Monday, October 27, 2008

Hot River: Second Chance Charity by Kate Hill

Hot River: Second Chance Charity
by Kate Hill

Cover art by Bryan Keller
ISBN (13): 978-1-60521-083-4
Genre(s): Paranormal
Theme(s): Werewolves, Elves, Dragons & Magical Creatures
Series: Hot River
Length: Novella


Charity, Queen of the fierce Hot River Werewolf pack, has reason to hate men. Enslaved by one as a child, turned by another as a woman, she’s got issues. But being a werewolf isn’t one of them. She’s been making the most of her cursed existence, until a run in with the man who turned her makes her question the path she’s chosen.
Deep in the Wicked Wild, she meets Shane. Half Elf, half Wildman, Shane makes her question everything she thinks she knows about men -- and sex. The attraction between them is electric. In spite of his origins Shane had a tender side that’s hard to resist, even for the Werewolf Queen. Can he convince Charity to take a second chance at love?


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Charity had never dreamed she could be so weak and dishonest.
She stood by a brook that ran near the clearing her pack called home. Glancing around, she saw her women -- some in wolf form, others in their human skin, mingling in the village. They sparred on the dirt floor of the forest, cleaned and prepared meat from the hunt and went about their daily lives, seeming not to care that just yesterday their queen had cheated them out of their much-deserved revenge.
Every werewolf in the pack had been cursed by the same man. Hugo had enticed them, fucked them and, with his love, forced them to change from women to beasts with every full moon. Together they had formed this pack and learned to master their curse so they could call upon the wolf inside them any time they chose. Though in many ways their curse had become a gift, they had sworn vengeance against Hugo.
After so long they had captured him and had been on the verge of making him pay for his animal lust only to be thwarted by a woman Charity had foolishly loved like a member of her pack.
Charity growled deep in her chest. Her fists clenched and pain shot through her injured arm. During the battle, her opponent had broken her arm. Though because of her shapeshifting ability Charity was well on her way to healing, she couldn’t shake the feeling of self-disgust. Not because she’d been wounded, but because of the reasons why.
“Charity,” Magda, her second-in-command, interrupted.
Charity glanced up at the naked brown-haired woman who approached. Like the others in the pack, she wore no clothes. They weren’t necessary in the Wicked Wild, at least not in their territory. The female wolf pack ruled this part of the forest and, until yesterday, had defended themselves well.
“No one holds what happened against you. Sadie challenged you for Hugo’s life and she won the battle. You set them both free and now it’s over. You don’t have to leave.”
Closing her eyes for a moment, Charity tried to keep her temper in check. These women didn’t fully comprehend what had happened. “Yes, I do have to leave.”
“Anyone can lose a battle. Sadie is a strong warrior.”
“I know what she is. I made her,” Charity said bitterly.
Sadie, a gifted magical practitioner, had come to her years ago with an avid interest in shapeshifters. The women had taken an instant liking to each other and Sadie had been invited to live with the pack. After much convincing, Charity had agreed to give Sadie the power of the werewolf. They had been close, then Sadie had become her wolf daughter.
Sadie knew how the female pack had been cursed. She knew all about the pain Hugo had caused them, yet she had still chosen to harbor the bastard in her house, attempting to rehabilitate him and show him how to control his power.
“If the women felt you were wrong or that justice wasn’t served, we would have gone against pack law and killed Hugo and Sadie anyway. During the short time we held him captive, we took our revenge on his hide. Not that he didn’t deserve it, but…”
“What?” Charity demanded.
“I’m not the only member of this pack to believe he seemed to regret what he did to us.”
“Don’t be weak, Magda. That’s how he got to you in the first place. Feigning sweetness. You know he showed each of us what we wanted to see and told us what we wanted to hear. We entered his bed women and left wolves. Do you think because he pretends to be sorry for what he did that he deserves to be forgiven?”
The women held each other’s gaze for several seconds, then Charity looked away. That was a first. Usually she could stare down anyone.
Perhaps because she knew she was lying again. She was accusing Magda of doing what she had done, except for Charity it was worse. She was their queen. It had been her duty to avenge them, and she had failed. There was no forgiveness for her, just as there should have been none for Hugo.
Magda sighed. “Maybe it is a good idea for you to go away and sort things out.”
Charity turned to her and nodded. “You’re a great warrior, Magda, and a wise woman. You’ll probably be a far better queen than I have been.”
“You are still our queen,” Magda said with conviction. “I’ve talked to the other women and they agree. When you return, you will take your rightful place as leader of our pack. I will simply watch over our territory until then.”
Drawing a deep breath and releasing it slowly, Charity tilted her face upward, squinting at the sunlight shining through spaces between the leaves at the tops of the tall trees.
“When will you leave?” Magda asked.
“Good luck.”
“Keep the pack safe and strong.”
“You have my word.”

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