They live in the shadows—half human, half beast—a powerful breed of shape-shifters who protect the civilized world from the deadliest of their kind…
Caprise is tall, beautiful, exotic. A goddess in the flesh. A dancer, when Caprise takes the stage, she feels the power she holds over men—especially the man known as X. He watches her night after night. He follows her with hungry eyes. And he knows her deepest, darkest secret—her true animal nature…
And falling in love with a Shadow Shifter is the most dangerous game of all.
Xavier has always lived for the thrill of the hunt—and the pleasure of the kill. But now, as a shifter working for the FBI, he is dedicated to keeping a leash on the world's most savage predators. Keeping an eye on a gorgeous creature like Caprise is part of his job. But when a deadly new breed of half-human killer marks Caprise as his mate, Xavier must fight tooth and claw to save her—or risk losing the most sensual and exciting woman he's ever known…
About the Author
A.C. Arthur was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland where she currently lives with her husband and three children. An active imagination and a love for reading encouraged her to begin writing in high school and she hasn't stopped since. Her debut novel Object of His Desire was written when a picture of an Italian villa sparked the idea of an African-American/Italian hero. Determined to bring a new edge to romance, she continues to develop intriguing plots, sensual love scenes, racy characters, and fresh dialogue—thus keeping the readers on their toes!
A.C. Arthur was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland where she currently lives with her husband and three children. An active imagination and a love for reading encouraged her to begin writing in high school and she hasn’t stopped since. Her debut novel Object of His Desire was written when a picture of an Italian villa sparked the idea of an African-American/Italian hero. Determined to bring a new edge to romance, she continues to develop intriguing plots, sensual love scenes, racy characters, and fresh dialogue—thus keeping the readers on their toes!
Read an Excerpt
By A.C. Arthur
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2013 A.C. Arthur
All rights reserved.
His mouth opened wide, the scream buried somewhere deep inside him. But it was there. Years later the scream would manifest into a roar that matched the deadliest animal in the rain forest. That made him powerful, stronger and deadlier than his tormentor. It gave him control. And with that control the pain of abuse was buried, the pleasure of the kill was born.
Xavier Santos-Markland stood naked, palms pressed against the Indian-stone-tiled wall of his shower, while water drizzled down over his bowed head. He let its simmering heat ease the tension that seemed forever embedded in his muscles. His teeth clenched as memories poured off him just like the stream of water, his mind forever occupied by the dark clips of his past.
It hurt. That was the first and most prevalent memory. The pain, both inside and out, of that very first time, the first day of his nightmare.
And it was unnatural. Another fact he realized instantly. He'd cried out, his scream loud to his little-boy ears, almost earth-shattering. But no one came to his rescue. Nobody heard him.
He was too small to fight, too weak to do any real damage or even to defend himself. As time passed, the pain increased, lodging itself like a tumor in his chest, growing steadily with each assault. He craved revenge, even then. Not just revenge, but justice. The boy in him hated every breath he took, every sunrise he saw, every morning he rose again. Because they all meant it would happen again. There was no one to stop it, no one who knew.
Then one of those mornings years later, he woke to a change. To his own ears his heartbeat sounded different; his blood pumped a little faster in his veins. His undershirts didn't fit, his pants were too tight on his thighs. In school when he talked, his voice sounded different, deeper. And when it was time for the pain to come again, he was ready.
It happened so fast: In the blink of an eye the tables were turned. The tormentor became the victim, the inflictor became the inflicted.
The rage was released with teeth so long and so sharp, claws so vicious, roars so powerful. Blood rained from all around, its acidic stench filling his nostrils, rushing through his system like a tsunami. Death became the answer to the pain. And he became the killer.
* * *
X had the perfect view.
Tits and ass — T&A — were bountiful in Athena's, one of Washington, DC's, premier adult nightclubs. When he'd walked in, the two bouncers standing on either side of the doorway had looked him up and down. They even frisked him to make sure he wasn't carrying a weapon. Little did they know he didn't need one — he was a weapon. A hostess, which X thought was a nice touch for the establishment, walked him to his seat. Five feet, ten inches tall, tiny waist, thick thighs, rounded ass, and breasts that made his mouth water — just what the doctor ordered for his state of mind.
Which he'd rank close to being fucked completely up.
He'd consumed an entire bottle of Hennessy while sitting alone in his apartment. But because he was a Shadow Shifter, he wasn't falling-on-his-face drunk. Instead he was mellow to the point of wanting to pull this physically perfect female onto his lap and give her every pent-up stroke his dick had stored for the last few months. He was in that place that he lingered in sometimes after the dream. The lonely dark space that threatened to suck him in if he didn't get ahold of something tangible, something that could handle all that was locked inside him.
X slid into the booth directly to the right side of the stage and watched as the hostess placed a slim drink list and a napkin in front of him, leaning forward so her ample breasts jiggled in his face.
She had a ready smile, thin lips, and eyes that looked like she was used to having sex — normal sex. That definitely was not what X had in mind. Not tonight.
No, after the day he'd had he wanted — was at the point now where he desperately needed — something more.
So he ordered another Hennessy, straight, and sat back in the booth, waiting for the next act to hit the stage. He watched with one hand on his thigh, close to his semi-erect dick, all the T&A on display, because as far as appetizers went, Athena's was doing a pretty damn good job.
The lights dimmed, and members of the audience began cheering. The next act was about to begin. There came a flurry of lights dancing around the room in slow motion as the first notes of a sultry tune began to play. The spotlight stopped on the pole, shined to perfection. The crowd went wild, jumping up out of their seats already. X remained perfectly still.
He'd picked up a scent.
Her leg appeared first, a strappy silver number with heels that looked too high to be legal. X's gaze followed her calves down to her toned thighs as she'd kicked her leg out to line up with the pole. He shifted in his seat, adjusting his growing length.
The spotlight spread wider, the music's sexy slow rhythm pulsing throughout the room. Her thighs were killer, the plump globe of her ass only slightly covered in silver sparkling boy shorts as she jumped onto the pole and made a twisting move that put her entire body upside down, her legs splitting in midair. The crowd roared, but X tuned out their sounds. Dollar bills were already flying through the air, but X didn't reach into his pocket to retrieve any of his own. Instead his eyes stayed trained on the body. She had a milky, heavily creamed–coffee complexion, the hoop ring threading through her navel sparkling as if in response to the crowd. He had no idea what the material was that was able to hold her heavy breasts inside the bra that matched her shorts, but the plump mounds gyrated with her movement, giving everyone a view of what could possibly be her most prized possessions.
His breath froze, his gut clenching when his gaze fixed on her face. She'd just turned so that she was upright; long, ebony hair slid down her back like a cloak. And even though her makeup was plentiful, making her look like an exotic temptation, there was no mistaking who she was.
His fists clenched on his thighs as his dick threatened to break free of the zipper that held it back. Questions filled his mind, but Caprise alone filled his sight. He couldn't look away, couldn't move to grab her ass off that stage, and couldn't open his mouth — now salivating with lust — to yell at her.
Once again she bounced on the pole, this time extending her legs forward, then opening them so her crotch was displayed — luckily covered by the shorts, he thought with only minor relief. That was short-lived. In the next second she was off the pole, ripping the shorts from her ass to reveal a tiny string with more sparkles disappearing into the curvy cheeks of her ass.
A man tried to jump onto the stage, money in hand. His mouth was hanging open, eyes all but bulging out. X felt his cat roar and slapped a hand on the table in front of him. A bouncer grabbed the man by the collar and yanked him back, dropping him into his seat. X let out a quick sigh. When his gaze returned to the stage her bra had been removed to reveal pasties on her nipples, more sparkling, as if that were what he was supposed to look at. She was basically naked, he thought, swallowing hard in an effort to regain his senses. When her hands grabbed her breasts and she leaned over shaking them to the crowd, X's sharp teeth pricked his lower lip. He wanted her. The thought hit him like a punch to the gut. She licked her finger, traced it along the small patch of material at her juncture, and X had to drag a hand down his face.
The rest of the show was lost on him as he'd stood and made his way to the side of the stage. There was a bouncer there giving him the don't-even-try-it look. On impulse, X flashed his FBI badge and the bouncer, intelligent character that he was, took a step back. Vaguely he realized her music had ended. He was more focused on the fact that she was sashaying her naked ass off the stage. Because the bouncer had taken a hike, X was able to slip through the STAFF ONLY door and was right there the moment Caprise stepped those sex-on-stilts shoes of hers on the floor.
He grabbed her by the arm. "Don't say a word," he warned when she looked up at him in surprise. "Not one fuckin' word!"CHAPTER 2
This was not the career Caprise Delgado had in mind for herself. Truth be told, she'd never given a whole lot of thought to what her career goals and aspirations were. Hence the reason she was buckling the strap on her five-inch-heeled Manolo Blahnik sandals in a costume that looked like it was meant more for the hotel room than the stage. There was a contrast here, one Caprise hoped nobody picked up on. Why would a woman who could afford Blahnik shoes be on a stripper pole?
None of your damn business would be her definite reply.
This was her life and she was going to lead it however she damn well pleased. Even if it meant running from the truth.
For Caprise, complaining had been deemed futile a long time ago. For one reason: There was no one for her to complain to. Her parents were dead, and until last month she hadn't seen her brother in five years. Friends weren't on her list of priorities; generally, any type of long-term connection to people was off limits to her. Why? Because pain was an emotion she was too damn familiar with.
She had a trust fund that she'd come into the day she turned twenty-one. Ten million was hers to do with as she pleased. This meant she didn't have to really do anything. But her parents had worked, both of them. Her father had been an architect, her mother a registered nurse. Her older brother, Nick, even though he'd come into his own trust fund when he turned twenty-one, also had a law degree and ran a very successful law firm with his partner and best friend, Roman Reynolds. Just because the Delgados had money didn't mean they were pampered. And it hadn't escaped her that an architect and a registered nurse were actually millionaires. Just one of those questions regarding her family she'd refused to scrutinize.
"Ten minutes, Cee." Yandy Linch, the night floor manager, opened the door to the dressing room she shared with two other girls, said what she had to say, then closed the door again with a bang.
That's how things went at Athena's, hustle and flow, dance and make money. It wasn't the best place in the world to work, but it gave her the chance to do something she'd always loved to do, dance. It had been one of those hidden indulgences, started when her mother had enrolled her in ballet at the age of seven. From there her love of the solitary art had grown, until now she was willing to put on this ridiculous costume and take it back off again, just for the release of dancing.
She'd auditioned for the Dance Institute of Washington when she'd finished college, and had been accepted. Then her parents had died, and her perspective had shifted. Just recently she'd gone back to the institute to see if there were any teaching or intern positions she could take — anything that would keep her in touch with what was once very important to her. In the meantime, she'd slake her need, her one true love, by doing this.
It wasn't all bad, she'd told herself when she'd checked the mirror one last time and left the dressing room. Here at Athena's they loved the Goddess — that was her stage name. Patrons began lining up at the club at nine just to see her eleven-thirty show. She only did one show four nights a week; that's all she'd committed to once she'd come back to town. The owner of the club, Bam Milton, had known her for years. Actually, he'd been one of the only constants in her life so far. But Caprise wouldn't call them friends — more like associates who bumped into each other a lot.
As she walked gracefully on the heels, clicking through the small hallway that led to the stage, she thought about her brother and what he'd think if he knew what she was doing. He'd flip the hell out without a doubt. Then again, Nick was famous for flipping out all the time anyway. Just recently he'd lost it over his female being kidnapped.
That had been wild — these last few weeks, that is. How Caprise had been drawn into the world of the Shadow Shifters once more she had no idea. She'd never owned up to being a shifter, never wanted to and didn't want to now. Yet she was stuck with Seth, the cute and generally nice shifter guard who clung to her like glue and was right at this moment probably lurking around some corner in the club. She was living at Havenway, the new headquarters for Rome, the head of the Stateside Assembly, and his First Female, Kalina. Caprise was not only drawn into their world, she was smack in the middle of it.
Still, to be honest, she didn't hate it all that much. She got to see Nick almost every day. And she was getting to know her sister-in-law, Ary, who would be giving birth to her niece or nephew in the next few months. So there was some benefit to that hulking goof of an FBI agent and Shadow Shifter, Xavier, keeping her locked in that room at Rome's mansion all those weeks ago. He really irked her, X did. Each time she saw him, each time he opened his mouth to speak to her, something inside her moved. His voice slid through her entire body like something infecting her. She couldn't quite put the feeling into words but hated it just the same. Some days she'd go so far as to say she hated Xavier Santos-Markland even if she didn't have an explainable reason why.
Her music started and Caprise closed her eyes, stepped into the world of the Goddess, the persona that was her alter ego. The woman she really wasn't, but secretly was.
As she danced, all thoughts cleared her mind; there was only the music. She always picked slow, sultry songs with piano or violin solos that pulled at the heart. Reached out and grabbed anyone listening, making them pay total attention to her and what she was giving them.
This gave her power. It made the Goddess exactly who she was. She commanded the attention of every male and female in this room; their eyes could not focus on anything or anyone but her. It was like a drug, and tonight Caprise was flying higher than a kite.
As she grasped the pole and pulled herself up, flipping effortlessly until she was upside down, she wondered fleetingly about the first man to throw money on the stage. It was too dark for her to see his face, but she knew he was there. She'd heard his panting as he'd made his way as close to the stage as he could get before tossing the bills.
Where did he work? What did he do? Was he married? Did he have children? A boy and a girl maybe? Did he fuck his wife while thoughts of her ran rampant through his mind?
That question stuck and Caprise slipped from the pole, moving her hips to the rhythm, easing her body down so that her legs were spread wide, her palms touching the floor. She leaned forward then, using her fingers to simulate a crawling motion as she stretched out on the stage. Rolling over to her back had the crowd roaring again. The music did things to her, rubbed along her like the fingers of a lover. A lover she didn't have.
With the feeling of appreciation and a gentle tug of lust pushing her forward she stood, danced around the pole for a couple more notes, then stripped away her boy shorts, letting the strangers in the dark see what she'd been blessed with. Inside she laughed: They really couldn't see her at all.
When her breasts were all but bared she could hear the crowd getting more excited. The sound of money moving through fingers grew louder. The scent of lust, need, sex, tinged her nose. Damn the senses of a shifter. In one minute she hated them. In the next they were second nature.
They loved her, the crowd out there. Even though not one of them knew her name, the day she was born, her favorite color, her most detested food. They loved her. The Goddess and the myth she created for them.
The song came to an end too soon, her body still humming with energy, with a need still unfulfilled. She picked up her cash, although she didn't need it. On her way back to Havenway she'd have Zach stop her at the local House of Ruth to make her nightly contribution.
Stepping off the stage put her into a different atmosphere. The temperature changed, and she shivered. Where was Norm with her robe? Norm was the stagehand, a young boy with glasses as thick as a beer bottle, eyes so small she almost didn't know they were there. His body looked like he suffered from malnutrition, his face the victim of a total acne attack. But his voice was soft and always layered over the Goddess like warm rain after her performance.
Excerpted from Passion's Prey by A.C. Arthur. Copyright © 2013 A.C. Arthur. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.
What People are Saying About This
PRAISE FOR A.C. ARTHUR
and her Shadow Shifter novels
“Deliciously edgy, sexy, and certainly not to be missed. A.C. Arthur knows how to deliver the heat.” —Lora Leigh, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“The shifter universe just got sexier with the kick-off to Arthur’s sizzling new series, Shadow Shifters…intriguing.”—RT Book Reviews
“Arthur does a great job of building up the sexual tension…I’ll be looking for the next one in the series.”—Under the Covers
“Romantic…exciting…fast-paced.”—Genre Go Round Reviews
“I am in love with A.C. Arthur’s new series, Shadow Shifters. From start to finish, I was absolutely hooked…an incredible roller coaster ride! With amazing suspense and sizzling sparks, Arthur creates a fantastic cast of characters that have secrets and lusts and so much more…Highly recommended to all paranormal romance lovers.” —Romancing the Book
“Temptation Rising has everything a good book should: action, adventure, suspense, mystery, and fiery hot passion…The love scenes are intense and the detail, especially when they wind up in the jungle, is amazling…A.C. Arthur is a talented author and reader will eagerly look forward to the next one in the Shadow Shifters series.” —Romance Junkies Review
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A.C. Arthur has done it again. The Shadow Shifter series continues to amaze me. This is another great read. This series has taken us from the streets to the jungle and back again. I am in love with family of jaguar shifters and I hope we keep getting more. Caprise is a shifter running from who and what she is. She is also running from a past she doesn’t want anyone to know about. She is a shifter who cannot embrace that part of her life. To take her mind away from her issues, she dances. She is an exotic dancer who owns the minds of men when she is on stage. Xavier is a FBI agent who is deadly to anyone is sets out to hurt those he cares about. He is the man who is tasked by Caprise’s brother Nick to keep an eye on her and eyeing her is what he does very well. Caprise and Xavier have a very HOT relationship. It sizzles and their story burns up the pages of this book. Keeping in line with the other books in this series, the book has intrigue, hotness, sexy shifters and a devious mastermind. Passion’s Prey is an excellent read. The storyline is well written. It has believable plot, great storyline flow and terrific character interaction. This is a 5 star read and we HIGHLY recommend it. Do yourself a huge favor and pick up all of the books in this series. Tasha, Divas of the Serengeti Book Club
Love the book!!!
Loved this series. There was something constantly going on and I couldn't wait to get to the next book. My only disappointment is Passion's Prey left me hanging. There are so many open questions. I didn't think I would like reading about shadow shifters but this piqued my curiosity. A. C. Arthur you need to continue this series so the loose ends can be tied up. This series was extremely enjoyable. Hopefully there will be a #4 to this series but don't make rush it.
Must Read collection.
It carried a very weak story line. It basically was X and Caprise. The rest was just a minor backlot story. It got repetitive of X saying its temporary and Caprise whining. It's not her best work. I enjoyed the first 2 very much but this one lacked a solid story. It was all over the place and nothing solid.
Passion’s Prey is book three in The Shadow Shifters series by A.C. Arthur. I started this series some time ago and loved the first two books but for some reason I got side tracked and didn’t come back to it. I’m so glad I decided to jump back in to this intense world of jaguar shifters. Xavier Santos-Markland or “X,” is one of the two men closest to the Faction Leader, Rome Reynolds, of the Stateside Shadow Shifters. Shadow Shifters are half man, half jaguar. They originated in the jungles of Brazil but have now integrated themselves among the humans and just want to live normal quiet lives. X has a dark past that he keeps hidden away deep within himself. His darkness has shaped the man he is today. Caprise Delgado is the sister of the Faction Leader’s other right hand man, Nick. Caprise was away for five years and has finally returned to Washington D.C. and to her brother. Caprise also has secrets that she won’t share with anyone. Only now she has begun getting threatening phone calls. Has her past caught up with her? Caprise is a dancer. With no other outlet that allows her to dance, she has taken a job at a strip club. Only this strip club is owned by Sabar, a money hungry shifter that is manufacturing a new drug that kills humans. Both X and Caprise feel a strong attraction to each other. No matter how much they try to ignore it, it won’t go away. Neither of them wants to be mated. Both feel there is too much darkness in their pasts. Caprise despises her jaguar half and wants nothing to do with it. X is determined to convince her to once again embrace her animal side. The Shadow Shifters only mission is to keep those they love safe and try to rid the streets of the deadly new drug and keep the humans safe as well. I loved watching X and Caprise slowly accept that they were destined to be together. Chemistry changed to lust which grew to trust and slowly to love. But humans are dying and the drugs need to be taken off the streets. As they try to navigate their feelings for one another, at the same time they are faced with danger and death. This is sexy and steamy but also action packed and intense. You could read it as a stand alone but certain things might be confusing if you haven’t read the previous books. So, really, it would be better to start at the beginning. Every book is amazing, though, and I don’t think you’ll regret it. I can’t wait to move on to the next book, Shifter’s Claim.
Reviewed by Guest Reviewer/Jessica & posted at Under the Covers Book Blog “If you’re in the mood for some hot shifters who can kick ass, pick up this series, just make sure it’s in order.” ~Under the Covers Passion’s Prey is the third installment in The Shadow Shifters series and while I found myself very interested in the world that Ms. Arthur created, I felt a bit lost. But of course that is my fault, because I haven’t read the first two in this series. So before you even pick this up, I recommend you read this series in order so this world can flow the way it should. Although I was lost, I enjoyed this world. These shadow shifters are half human and half cat species. They range from Tigers to cheetahs and they are quite powerful and beautiful. They’re pretty much shape shifters and they live in our world to protect not only their own species but the humans as well from the Rogues that have separated from their tribe. In Passion’s Prey the story of X and Caprise is very full of…. well….. Passion. These two are stubborn, hard and strong willed and when they collide it’s not sparks, It’s fireworks! X is an FBI agent and his latest job is to watch over Caprise who’s life is in danger. And while X is comfortable in his Shadow shifter skin, Caprise is not and she does everything she can to deny her fate and live like a human. So when X finds her stripping at a local strip club he can’t help but want to take her away from it all. He’s just not sure if it’s because he wants to save her or screw the crap out of her. What makes it even worse? Caprise is the sister of X’s best friend. But that sure doesn’t stop them from getting it on all over the place! Caprise and X seem to share similar dark pasts and man is it heavy. Their stories will at least have you raising your eyebrows in utter disgust and shock. It’s not your typical girl saves guy or guy saves girl, these two save each other which puts them on even ground. They end up having mutual respect for one another and that makes their relationship strong. Besides all that, Passion’s Prey is a great world that is involved with the FBI and all that good stuff. These shifters are in this world of ours and we don ‘t even know it. They’re kick ass no nonsense guys so if you’re in the mood for some hot shifters who can kick ass, pick up this series, just make sure it’s in order. *ARC provided by publisher
OMG is all I could say after reading the third installment to the Shadow Shifters' series. At the end of Seduction's Shift readers knew the next shifter to fall was the sexy and mysterious FBI agent Xavier or as known to his friends X. Everyone realized it would take a strong woman to capture this jaguar's heart and who better to take up the gauntlet but none other than Nick's sister Caprise. Sparks and instant attraction were recognized initially in Seduction's Shift and continue throughout the pages of Passion's Prey until readers will need a pitcher of ICE COLD water when starting this story. X and Caprise's story will bring several emotions and will have readers cheering and celebrating this couple's journey to love. There were some hilarious scenes in this story and some off the chain love scenes. Ms. Arthur did an outstanding job in developing X's and Caprise's relationship by allowing readers to experience and feel the pain each carried with them. Readers will fall in love with X and fall even more in love with this series. Excellent read.
This is some great reading. All three books are great. I am so looking forward to the next book.
Ok if you thought book 1 Temptation Rising and book 2 Seduction's Shift was good then hold on to your hat because Passion's Prey will have you in total reading bliss. OMG Xavier and Caprise story was off the chain good!! Both X and Caprise are from two different worlds and both have passes they don't want to confront. There tolerance level for one another is very low until the night they took things to the next level. Passion Prey's is full of drama, action and hot steamy love scenes. So Shifters fans get ready for one heck of a ride because you are truly in for a treat. As always A.C. job well done!!