very young—still, there was one thing left, one thing that could help her.
It spoke to her now, whispered from deep inside her. Call me, it said. Call me now.
Within her, something stirred to life and the hair on her scalp prickled, her skin felt hot and tight. A small stream was in her path and she leapt into the air with the last of her strength—
And landed as a young wolf. Faster now, streamlined, she was nature's perfect running machine, and it was only a matter of minutes before the hunters were left hopelessly behind. Her four paws took her off the narrow game trails and into the deep brush where even the dogs couldn't follow her—if they dared.
Run, run, run. She raced easily, faster and faster. Her fear became exhilaration and she ran with an unbridled joy ... until the ground disappeared beneath her feet and she tumbled headfirst into darkness.
Kenzie Macleod awoke with the scream stuck in her throat. She swallowed it back as awareness dawned, and released the fear on a long shaky exhale.
What the hell was that?
Heart racing and skin slick with sweat, she freed her naked body from the tangled sheets and padded to the kitchen. She pulled a water bottle from the fridge and drank it down with hardly a pause, wiping her mouth on her arm. Better. Her heart rate had returned to normal by the time she stepped into the shower. Her thoughts slowed down as she ran her fingers through her dark hair and reached for a towel.
Fully awake now, stray riverlets of water licking over her skin, she stepped out on the porch of the guest cabin. Still clad in only the towel, she wasn't a bit cold, despite the breeze—Changeling body temperature ran much higher than human. Kenzie breathed in the scents, took in the sounds and sights of her brothers' farm. The sky was lightening, silver gray above the tall poplars. Roosters crowed, livestock stirred. Birds sang to the dawn and a flurry of ducks took off from the pond. She liked it here. She had always liked it here. The abundance of life that seemed to be in the very air made her feel alive, and she let it soothe her.
By the time she yanked on her old jeans and a worn plaid flannel shirt, she felt almost normal. Calm, as she plugged in the coffee pot. But the nightmare was still very much on her mind, because it wasn't a dream....
It was a memory.
For the first half of her Changeling life, she'd had horrendous flashbacks to long-ago Scotland where she'd been born Mackenzie Adair Macleod, youngest child of six, to Ronan and Gwynn. The entire Macleod clan had lived on the Isle of Skye for centuries, but the wolfen sept of the family had gradually moved to the thick Caledonian forests on the mainland. Kenzie's parents had built a homestead in the ancient pine woods. The family grazed a pair of cows in forest glens and gathered medicinal herbs and plants for the market. In their lupine form, they chased big red deer and small swift roe.
The rugged terrain and poor soil precluded serious farming in the area, and therefore human settlement as well. What few humans lived in the forest and along its borders were safe from their neighbors' wolfen natures—Pack law forbade them to be harmed. Kenzie had spent the first six years of her life with playmates from both worlds, not knowing how quickly things could change.
Things always changed—she knew that now. Kenzie sank into an armchair and drank her coffee from a battered blue enamel cup, remembering. Allowing the memories to play out.
Legend had it that the last wolf had been exterminated in Scotland in 1743. History didn't mention that the report was premature by over a century in the remote highland wilderness. It also didn't mention that it was actually a war on Changelings that precipitated the wholesale slaughter of all wolves across the British Isles. The flashpoint had been a series of attacks on humans by rogues, warwoolfes or wulvers, and the result was that no wolf of any kind was ever safe again. The war on wolves had been slow to reach Kenzie's family, and at first the thick pine forests provided refuge for many displaced Changelings.
When she was seven, hunters began to enter the thick woods, keen to collect the rich bounty offered by the crown. The last time Kenzie accompanied her father to the marketplace in Torridon, she had seen tall stacks of wolf pelts. The death of so many creatures was heart-wrenching, but the true horror was revealed by scent—many skins had come not from wolves, but from Changelings in their lupine form. Ronan Macleod had never taken his family to the market again. In fact, they had stayed away from all of the villages after that. But the madness had already infected the forest. Heavy iron traps lay in wait, log falls and pits, ropes and nets. Although few dogs would chase a Changeling—and fewer still would do it more than once—there were some that could scent their nearly imperceptible trail and direct humans to them.
The dream had ended with her fall into darkness, but Kenzie remembered all too clearly everything that happened after that. The breath was knocked out of her as she landed on hard-packed earth. Her lupine body struggled awkwardly against something squeezing her tightly around the middle. As her eyes adjusted, she realized she had fallen into a deep pit filled with long sharpened stakes. Her small body had slid between the posts rather than been impaled upon them. The thick peeled wood would not yield to her young sharp teeth or her struggles, holding her in place as easily as iron bars. On the other side of the pit, a big black wolf had not been so lucky and the stench of blood was thick in her nostrils. Terrified, she had nonetheless obeyed the first rule of the hunted—silence. She neither howled nor cried, fearing the human hunters or their dogs would hear her. She screamed in her mind, however, until she was insensible. It had been the next day—an eternity—before her family came and freed her.
She wasn't entirely free, however. She'd remained a wolf for days, too traumatized to remember how to shift back. And when she finally did, she didn't speak for months, as if her mind was somehow stuck in instinctive silence because of the constant, overwhelming fear that gripped her. Gradually she recovered, but she'd never been free of the fear. Even when her parents moved the family to the raw wilderness of northern Canada, she hadn't been free. She had nightmare flashbacks of the chase, the pit. Of the dying wolf. And when those faded, she still felt distrust.
Her brothers and sisters had been able to build a life that accepted humans. Even Culley, whose leg still bore the scars of an iron trap, had managed to overcome that trauma and move on. For her family's sake, Kenzie pretended that she had too. Like her family, she lived among humans, grew up alongside them, talked and laughed with them. She even liked them—a great deal, if the truth be known. Deep inside, however, there was a part of her that didn't trust them. That couldn't.
Perhaps that's why she ended up studying them.
Kenzie Macleod had twin doctorates in anthropology and archaeology. She turned down many opportunities to teach in favor of digging, and the more isolated the site, the better she liked it. Most people forgave her reclusiveness, chalking it up as natural for an "egghead"—even an attractive one. Professionally, her papers were well-received, her research was respected, her opinion was sought, and her rare lectures never had an empty seat. Her last book wasn't on anyone's bestseller list—Beyond Clovis: Oregon's Ancient People—but it had sold a respectable number of copies so far and two colleges were negotiating to include it in their curriculum. Only last week, National Geographic had asked her to participate in a television program they were filming about Ice Age man. She drained the cup and savored the nutty coffee grounds at the bottom, crunching them between her teeth. Wondered, as she had many times: What would they think if they knew that the so-called expert on humans wasn't one herself? What if they suspect what I'm really searching for?
Even her family didn't know what she sought. No one did, not even her closest, dearest friend, Birkie Peterson, even though Birkie could be trusted to keep a confidence forever. Until Kenzie had found what she was certain existed, discovered irrefutable proof in the form of tangible evidence, she couldn't bring herself to say it out loud. Couldn't bear to hear how crazy it would sound, even to herself.
Certainly her hard-earned credibility would vanish overnight if a single word got out about her true goal. Not only media but social networking sites would spread it far and wide like feathers in a hurricane. She'd be labeled a kook, automatic fodder for late night television jokes, and utterly dismissed in scientific circles. Finding her holy grail after that would be worse than useless—no one would listen to her when she explained its true significance.
Kenzie rinsed out the coffee cup and headed outside, down the wide wooden steps to the narrow path that wound through poplar and spruce trees toward the corrals. She took her time, enjoying the scents and sounds, grateful as always just to be at the farm for a little while. Her oldest brothers, James and Connor, and their families co-owned the sprawling farm. In fact, they owned most of the forested land around it, all the way to the Peace River. Connor had purchased the huge parcel originally, but as a busy veterinarian and owner of the chronically understaffed North Star Animal Hospital, he didn't do much farming aside from keeping an ever-growing assortment of rescued animals. Sure, he'd added a few purebred Highland cattle, but even he admitted they were more for nostalgia than any hope of profit. The big shaggy beasts were basically pets. And despite the fact that he was a gifted healer, he was a certifiable black thumb when it came to plants, so the fields lay fallow. The wild-grown pasture suited the cattle, being of an independent breed that could forage for themselves. It suited the herds of local mule deer too and even a few elk began to frequent the edges of the farm. Poplar trees encroached on the fields, as if nature was determined to reclaim the land.
All of that changed when James came on the scene. Connor's animals remained, of course, but they were joined by top-producing livestock. The unsown land and neglected pastures gave way to certified organic crops. The farm not only prospered but over the years, it had gradually grown until it became the gold standard for sustainable agriculture in this part of the country.
Despite their different talents, James and Connor shared one thing—a deep respect for the earth. While most farmers would cut the timber to add to their cash flow, the mature spruce and poplar forests that flanked the Macleod fields remained standing. Not only were they useful to Changelings as a place to run as wolves, safe from human eyes, but the woods provided refuge for many other creatures as well. And in recent years, James's wife, Jillian, had built a wildlife sanctuary in the northeast woods where she rehabbed injured creatures from owls and ravens to puma and moose.
Kenzie admired her siblings' talents with living things, with plants and animals and earth. Strange how her own aptitudes seemed to lie with things long dead....
"You're up early." The voice in her ear made her jump before her mind registered that it was James. His stalking abilities were legendary, moving as a ghost, whether on two legs or four.
She punched him in the shoulder as hard as she could. "It's rude to sneak up on people."
"It's careless to let me," he countered, and ducked before her fist connected a second time. "I was thinking you might need a ride to town to pick up your truck."
"Thanks, but Zoey's taking me when she goes to the office."
"Not today she's not." A rare grin spread across his face. "Doc Miller arrived just after midnight. Birkie too."
"The baby? Omigod, Zoey's having the baby? When—"
Without warning, the Red Hot Chili Peppers belted out an old classic, Can't Stop. Kenzie dove into her pocket for her cell phone.
Connor was on the line. "Congratulations, you're an auntie."
She squealed, a sound that would have shocked her peers and had James covering his ears in mock pain. "What is it, what is it, what is it?"
"A girl. She has Zoey's hair, and we're still arguing over her name."
Girl, she mouthed to James, who pumped the air and high-fived her. They had both bet against brothers Culley and Devlin, who had put their money on a boy.
"That's fantastic. Congrats to all three of you." She hurried up the trail and through the crowded farmyard until she could glimpse Connor and Zoey's house. Sure enough, Birkie's bright red truck was parked in front of the steps next to the Millers' old tan Lincoln. "I'm so happy for you. Is Zoey okay?"
"Never better. She says hi by the way, and so do Birkie and Lowen. Zoey's going to have a nap—"
It wasn't hard to hear Zoey protesting in the background.
"Oh, all right," sighed Connor. "She wants Aunt Kenzie to come over and introduce herself to the new arrival. And then I'm having a nap, even if no one else is."
"On my way. James is with me, too."
"No, he's not," said James." He's way ahead of you."
He punched her in the arm and sprinted for the house with Kenzie hard on his heels.
Zoey finally did head off for a nap and Kenzie got temporary custody of her red-haired niece. She inhaled her soft baby scent and nuzzled her little wrinkly forehead, kissed her tiny fists.
"Looks good on you." Connor leaned over and gave her a gentle squeeze, mindful of his tiny new daughter in her arms. It seemed a little strange to Kenzie—normally he'd indulge in a full-out bear hug, which often would devolve into a wrestling match. Changeling families tended to be very physical, and the Macleods were no exception. "You know, sis, you love kids so much, why aren't you settling down with a family of your own? You oughta trade in those dusty old bones of yours for a mate."
She rolled her eyes. She didn't need her anthropology degree to know that it was the nature of both humans and Changelings who had found happiness themselves to automatically want everyone around them to experience it too. Whether they wanted to or not. It had been the same when James married Jillian, when their twins had been born, when Connor married Zoey, and now this. She also knew that it was well-intentioned—her brother adored his "little" sister—so she aimed for humor. "Just haven't found a man that my big brother would approve of, that's all. And my inner wolf is very picky."
"I'm not telling you what to do ... Well, hell, I guess I am. I just hate to think of you being alone so much. I'll bet there's not another soul within twenty miles of you and your new dig site."
Twenty-seven and a half miles actually, but she didn't say so. "I'll tell you what, if a man drops out of the sky there, I'll be sure to date him."
"I'll hold you to that," he laughed, and headed upstairs to nap with Zoey.
Kenzie enjoyed walking around the house with her niece on her shoulder, yet she couldn't stop thinking about Connor's brotherly advice. As if he should talk—he'd been alone as long as she had until Zoey Tyler had arrived in their little northern town to take over the reins of Dunvegan's weekly newspaper. Connor had known at once that she was his mate. Known. What would that be like? Kenzie had heard since she was very small that Changelings—or more correctly, their inner wolves—always recognized their true mates when they saw them. It had even happened to her oldest brother, James, and that was a flat-out miracle.
Excerpted from Changeling Dawn by Dani Harper Copyright © 2012 by Dani Harper. Excerpted by permission of BRAVA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Kenzie went through a terrible trauma as a child and has never fully recovered. She has now dedicated her life to prevent this from happening to anyone else. But in turn she has isolated herself from everyone but her family. Kenzie is a loner and wants to keep it that way. But fate has other plans. Josh has suffered his own trauma in his life too. But unlike Kenzie, Josh has tried to face his fears and is willing to move forward. A chance meeting on the side of the road will change everything for these two. Both are running from the ghosts that are chasing them. But when an innocent girl becomes involved both Kenzie and Josh have to face their fears in order to save her. I loved Kenzie and Josh. Poor Kenzie has no idea the changes that are coming her way and BOY does she fight them. Kenzie and Josh banter so much it is was really fun to read. Both are stubborn, determined and absolutely perfect for each other. This was my first book by Dani Harper and even thought it was book three of the series, I didn’t feel that I was missing anything from the previous books. Changeling Dawn can be read as a stand-alone book. But I would recommend reading the first to books. I know I am going to go back and read Changeling Moon and Changeling Dream. If you have not picked up any of the Changeling books I would highly recommend you get started on this series.
Posted on Romancing the Book's blog Reveiwed by Molly Reveiw Copy Provided by ARC from the Author First, let me start off by saying that the cover alone drew me to this book. I mean it’s absolutely gorgeous. Second, I’d like to say that Dani Harper is one of the most talented paranormal authors I’ve had the chance to come across. I’ve not read the first two books in the Changeling series, but I will most definitely be going back and adding them to my wishlist. Her ability to take the paranormal and create it in a way that is absolutely life-like is beautifully stunning! Being a fan of paranormal romance, especially werewolf novels, I like to try new experiences in the paranormal realm. In Changeling Dawn we get so much out of this story that it takes the reader along time to just sit and reflect on how awesome this novel was. Kenzie, a beautiful archaeologist,a changeling wolf, and very much a loner, is instantly gripping. She reaches out to the reader and pulls them into the story to walk beside her. The reader becomes Kenzie and experiences the adventure through her eyes. Kenzie’s on her way to a dig in Alaska when she comes across the very handsome Josh, a wildlife expert. Josh is a man who has experienced so much in life. A life of war and pain, he’s now a wildlife expert and has come across a precious little girl, one he knows needs help. One who is very much like the gorgeous changeling woman he’s come across. As Josh enlists the help of Kenzie to save this sweet little girl, the passion between them can’t be denied. The attraction is more than strong and it’s up to them to bury their past and pain and help a child overcome her fear. Most definitely the best paranormal romance novel I’ve read to date. I can honestly say that I am blown away with this novel! Rose That Rules All can’t possibly come close to the true rating this novel deserves. While the third and final book in this series, Ms. Harper does a fanatical job at keeping the reader up to date with the series, and it could easily be read as a standalone. Well done, Ms. Harper! Bring on the next! Favorite Quote:“Okay, okay, you win. One—just one—date. But that’s all.” She didn’t look at Josh, just stalked off toward the nearest exit. “Do you get all your dates by blackmail?” “Nope,” he said cheerily as he easily kept pace with her. “Only the ones that matter.”
I love to stumble upon a book, with no expectations and be blown away by its storyline. Changeling Dawn did ''Bring It On''! Right into my face! I never suspected to find a great story, characters and a stunning background plot! First of all, Alaska is probably one of the most beautiful places in the world. And the author, Dani Harper, did a great job with the description of the environment/ambiance/atmosphere of her characters: we can almost see, smell and even touch that place through her writing. Changeling Dawn is the first book I read from Dani Harper and wouldn't be the last for sure! Kenzie's the kind of girl who loves to be left alone, working by herself without having to care about others. She's pretty, a kick-ass girl with a temper! She work on her archeological site in Alaska (all alone) and on her way to her site, she'll meet Josh, (the Yummy, sexy, muscular and intriguing wildlife expert) and then a lost changeling cub named Anya hidden near her camp site. Her world would be change forever when she'll try to find out what happened to the poor girl. Kenzie and Josh will team up together and try to help the wolf cub. They will discover something bigger than just a lost pup. Actually, a great story, I really get into the main course: really quickly and everything that happens around the basic plot is just a plus! I love the way everything seem to fall into place, the writing style was great and I never had to put the book down. It was a pleasure to read this book from page one until the very end! I really appreciated the ending. Never thought it would end like this, and I can tell you that I wouldn't take the same decision,...!!! Even if it's the third book of the series, you can read it as a stand-alone book. I didn't read the first two stories, but I never get lost and enjoy it anyway! I recommend this book, go get a copy, borrow it, you can start the series with the first book or read them as stand alone!
This series has grabbed me from the very beginning. Changeling Dawn is book three. I’m not sure what it is; the wolves, the history of the changelings, the intriguing storylines, the feeling of family or even that the author is from Alaska. I’m not sure, but Ms. Harper has sunk her claws in me and won’t let go! Kenzie Maclead is a Changeling. It is all she has ever known. During her long life, she has lived in fear though. As a child she had a life altering event and to this day, it still forms her life, love and dreams. Josh Talarkoteen has been to war and back. He survived an awful tragedy in Afghanistan, but returned to the states a broken man. Though years have passed and the memories have seemed to subside, he is still not over the pain. A scared and abandoned little girl forces their buried memories to resurface. They must work through their pasts to help Anya and possibly each other. They will do everything in their power to protect Anya, even die for her. Ummm WOW!!! Each of the novels in this series has been unique and Changeling Dawn is simply great. They all can be read alone, but why do that when you can enjoy the other two in the series too? As a whole the series is a breath of fresh air; they almost have a calming effect for me. There is action, love, sex and history, but there is much more to these books. They are well thought out and the characters are personable. Nothing is too over the top, just well written stories with heart. Changeling Dawn tells the story of the remaining unmated daughter of the Macleod clan. She is a strong woman and very independent. From the moment she meets Josh she knows there is heat between them, but she refuses to have a relationship with a human. This barrier plagues them through the book and I have to give it to Josh and his tenacity while pursuing her. Josh is a wonderful match for Kenzie and I loved his personality and determination. You could see the strength in him, but he was never a pushy alpha like some heroes in romance novels. He was not afraid to put himself out there for her or even Anya. He is definitely a man of great worth. Ms. Harper really delivers with this story. The action was tense and the love scenes between Kenzie and Josh were sweet. I also enjoyed that we learned a bit more about Changelings. She has done a wonderful job with the world building in this series. I give two thumbs way up for this book and I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the twins’ stories. These two men are going to need some feisty women to tame them and I can’t wait.
I simply loved this book. It has everything that I enjoy in a good paranormal romance. Let me give you a small list; some violence, some humor, a mystery, excitement, sizzling hot sex, and a shape shifting world unlike I have never read before. This book tells the story of Archeologist Kenzie Macleod and Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife expert Josh Talarkoteen. I love my alphas males to be protective of all those around him and Josh is that. He's tough, strong, sexy and a human that can see aura's. Kenzie is smart, strong, stubborn, a changeling and a loner. Received ARC copy L.
another great book in this series....can't wait for #4
I love seeing Kenize and Josh fall in love. He was just what a firecracker like her need. What really made him prefect for her is he help her get over her fear.
My Thoughts: Dani Harper is a new author for me, and I am so very glad I found her. The covers for her books really drew me to them and once I read the blurbs I was drawn in even farther. So I tried winning one of her books and when that didn't pan out I decided to email Dani, I wanted to read and review her books so bad. Talking to Dani is such a pleasure and right away she agreed to let me review for her. I received in the mail an autographed copy of Changeling Dawn, along with all the covers for the three books and postcards for her books as well. Oh what a happy day that was, they are even more beautiful up close. I started reading and just could not put this book down, it only took me 2 days to read it. I am so happy I found Dani Harper, not only are her books amazing, but so is she. Dani is such a lovely lady to speak with, so nice, so kind and I just really enjoyed talking with her and once I found out that her love of Paranormal Romance started with one of my favorite Authors Christine Feehan I was just amazed, I don't often hear people talking about her so that was just awesome to share that common favorite author. This is a series but it doesn't matter which book you start with they can be read as stand alone's, I started with Changeling Dawn. As the MacLeod family is introduced, Kenzie is the youngest, an Archaeologist and Anthropologist and Kenzie is used to working alone, she likes to work alone, but her family starts giving her a hard time about her love life and being alone so much. While on her way to her new dig site, Kenzie stops to help a guy with a blown tire on the side of the road. Josh, oh I like Josh, doesn't take no for an answer, strong, handsome...nope just pure sexy, now Josh is not a Changeling but he can tell who is one, Josh gets that talent from his own Native people, his spark with Kenzie is one he just can't seem to resist. Neither Josh nor Kenzie were looking for love and it was such a wonderful love story to watch bloom, to watch them both fight it. Kenzie comes to find a Changeling cub and calls in Josh to help her find and keep the little cub safe. Something terrible happened to the little cub and she refused to trust either one of them. This was such an amazing story to read, it was a different perspective of the werewolf I normally read, this story is pack full of action, a love story, family sticking together and against all odds putting themselves in the worst danger possible to say the family and others who needed rescuing. I love Dani's writing style, the story flows seamlessly, the characters built into this family you just don't want to stop reading about, their friends that are so true to the MacLeod. I had so many favorite characters in this book it's hard for me to pick just one, Anya the little cub is just a little darling you just want to cuddle her, Birkie, she is so funny but I am interested to see what exactally Birkie is, she is not a werewolf but has special gifts and talents but does not reveal what she is just yet. Josh and Kenzie, her sister and brothers, its just a cast that fits so perfect together. You just fall in love with these characters, well except the bad guys, but even the one bad girl you will like her, read the book you will see what I mean, I can't tell you or I'll ruin it. If you want a great book to read with action, a beautiful love story, a fantastic set of characters you will fall in love with, then this is the book for you to pic
So glad Kenzie found her mate, glad Anya has a family, and the rescued changelings are now a pack. Bring on #4.