The Shifter Chronicles 7
In eighteenth-century Egypt, falcon shifter Con’s parents died attempting to keep powerful, ancient scrolls out of the hands of a monster. Now it falls to Con to keep the scrolls hidden and lead the hunter away so their sacrifice isn’t for nothing. But he isn’t quite fast enough, and he finds himself helpless in an unfamiliar English countryside village. That is, until an intriguing man with a limp carries Con to his manor to tend to his wounds.
As an alpha wolf, Quincy’s compassion embarrasses his pack, which leads him to nurse the falcon in secret. A bond quickly forms between Quincy and the mysterious raptor, so he’s concerned at Con’s reaction to the arrival of another visitor, the Countess Devonshire.
Now Con and Quincy are torn between duty and desire, and the consequences of their decisions could be the difference between life or death.
Second Edition with revised text.
- 1 Read list
Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Demisexual, Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Tropes: Fated Mates / Soul Mates
Word Count: 49,050
Setting: English Countryside
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
The sun broke past the clouds and seared his eyes. But it was a cold sun. He was very far from the warm sands of his birth land. Blinking, struggling to focus, Con observed his surroundings, noticing how the humans in the village ignored him. He heard noises: shouts, laughter, heated arguments. He couldn’t distinguish any words, any one voice. It all melded together, one cacophony of sound that pressed against his ears.
He tried his wings once again, but the pain shook him, and overtook his anger, which left him lethargic. He wondered how much blood he’d lost.
“What’s a falcon doing here?”
Con flinched and looked up. Three young boys stood in a circle around him, staring down.
“Maybe it belongs to the devils in Spenser Manor. We should kill it.”
Anger stirred once again, and Con glared at the lads. He snapped his beak fiercely, knowing it was a pointless gesture.
“Won’t the Spensers be mad if we do?”READ MORE
“Not if they don’t know.”
Fear spiked through Con, panic tickled his throat. He stretched out his wings despite the pain and curled his talons.
“Get a stick, Daniel. It’s trying to leave.”
One of the lads left. Con’s legs trembled as his heart hammered against his chest. The gouges in his skin, which had stopped bleeding, began again with his movement. He continued to snap his beak, putting his back against the stone wall of the well.
“He looks scared,” one of the boys said.
“It’s just scared we’re going to eat it. Don’t be soft, it’s just a bird.”
The third boy came back with an axe, and Con realized the boy knew how to use it. Terror surged through his body. He couldn’t fly. He couldn’t hop away. So he waited, determined to die standing.
“What are you doing with that axe, lad?”
Con jerked his head toward the voice just as the boys did. Then the three boys stumbled back hurriedly, blatant fear in their eyes as a man clothed in black walked toward them. He had a heavy brow, a broad face with deep set eyes, his features rather brutish. His gait was slightly stilted as if he had a wounded leg. He wore riding clothes, all in black, which was unusual. As far as Con knew, the nobility dressed like peacocks, parading in colorful clothing with fine stitching. But with this man, his clothes were practical, sturdy, but still styled in the fashion of the day; waistcoat, jacket, breeches, stockings, but his riding boots hid his legs from view. The wind fluttered dark hair that was longish and curled slightly at the ends. He didn’t wear a hat. Odd. Hats, as far as Con knew, were the fashion of the day. The man’s eyes were a soft yet intense green.
As the man came to stand right next to him, glaring down at the boys, Con suddenly sensed something else; something primal, instinctual, wild about the man. Something… familiar.
“Go back to your homes, lads. Now.” The man’s voice was a growl.
The boys scattered, running away. Then Con noticed the villagers were staring at the man. Many crossed themselves. The man ignored them and bent over him, rather awkwardly. Con snapped his beak. The man smiled slightly, raising his hands, palm out, his movements slow.
“Easy there.” His voice was suddenly softer, kinder than before. “I’d like to help you. You seem as though you need it.”
The wind blew again, blowing the man’s scent right into Con’s face. Taking a deep breath, Con realized why the man seemed so familiar. The man was a shapeshifter. Not a bird, no, but one who could change into an animal all the same. Did the man know he was a shapeshifter? Stunned, Con could only stare at him. He’d never met another creature such as he before, other than his parents. There were times, in his darker moments, when he’d wondered if any others existed. He’d wondered if he was alone in this world, fighting a war no one cared about.
The man slowly moved his arms, bringing them toward Con. Con snapped back to his current situation and instinctually wanted to fight, though he resisted. He sensed sincere concern from the man, a gentleness that surprised him. He wasn’t used to gentleness. But if the man could stop the pain that radiated through his body, why not take the risk?
The man’s hands pressed to his sides, against his wings. Con couldn’t stop the sound of pain that burst from him. A flash of sympathy crossed the man’s face.
“Forgive me. Easy, there. Easy.” The man lifted him gently, though any pressure on his wounds was painful. Then the man tucked him into the crook of his arm and walked away, toward a horse Con didn’t notice before. The beast pawed the ground as the man approached, and Con was surprised with the agility of the man when he leapt onto the horse without jostling him. Con wondered at the stiff way the man walked and had felt a slight lean to the left. Was something wrong with his leg? Had he gotten shot and the wound healed wrong? Con realized the man didn’t kneel or bend his legs.
The horse sped away, out of the village and down a dirt road. Acres of countryside was the only thing visible on either side. Con closed his eyes, stunned by the safety he found in the stranger’s arms. They were warm and strong, and his scent was pleasing: an agreeable combination of wild, leather, cotton, and the musky scent of male. Con turned his beak into the man’s chest and took a large sniff. The shapeshifter’s scent soothed him, just as the scent of his parents once did.
The strange turn of events was too miraculous to believe. He’d been hunted all his life, had nearly died, and now he was under the protection of a gentleman. A shapeshifter gentleman. Pain still throbbed intensely through his body, but he hoped the stranger would see to his wounds once they reached their destination.COLLAPSE
Hunted Guardian is number seven in the Shifter Chronicles series and, unlike the others in the series so far, it is a period piece being set in 1784 in England. It is based in the English countryside, at the manor house inhabited by a pack or family of wolf shapeshifters.
Lady Buchanan, or Lady Spenser as she is known within her pack, rules her pack and the villages and farms in her vicinity with a firm but fair hand. The humans may fear the wolves, but they appreciate the stability they have brought to the region. That’s about to change with the arrival of the Countess of Devonshire and her entourage.
Quincy is Lady Buchanan’s nephew, and has the position of pack guardian. He watches out for his pack, children or pups and the elderly in particular. Quincy has a deformed leg, and has worked hard to find his place in his family. Now he is respected pack member and is more loved than he realises.
Sadly, life is never going to be the same after he rescues an injured peregrine falcon from a number of village boys.
The falcon is a shape shifter named Con. Con is also a guardian. He is the hunted guardian in the title, and the guardian of a couple of rather dangerous scrolls. He takes his role seriously, but meeting Quincy has given him something else to think about. Something about a kind and handsome wolf with a limp.
The story describes what happens when the hunters of the guardians strike against the wolves, as they are also hunters of shapeshifters. What follows is both exciting and devastating for all involved.
The book ends with some background history for the rest of the series. While interesting, it worked less well for me than the main story – I’d like to see this section developed more fully, as it has the potential to stand on its own and to not just seem like a lucky coincidence.
That aside, this is a beautiful love story set in difficult circumstances, and was joy to read.
Timeless love against an ageless enemy... who will rise victorious?
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