Shapeshifter Jude Black, level six operative for the Therian Senate and their deadliest weapon, has served his superiors for ten years without question. He was raised to believe his job is one of the highest, most honorable occupations in the realm. Killing is what he does, and having each mission wiped from his memory is a non-issue . . . until his brother Garrett goes missing.
When it appears that the Senate’s only concern is to make him forget the whereabouts of his only brother, Jude begins to question his loyalties. Then he meets the beautiful, hazel-eyed Letitia Hawkes, and his loyalty is put to the ultimate test. She is a werewolf, one of his race’s sworn enemies. But she’s being used by Eideroche Medical, the same people who made his brother disappear.
Jude’s convinced Letitia is the key to the answers he desperately needs to find his brother. At least that’s what he tells himself as he teams up with her to find out just what Eideroche is up to. But soon, Jude finds himself in the deadliest battle of his life. Because he’s falling in love with Letitia. But by doing so, he might just be guaranteeing her death . . .
“. . . a steamy, action-filled adventure that will have you running alongside the characters.” Happily Ever After blog, USA Today
“The romance was dripping with sexual tension . . . ”Caffeinated Book Reviewer
“There is plenty of suspense, intrigue, and deep, dark secrets . . .”The Reading Café
Lina Gardiner, award-winning author of the Jess Vandermire, Vampire Hunter series, has writing in her blood. Her books have been well received by such reviewers as Kirkus Reviews and USA Today’s HEA blog, including a 4.5-star rating from RT Book Reviews and a nomination for a Romantic Times Reader’s Choice Award.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.56(d)|
Read an Excerpt
AT THE FIRST sign of movement, Jude Black held his clenched fist at shoulder height in a military command to halt. He only had one team member with him. A rube, or in human terms a trainee, named Perry. In Jude's opinion the kid was too green to be sent on a real mission, but he had his orders. Jude gritted his teeth, hunkered down behind a rectangular planter and watched the humans at the back of the lobby of the medical building. He prayed the kid didn't freak out and give their position away.
As in any operation, if they were spotted on cameras, their hand signals would make the security team believe they were human military. Jude had taken on the identity of a CIA operative as his cover. That gave him some impunity, as long as it wasn't the CIA who snagged him. Not likely to happen here. The men he currently had under surveillance looked more like underworld thugs. Another indication that things weren't right at Eideroche Medical.
Jude's government had received intel that this medical facility had access to information they shouldn't have. It was his job to find out what that might be. If anyone in this facility knew about his people they were in for a world of hurt. Therians guarded their secrecy with deadly consequences. And, because humans no longer accepted or believed in what they considered mythological abilities, Therians wouldn't allow themselves to be exposed. Exposure could mean all out war — because most humans wouldn't accept a race more powerful than themselves.
So far Jude's people had managed to remain hidden after their downfall in Egypt when mankind believed them to be gods. They'd come to North America to start over, although, to Jude, it seemed more like hiding. And they were still hiding. That left a bitter taste.
The kid's foot slipped and made a squeaking noise on the floor. Jude glared at him and he turned even more pale. Hell! He should've said there was no way he'd take Perry along with him, magistrate's nephew or not. Not even on a supposed simple fact finding mission like this one. Training, his ass. Jude was an operative, not a trainer.
Worse, Perry looked as if he would puke. If he didn't calm down soon, they'd both be in deep trouble.
What had gone wrong? Jude had monitored the Eideroche Medical Research Company every night for weeks. And every night the routine had been the same, until tonight. The security guard should be on his rounds right now, with no one else in this part of the building.
Yet, still crouching near the entrance, Jude watched two men carry a woman's body toward the elevators at the back of the lobby. For about ten seconds he thought she might actually be dead — until he saw her fingers move.
Even from his vantage point she captured his attention. Eye candy to a guy who'd been without female companionship for as long as he had. It went against his code to admire her well-toned, curvaceous body. To notice her full lips, or the dark charcoal eyelashes that swept over her high cheekbones.
Hell, right now she was vulnerable. And in a shitload of trouble.
Gritting his teeth against the leg cramp that threatened his thigh, he adjusted his position behind the planter. Thick fronds gave them partial cover, but not if either of them moved.
He looked at the woman again. As much as he hated to admit it, he had a serious soft spot for vulnerable. That's what his brother Garrett used to tell him whenever he'd tried to rescue stray dogs or cats. People in his society didn't make pets of animals. Nor did they have soft spots. Not for animals. Not for kids. Definitely not for women. And it was a major pain in the ass in his line of work.
"This job is going to crap, kid," he whispered to Perry. "So much for the speedy in and out that your uncle promised."
"Can we get out of here now?" Perry returned in a whisper.
"As soon as it's safe. We can't do anything until the coast is clear."
Shit! If he didn't have to baby-sit, this would be a perfect time to find out how this human facility was being used. And to find out what they were going to do to that woman. Since she was unconscious, it was damned obvious she was being taken against her will.
Jude reached over to put a hand on Perry's shoulder, but the kid swallowed and cringed away. No way could he leave the kid alone right now. He'd probably panic. Jude would have to get him out of here before he could even consider coming back.
The elevator doors closed with a ding, and the room went silent again. He watched the numbers illuminate as the elevator went up. It stopped at three.
"Time to leave." With the coast clear, Jude rose. From out of nowhere, a fist the size of a boulder connected with Jude's mouth. It knocked him backward and smashed him against the plate glass window behind him.
Shit, that smarted!
The glass splintered into a mosaic of tiny fractals and bowed outward but didn't let go. Thank the gods for safety glass.
And, to make matters worse, the goon who'd hit him had disappeared as fast as he'd appeared. Coward!
Leaning forward, Jude spat a mouthful of blood onto the floor. The punch had loosened his tooth and split his lip.
Only a minute ago, the guard, all muscles, square jaw and teeth, had stood right in front of him with a satisfied smile after he'd knocked Jude's tooth loose. Now he was gone.
But to where?
Zing! A blast of light shot over Jude's left shoulder and slammed into the wall. The discharge had been so close Jude had felt the energy and the movement of air as it whizzed past.
While ceramic tile exploded into a dust cloud of debris, he made for the only real cover in the room — the security desk. He also wanted to draw fire away from Perry.
Another quick look for the guard. What the hell? The guy was gone again. How could he have gotten away that fast?
"Show your ugly face and quit running away, you big hippo!" he yelled.
Cursing under his breath, he scanned the room for his attacker. Still couldn't see him, and insults didn't bring him raging back, either. The guard had a definite advantage.
Time to get Perry out of here.
Jude skidded across the marble floor. With any luck, the guard wouldn't choose this moment to reappear. His throat squeezed shut at the sight of the empty spot behind the planter where Perry should be. Just eff'n great!
Or maybe not so bad. But only if Perry had left through the tiny hole they'd made in the window. Somehow he didn't think so. The hole had warped and stretched when the glass cracked, and it was barely there, now. So, where was the kid? "Perry!" No reply. He cursed again. What if the security guard had him? How in the world would he get Perry back when the guard kept disappearing? This job should have been like a kindergarten class for a newbie agent like Perry.
Hold it together, Black. He planted his hands on his hips and took another look around the room. The kid's got to be here. He would have kicked up a ruckus if he'd been grabbed.
He looked at the reception desk again. It stood waist height, in a half circle, topped with screens and phones. Deep enough to give cover. Maybe the kid had managed to get under it.
Rounding the corner of the desk, he let out a breath. Perry had wedged himself into the corner. "Kid! Why didn't you transform and get out of here at the first sign of trouble?" "You told me to take cover if anything happened. Besides, I couldn't shift. Something is holding me like this," he said.
Now that he mentioned it, Jude felt strange too, as if his particles were being held in check. "Yeah, I know what you mean, but that shouldn't be possible in a human facility. Keep trying, and when you can, get the hell out of here."
Sweat broke out on his trainee's face and he squeezed his eyes shut. Seconds later, his eyes flew open again. "I still can't."
Jude bit his lip and looked over his shoulder. No telling where the guard would turn up next. "I guess that explains how the security guard appeared out of nowhere a few minutes ago. This facility isn't running on a completely human scale. They've got some nonhuman weapons in use."
"Is that possible, sir?"
"A few minutes ago I would have told you not a chance in hell, but it seems I would have been wrong." Only an idiot would believe this mission was a simple in and out. Surely the Undergovernment had some intel on this place before they'd sent him here. But, if so, why hadn't they told him to expect something other than a human facility?
Thumb under his loose tooth, he shoved up until it crunched. Damn thing felt as if it was going to pop out. Why wasn't it healing the way it should?
Suddenly, a sound, like a whisper of silk, struck a chord in his memory. He'd heard that same silky slide just before the guard had appeared the first time.
Jerking his head in the direction of the sound, a rip in space opened and the guard stepped through.
Surely this wasn't human technology! This was even more advanced than anything his own people had devised, and they were the most advanced race on the planet.
The guard hunched his shoulders and flexed his massive frame. While his attention narrowed in on Jude, he pulled an unusual looking gun out of a holster on his hip. The same weapon that had pulverized the tiles moments before, no doubt. Jude could still taste the dust.
Without the ability to shift he'd be at a slight disadvantage. But humans stood little chance in an altercation with a Therian, even with a gun.
Mirroring the guard's body language, Jude assumed a defensive stance. The guard was about to find out that being musclebound had its downside. Jude's lithe, compact strength would put the man's over-pumped, just-for-show body to shame in a fight.
"Stay there," Jude said, with a quick glance at Perry. No worries. The kid didn't look as if he had any intention of budging.
Before the guard even knew what had happened, Jude sprang into the air and kicked him under the chin twice.
The man's droopy eyes opened wide, then squeezed shut while the impact of the kick vibrated up his jawbone and rattled those hippo teeth.
"That's for my tooth and for thinking you have the advantage." Next, Jude punched the big guy in the gut hard enough for him to want to woof his cookies.
The guard bent over and dropped to his knees. He'd be out of the way for at least a couple of minutes.
Good chance to snatch that weapon he'd never seen before. A bonus. Maybe that was why he had been sent here.
He shoved the gun into his back pocket and waved Perry out from under the desk. "Let's make tracks."
He wasn't surprised when Perry didn't move. He'd seen newbies react like this before. Jude bent over, grabbed his foot and physically hauled him out. He didn't blame the kid. Especially since he'd had no official training for this kind of thing.
"Looks like we need to do a little more research before we break into this building again, doesn't it kid?" He forced a little humor into his voice in an effort to lessen the kid's disabling fear. "Let's go."
Perry stumbled along beside Jude. He didn't have much choice since Jude had grabbed his shirt collar and was urging him along, as if he were a truant child.
"I thought humans were the easiest to fight?" Perry whimpered.
"Not now, Perry. We need to get you out of here." Neither of them could shift into a small enough size, even if the eight inch escape hole they'd made in the plate glass window hadn't narrowed to a mere slit. Jude whipped out the weapon he'd stolen from the security guard and shot out the window to create another escape route.
The safety glass shattered, then instantly melted from the heat. Glass lay like newly formed ice on the pavement. He whistled and took a second look at the weapon in his hand. Glancing back and seeing the guard getting to his feet, Jude managed to tuck the gun safely into his waistband. He'd take a good look at this baby later.
"Move it! Or this could get ugly," Jude said, a little irritated by the kid's inability to move fast enough.
Finally, Perry started to run. Jude felt relieved until they reached the melted glass. "Watch your step, Perry," he said. "It looks as slippery as ..." Instantly, Perry's feet flew out from under him. Since Jude still had a death grip on the kid's collar he went down too, damn it.
His elbows slammed into the pavement seconds before his head snapped back and made contact with the sidewalk. Blistering fireworks exploded then fizzled behind his eyes. Pushing past the fact that his head felt like a cracked egg, he forced himself to his feet. No time to wallow in pain. He had to get the kid out of here.
Shouting started inside the building, and the security guard bellowed, "An aberrant has my Laser Repeater. Turn on the perimeter security."
Jude pursed his lips. Aberrant! He hated that prejudiced term. And — Laser Repeater? That's what he'd grabbed from the guy? Geez! He'd never seen anything like it before. Proof that they were up to something other than medical research in this facility.
Suddenly, the air crackled and sparked around the building. Jude yanked back on the kid's arm just as he was about to step into the innocent looking light. When they'd said perimeter security, he hadn't expected this! "Hold up, Perry."
A blue halo of electric current pulsed around the building. Unfortunately, they were still on the inside of the not-so-innocent blue light. At least not innocent to Therians.
This night just got worse and worse.
If it were possible to kick his own ass, he'd do it right now. He'd really bungled this job and good. These humans had shit-kicking weapons, and even worse they had an anti-Therian security arc. "Which means," he said, more to himself than to Perry, "they must've known we were coming. Kid, this is gonna hurt. But the faster you get through this stuff, the better." He grunted and threw Perry, screaming, through the blue haze. Jude dove through next. It burned like hellfire, and his flesh sizzled until he came out on the other side next to Perry, both of them worse for wear. Especially Perry.
"Talk about indoctrination by fire," he joked, trying to keep Perry's spirits up as they made for the parking lot. Of course, the kid was burned worse than Jude; he had no immunity against Therian security perimeters. It took decades of breaching them before a Therian could go through unscathed. He actually felt sorry for the kid as he remembered how much more that damned blue haze hurt inexperienced flesh.
"Look on the bright side. You've just increased your knowledge over your fellow trainees by one hundred percent," he told the kid. "With this kind of experience under your belt, you'll have no problem getting accepted into the program."
The kid didn't look the least bit thrilled by the news, and Jude's instinct was to tell Perry to walk away from this job as fast as he could. But those were anti-Undergovernment words. Words that could be very unhealthy, if the wrong person got wind of them — or if anyone ever found out he'd spoken them.
So he kept his mouth shut. Still, his gut twisted.
Perry rolled pitiful eyes toward him, but he gritted his teeth and struggled to hurry to the small SUV. "How long will the burns last, sir?" His voice had gone gravelly because his lungs had been singed. Apparently he hadn't known not to scream inside the haze.
Even though Perry's uncle had sent him on this job, Jude felt personally responsible for the kid's condition. That kind of pain stayed with a man. Jude had screamed the first time he went through a barrier, too. His lungs had been raw for a week.
He'd been through plenty during his years as an agent for the Undergovernment, and he'd experienced plenty of pain. He'd worked his ass off to make himself important in his field. And now, as a seasoned agent and one of the Undergovernment's top operatives, whenever things went south, he was the first person they called to get whatever FUBAR operation back into shape. Is that why he'd been sent here tonight? If the Senate knew this wasn't a solely human facility, why the shit would they send the kid along?
He cast a quick glance at Perry. Had to give him credit. He made it to the vehicle under his own power — that took strength of will and character — and he nearly managed to muffle the groan when he crawled into the SUV.
"Let's get out of here." Jude jammed his foot on the pedal and spun the tires as they sped away. All hell was breaking loose behind them, and he didn't intend to be within ten miles of the place when it did.
Excerpted from "Black Moon Awakening"
Copyright © 2012 Lina Gardiner.
Excerpted by permission of BelleBooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Black Moon Awakening quickly captured my attention from the first page and held it to the last. Sworn enemies work together to protect their races, humankind and stop a twisted plot for supremacy. This tales was action packed, with a romance that left me wanting more.. The tale begins when we meet shapeshifter Jude Black. Black is a level six operative for the Therian Senate. He is sent to investigate Eideroche Medical center along with the senator’s rookie son.. They see a young woman carried into the center in the dead of the night. Black makes the decision to save her and the rookie is badly burned in the process. He quickly realizes that the beautiful, Letitia Hawkes, is a werewolf and sworn enemy of his race. Something major is going on at Eideroche Medical center and it involves Letitia. Before Black can put the pieces together all hell breaks loose and he finds himself and Letitia in danger. The tale that unfolds is suspenseful, romantic and at times hilarious. I loved watching these two interact and found myself giggling, swooning and all out laughing at some of the scenes. What a fun ride! The characters in Gardiner’s novel immediately captured my attention. Jude Black reeks of smexy. He is the Therian’s top agent and has served them loyally for ten years. Ever since his brother Garrett went missing he has been questioning his life and the Senate. I liked this handsome, loyal, strong, and noble shapeshifter. Letitia Hawkes in Black’s opinion is beautiful. She is tall, graceful and fearless. This downright terrifies him. Despite knowing this werewolf is more than capable, he finds himself being overly protective. I loved watching these two sworn enemies interact. The attraction they feel for each other and seeing them build trust was both hilarious and sweet. Gardiner provided purely evil characters for me to loathe. The leader at Eideroche Medical is one sick and twisted creature. He flat out made my blood run cold. Traitors within both races made the tale interesting and my emotions run high. I love it when a book makes you want to jump in and kick some butt. The world building, plot, and flow are splendid. Gardiner weaves suspense, mythology and a dark secret into the plot that kept me enthralled. The dynamics and history of the Therian’s was fascinating and the way they handles operatives was unique. I quickly connected with the characters and found them to be well developed. The romance was dripping with sexual tension and I enjoyed watching it unfold. The pace was heart racing and I quickly consumed this. Gardiner has set the stage for what appears to be an exciting new series and I look forward to learning more. I want to thank the author and ImaJinn Books for providing this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.
I’ve put off writing a review for Lina Gardiner’s, Black Moon Awakening, for several days because I’m not sure I can do the book justice. Gardiner’s story is so intriguing and multi-layered, it was an absolute delight to read. First up, you have the romance. Jude Black and Letitia Hawkes are from two different societies that oppose each other. They risk their lives by falling in love. And it turns out, they’re not all that compatible physically in the beginning. That’s another thing to note, the author’s gentle humor. Poor Jude, she really makes him sweat at times! But then, there’s this wonderful suspense story running side by side with the romance. Super-agent Jude Black can’t find his brother and believes Letitia’s is the key to locating him. There’s a truly evil antagonist, who makes a bid for power, bringing the forces of good and evil into play. It’s all great fun and very stressful at times. But what is truly remarkable is Gardiner’s talent at world building. I can get lost in her worlds, they seem so real to me. She weaves mythology into her post-modern worlds, anchoring them in history. If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m a fan of Lina Gardiner’s books. Her stories just keep getting better and better, and Black Moon Awakening is the best yet.