Book 1 in the Heart of the Jaguar Series
USA Today bestselling author Terry Spear has captured hearts worldwide by wrapping the realities of nature into the glorious romance of the wild. Now, she turns her award-winning imagination from the sexy werewolf hunt to the intense sizzle of jaguar shape-shifters.
As a jaguar he is graceful and gorgeous...
Speedy and stealthy...
Fierce, independent, and wild...
As a man he is passionate and powerful...
Willful and wonderful...
And he'll stop at nothing to protect what's his...
Heart of the Jaguar Series:
Savage Hunger (Book 1)
Jaguar Fever (Book 2)
Jaguar Hunt (Book 3)
Jaguar Pride (Book 4)
Praise for Dreaming of the Wolf:
"Fascinating and action-packed."-RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
"Sizzling with passion, sexual tension, and page-turning suspense."-Bookloons
Praise for Wolf Fever:
"Sensual, passionate, and very well written."-Long and Short Reviews
"Terry Spear knows exactly how to extract emotions from her readers...and keep them riveted."-Love Romance Passion
About the Author
Mackenzie Cartwright was born in New York City to two artist parents and traveled the world at a young age. While in Italy, she discovered the joys of pasta and wine and has been a lifelong practitioner of the art of cooking. Mackenzie lives with her husband and their Siberian husky in New York City.
Read an Excerpt
The Amazon Rain Forest
Everything appeared perfect. Or so it seemed. In the Amazon, bliss could disintegrate into danger in the flash of a lightning strike.
After tangling with a caiman in the river as a jaguar and carrying the reptile back to the hut for his sister, Maya, to cook, Connor Anderson was half drowsing in a tree a couple of miles away, his tail swishing at flies, his eyes half-lidded as he focused on nothing much in particular. Just the way he liked it when they were on vacation here in the rain forest.
Since he had caught the caiman to eat, she had to prepare it. Often they ate as jaguars as nature intended, leaving the meat raw and without spicing it up, no fuss or muss.
But Maya was trying to talk him into searching for a shifter mate again, and this was one of the ways she presented her argument-by preparing a meal fit for a king and giving him a list of all the reasons they needed to find mates, pronto.
He had heard it all before. If a female jaguar-shifter had crossed his path, and he and she had hit it off, he would have considered the possibility of a mating. But that hadn't happened.
Maya was insistent that they try harder to find more of their kind.
He was beginning to wonder if any others existed, other than their own parents and their grandparents before them.
In the distance, the sound of a woman's laughter and sweetly spoken English words without a hint of a Spanish accent caught his attention. The dense jungle foliage muffled the voices, male laughter, and boisterous talk-all in Spanish-following the woman's light chatter. His ears twitched as he listened intently to the sound of her voice as she spoke again, a breathy sugary voice that enthralled him. But then he thought she sounded-drunk.
That notion curdled the pineapple juice in the pit of his stomach. What was she doing out here with these men? And drunk?
"Gonzales will be grateful when he learns we have her. He'll like that we grabbed her even better than the hooker we got him last week."
Connor's hackles rose. If she wasn't a hooker, what would the drug dealer want with the woman who sounded American? Ransom came to mind.
"She will be worth a lot," another said.
Yeah, he had it figured right. A hostage, kidnap victim. Probably the men had spied her in a bar flashing a lot of money around. Most likely, they'd picked her up after plying her with alcohol, taken her hostage, and planned to hide her at a temporary camp in the jungle while they decided how best to get payment for her.
In the condition she was in, she most likely didn't know she was a victim-yet. She probably didn't speak Spanish and didn't know what the men were saying, or they wouldn't have been talking so plainly in front of her.
And these men worked for Gonzales, which was bad news any way they cut it. The man was a cutthroat with fingers in every pie that screamed corruption.
Without hesitation, Connor leaped from the tree in rescue mode and raced toward the sound of their voices. They were a long way off, but his jaguar hearing picked up their conversations just the same.
But how in the world was he to rescue her? The men would be armed to the teeth, and though his teeth could take out any number of them, he would never manage if there were many men.
"Take her and tie her up," one of the men said, "before her comrades come to get her. We will have a surprise waiting for them."
Her comrades? Either more hostages for the taking, or there was bound to be a lot of bloodshed.
Connor quickened his run, careful to ensure that no one else who might be in this part of the rain forest would see him as he ran in the direction of the encampment.
The woman was quiet now. Had she sobered up and was more aware of the danger she was in? Or had she passed out or been knocked out to make her easier to control?
Torn between feeling annoyance that the woman had gotten herself into such a predicament and concern that he couldn't save her in time, he pushed his big cat muscles to the limit.
"No!" she screamed, and the pain in her voice triggered another rush of adrenaline shooting into his blood, his heart pounding furiously.
Maya would never forgive him if he got himself killed in this venture and left her all alone. But he wouldn't be able to forgive himself if he didn't try to save the woman and she died.
"No!" the woman screamed again, and the men all laughed.
"You think you have fooled us, Captain Kathleen McKnight?" one of the men said in broken English.
Connor slowed his pace. Captain? What the hell?
"You wanted to see Carlos Gonzales, sí? You will see him, señorita, and you will be the last to die. He'll want you to watch the rest of your men die first."
All hell broke loose after that. Shooting, English commands shouted through the thick foliage, Spanish curses, screams of pain. Connor paused, his tail twitching, his nose tilted up, trying to smell gunpowder. But he was too far away from the fighting, and without a hint of a breeze in the dense jungle, he smelled nothing but the richness of the rain forest.
He wasn't stupid enough to go into the middle of a firefight. As long as the Americans were part of some kind of drug raid, which was what he assumed now, and were in on this with Captain McKnight, he had no business interceding.
Yet, he couldn't move from the spot of ground where he was rooted, listening for anything further from the woman-a word, a command, another cry of pain. He couldn't leave without knowing she and the Americans were successful, and that she had departed the jungle in one piece.
"No!" the woman cried out again.
More gunfire and swearing, then silence.
As if in the jungle anything could be silent. The bugs continued their raucous singing, the frogs croaked, birds chirped, and monkeys called out. But the sound of man had ceased to exist.
Then more shots were fired, followed by screams this time and sobbing from the woman.
Hell. Connor was certain the woman wouldn't be getting out of there alive.
He ran toward what he figured had to be a temporary encampment, intending to wing his attempt at rescuing the woman without any real plan.
He had come to the Amazon on his and Maya's semiannual visit to get away and commune with their jaguar half in their native environment-not to deal with members of the damned drug cartel. He avoided them unless the drug traffickers came too close to their hut. And then he and Maya dealt with them in the way they knew best-in their jaguar forms.
Maya would have fits if she knew what he was about to do.
Captain Kathleen McKnight struggled to breathe in the hot, humid air of the Colombian Amazon rain forest. She had managed to free herself long enough to wrest a gun away from a dead drug dealer and shoot two more of them dead. But then another man rushed into the tent and shot her in the thigh.
She gritted her teeth against the pain and shot back, aiming at a more lethal spot. One bullet to the head, and he went down. Then another bang, another sharp pain. This one to the fleshy part of her arm, effectively making her drop the weapon. Damn it to hell.
She dove for a rifle. The rush of boots pounded the earth in her direction. Her fingers closed around the weapon.
But something slammed into the back of her head. A sharp, blinding pain shrieked through her skull. She fell forward and landed on her hands, thinking for a flash of a second that she was a dead woman before a black void swallowed her whole.
When she came to minutes later, Kathleen hurt everywhere-her arm, her leg, her head. Her hands were tied with rope and bound to a metal pole that was holding up the top of the canvas tent. The stench of blood surrounded her as her five Army teammates lay on the dirt floor, limbs twisted, clothes bloodied, all dead. Carlos Gonzales would keep her for last-the Trojan horse that had brought the enemy to his camp. From everything she'd read about the drug lord, she knew he would not kill her quickly.
But he must have left the camp after she saw him running for cover, or she was certain he would be standing over her, gloating over killing her team members while she was at his mercy.
The mission to take down the bastard was a bust. It was too late for the others in her team. Too late for her.
Her thigh and arm burned where the bullets had bitten into them. Yet her skin chilled. She twisted her hands to free herself from the ropes binding her. Blinding pain shot through her leg, arm, and head. Her vision blurred with the blood loss and from the excruciating pain, and she knew if she didn't stop the bleeding, she wouldn't make it. Three of Gonzales's men remained in the tent with her, guarding her. One smiled with half-rotted teeth, clearly amused at her futile attempt to free herself.
A shower of bullets popped again and again in the Amazon jungle, farther from the drug warlord's compound. Rat-ta-tat-tat. Men swore in Spanish, some screaming in pain, others shouting orders.
Her heart raced with renewed hope. A rescue attempt? For her? Well, for the team, but no one else was alive and whoever it was probably didn't know that. But... who were they?
"Captain McKnight?" someone shouted from somewhere far away, like he was on the other side of the planet.
"Here!" she croaked, her throat parched and hoarse.
Callahan? She thought. But the major hadn't been on this mission. He had been responsible for it, but she thought he had stayed behind the scenes.
Then silence. Callahan?
No one approached the tent, and the three men guarding her exited to see what was happening. "Jaguar!" one of the men shouted, terror in his voice.
Jaguar? No feral cat with any sense would come here in the middle of a shoot-out. Maybe she hadn't heard the man right.
She twisted to free her wrists from the rope. Not making any progress, she stretched out her uninjured leg so that the toe of her hiking boot could hook onto the hilt of a sheathed dagger of the dead man lying closest to her.
Weapons fired. She stopped and stared in the direction of the tent flap. Outside, screams and curses ensued. Fierce growling mixed with the men's terrified voices. Then silence.
Kathleen envisioned a vicious jaguar bounding into the tent and finishing her off, too. She struggled again to free herself. Then she heard movement outside, not sure what was happening.
With her skin perspiring and her wounds bleeding, the only thing keeping her conscious was the pain and the fear of what was coming next.
Footfalls hurried toward the tent. Kathleen braced for whoever it was-one of her captors or a rescuer-praying he was her rescuer.
His chest and feet bare, a man wearing a pair of jungle-green camouflage pants and carrying an assault rifle at the ready stopped in the entryway and stared at her, his mouth grim. His hair was short and blond but not cut in the military style. His face was angular and handsome, his torso bronzed and well sculpted. He didn't look like he could be one of Gonzales's men, yet he wasn't one of her men, either. His hair was too shaggy, and his face sported a shadow of blond stubble.
Even the pants he was wearing didn't fit. The waistband was slung low on his lean hips, the pant legs too short for his long legs, as though he had borrowed them in a hurry from a much shorter man. His gaze searched the tent, ensuring no one was a threat, then again fastened on hers, and for an instant his eyes reminded her of the golden eyes of a feral beast.
The female captain's eyes shut and Connor raced across the tent. He grabbed a knife from one of Gonzales's dead soldiers and cut a much cleaner shirt off a dead American soldier. Then Connor sliced through the rope tied around the captain's wrists. He quickly worked to bind her wounds to stem the bleeding. Her blue eyes opened briefly, but she was drifting off, her gaze attempting to focus on him, her lips parted as if to speak. He could tell she was having a devil of a time staying conscious.
Despite everything, she smelled like a bit of fairy heaven, a sweet flowery fragrance that forced him to take another deep breath, despite his attempt at staying neutral. Her sensual feminine smell assaulted his senses, irritating him at being cursed with his jaguar senses at this particular moment. His pheromones kicked up a notch, triggered by the firestorm of sensations he was experiencing.
"Stay awake," he ordered, trying to concentrate on keeping her alive until help could come for her and struggling to get his focus back on what was important and off his own primitive jaguar need to find a mate and procreate.
"American," she whispered, her eyes heavily lidded. She closed them.
He snapped, "Captain, stay... awake!"
"Easy for you to say," she said, sounding waspish, but as weak as she was, she didn't have the bite to her words.
He smiled darkly and continued to bind her wounds.
"Who are you? What... ah," she grimaced, reaching out to touch him, "are you doing here?"
"Connor Anderson's the name, and I'm vacationing in the area. Save your strength." As soon as he said his last name, he wondered why he had given her that much information.
"I'm... trying... to... stay... awake," she growled, but again the softly irritated tone didn't have the effect he imagined she was going for.
"Where is your rendezvous point?"
If he could take her to where her men would pick up the Army team, she might have a chance. The sound of men crashing through the trees made Connor rise quickly, grab a rifle, and slip out the back of the tent, intending to ambush Gonzales's men before they knew what had hit them.
"Connor," the captain whispered, and it killed him to have to leave her behind, even for just the moment.
But he couldn't protect her if armed men greatly outnumbered him. Hidden in the thick vegetation, Connor saw U.S. Army men scouring the campsite, and he assumed they were coming to rescue the captain. He tossed the rifle and borrowed camouflaged pants and shifted, then waited in the mesh of trees until he heard one of the men speaking: "Hell, Kathleen."
The woman's rescue was now out of Connor's hands. So why the hell wasn't he relieved?
What People are Saying About This
"Beautiful and magical" - The World of Jesse Kimmel-Freeman
"You will feel the humidity against your skin, smell the lush vegetation, and hear the howler monkeys in the trees. She transports you to the predatory, magical, tropical world of jaguar-shifters." - Paranormal Romance with Lisa Annesley
"An action packed page turner." - Urban Girl Reader
"Everything you could want in a paranormal romance is in here, fast paced action, explosive romance and well developed characters that you will easily grow to love" - A Bookworm's Haven
"A sexy, action-packed paranormal romance that is sure to captivate you from the very beginning." - Romance Junkies
"Spear tells the story in such a way you come to believe in the ability while immersed in the characters' lives. She makes the impossible seem real and natural while keeping you in suspense." - Thoughts in Progress
"Terry Spear takes her readers on a wild ride through the Amazon... " - Joyfully Reviewed
"Wow, [Spear's] writing voice is beautiful and [she] is a wonderful storyteller. " - Wickedly Delicious Book Blog