Author: Denise McFarland
Amazon.com synopsis: The world has evolved. Fairies exist and have the power to heal. Vampires are real and aren’t to be trusted. Wolves have revealed their ability to shift into human form.
Will Jaxon is both man and wolf. He is the Alpha of his community’s Wolf Force, the agency that provides security and protection for all mankind. In addition to his role as the head of his pack, Will has been working undercover to infiltrate an illegal drug organization that is trafficking women. When Will is coerced to take the lead in an abduction, he agrees in order to preserve his cover. But one look into the terrified, green eyes of the woman he attacks, leaves him powerless to continue.
As Rayne Daniels stares into the face of the man restraining her, she sees a shift, for a fraction of a second he changes and his true form is revealed. She realizes he is a wolf, a protector, and almost before she knows what is happening, he releases her. Rayne escapes physically, but emotionally she continues to be haunted, held prisoner by the trauma of that night.
When Will discovers that members of the organization are still looking for Rayne, his entire world is altered. Now, Will spends his days undercover and every other free moment keeping Rayne safe, because her survival has become critical to him in a way that he cannot explain.
About the Author
Denise McFarland is thrilled to introduce her very first publication, Immer. As a voracious reader from childhood, she found herself frequently being drawn into paranormal fantasy novels, falling in love with the interesting quirks and powers that made the characters “para” and the stories fantasy. It’s not surprising that when she finally jumped into the author pool, she dove toward her favorite genre. She has dreamed for years of being a novelist. So, when she developed a story that she couldn’t get out of her head, she knew she had to start typing.
Denise is a lifelong resident of Jacksonville, Florida. She spends her summers soaking up the Florida sunshine and the rest of each year teaching 4th grade.
Chapter 1 Excerpt
Rayne Daniels was tired. It felt like a long week and it was only Wednesday. But she’d promised herself she’d exercise three times a week and she hadn’t cheated at all for the last four weeks, so she wasn’t going to start now. After locking her ground floor apartment, she jogged down the first part of the path, around the corner and three blocks over, heading for the park in her neighborhood. She slowed as she crossed the street and made her way around the corner, with the park in view. The sun was just starting to think about setting, telling her she’d have to do more jogging than walking to speed up her trip around the park and be back home before dark.
Exercise was her attempt to get a little healthier. Following her 25th birthday Rayne had noticed her curves were getting a little softer and she’d heard about women’s bodies betraying then after 30. She’d decided she should get a head start on beating back the clock. She was in the process of congratulating herself for heading out into the cool dusk, despite her exhaustion and the later start, as she rounded the higher bushes on the edge of the park. She’d trained herself to speed up the jogging to a run in this area because as a single girl who ran alone, it wasn’t wise to linger near large shubbery that blocked you from view. Automatically running faster, she continued to think about this new phase of her life.
She was in a new city, with a new business, and now she had a new exercise routine. She was like an entirely new woman. Rayne was so caught up in her thoughts that she failed to notice the bent branches and scattering of leaves around the bushes. If she’d been paying attention, this would have warned her that something was wrong. As it was, she never slowed, never even suspected danger, until she was caught in the grip of it.
Rayne stopped short as she felt firm hands reach out and pull her off the path. She lost her breath as it was jerked from within her and was so shocked that the attack was really happening that she forgot to struggle for the first 3 heartbeats. But then reality set in and she pulled back, opening her mouth wide to scream. At the same moment anticipating her reaction, her attacker clamped both of her wrists in one vice grip, and he used the other hand to cover her mouth as he pulled her deeper into the shrubs.
Rayne knew no one was coming for her. The path had been empty as she’d entered the park and with every passing moment the darkness was settling around her. People didn’t come to the park after the sun set. She was completely on her own. She silently prayed, please God, please no, please help me.
They were totally surrounded by the high growing bushes and as she continued to struggle, she began to feel helplessly like she was about to live every nightmare she’d ever had. It was becoming harder to breathe through her panic and she tried to turn her head to find some form of escape. That was when she saw the ground behind her attacker. There was a whole cluster of men watching her world end. She couldn’t make out features, but they were standing there, witnessing her terror like it was some new sporting event. She couldn’t help the whimper that made its way up from her throat, as she finally looked up into the face of her assailant. She pleaded with her eyes, because her voice was still trapped behind his hand, begging him silently to let her go.
Watching his eyes she saw a slight change, so quickly she thought she must have imagined it.
He leaned in toward her and almost growled, “Stop. Quit fighting me.”
He lowered his voice further and tears burned into her eyes as he roughly whispered, “Use your knee and push me away. Do you understand? Make it look convincing. Look at me. Do you understand?”
The words were starting to penetrate her terror. Was he telling her he was going to let her go? She barely tilted her head forward, watching his eyes, momentarily paralyzed by her hope. She watched him match her movement, and saw the spilt second difference in his eyes again as he tilted his head forward, acknowledging that she’d truly heard him correctly.
Louder again he said, “Stop struggling.”
The words were barely out of his mouth when she reared her head back and slammed it into his face. Feigning that he was caught off guard, his head snapped back on impact and he released her hands. Rayne used that moment to thrust her knee upward and then shove him off balance. The second her hands left his shoulders she turned and ran. She ran with everything she had, her panic and adrenaline pushing her forward faster than she’d ever run. And she was screaming as loudly as she could. No words would form, she just screamed and ran for her apartment. Nearing her door, she briefly wondered if she was leading the monster right to her home, but a quick glance behind her showed no one was following.
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Blog Tour organized by: Happy Lil Book Tours.
*Hosts were provided with a copy of the book for review purposes in exchange for their honest reviews and opinions.*
“The description of this book really caught my interest. A version of the world where fairies and vampires and werewolves are real…and everyone knows they exist. Fairies have the power to heal and work in healthcare. Vampires are still pretty secretive, because of course. And wolves have become the police “Force” that protects humans and keeps the peace. I mean, I won’t lie, that’s a world I’d love to live in.This story focuses on the wolves, and in particular, [Alpha] Will Jaxon. He’s the head of the Force in his city and is working undercover to bring down an illegal drug syndicate that is using trafficked women to sort and package product. As part of his initiation, he is required to take part in “grabbing” one of these women. Halfway through the abduction attempt, the woman, Rayne, looks into Will’s eyes and the fear he sees stops him cold – he lets her escape. Although he is able to explain it away and preserve his cover, he can’t get the woman out of his mind. At the same time, as Rayne recovers from the traumatic experience, she is convinced she saw something different in the eyes of the man that tried to kidnap her. She is sure he was a wolf, but can’t justify it, since they are supposed to be protectors. The rest of the book takes exactly the “romance” course you’d expect. Will cannot stop thinking about (or stay away from) Rayne. And though their contact is born from his overwhelming guilt about what he did to her and his attempts to right it, he finds, as things progress, that those feelings are changing into something deeper. Though Rayne starts out terrified and uncomfortable around him, she accepts his help, hoping that learning to defend and protect herself will give her back her sense of security. And as we see with Will, her feelings begin to change and deepen as well. But for each of them, their own guilt and confusion over how their “relationship” started, and the differences between them and their two worlds, threaten to crush those budding feelings.
Overall, this was a successful, if slightly unorthodox, paranormal romance. I say unorthodox because the, usually quite omnipresent, “steamy” side of this genre was particularly quiet. That is not to say that the romantic tension was not there, or not done well. In fact, let me tell you, McFarland knows how to string a reader along. There were so many times that I got my hopes up, was so excited for impending release, only to have it be snatched away. It was super stressful, but in that good romantic book stress way, of course. To that end, I think the author did a great job setting the mood and building the atmosphere. The beginning, the “world building” part of the book, was a bit juvenile. By which I mean that the exposition was just a little too unpolished/unsubtle for my taste – lots of telling and not enough description/showing to allow the reader to really use their imagination with the place. Towards the middle, there were a few times where I felt like things got slightly repetitive. There were some scenes and inner dialogue that were super similar and essentially the same plot device, that could have been condensed down without losing much. There were some scenes though, like when Will and Rayne played outside in the snow, that were just super cute. By the last 15% or so the plot had really picked back up and I was speed reading like crazy to see what would happen. It was a nice dramatic ending, as one would expect from the crime/thriller aspect of the novel. From the romance side though, after all the build-up I felt like the “moment” for Will and Rayne was just too fast and I wanted more! I mean that’s not the worst problem ever, in fact I suppose it could be seen as a kind of compliment, but it all just happened so fast. I would have loved to see more of the happily ever after, the “completion,” if you will, of Immer. I respect the author’s choice not to write that, but still…I can wish for it.
My biggest gripe with this book was with the writing itself. There were times where I could tell it was just editing issues, small typos and things like that, that are annoying but don’t necessarily affect the bigger picture. But if I’m being honest, the entire book was written in a very “first attempt” sort of way. There was very little nuance in the word choices, the depth of dialogue (both inner and between characters), and just generally I could a lot of the same issues that I see in many YA novels, the writing that assumes readers needs everything explained in detail because we will not be able to come to a conclusion on our own without it. It’s a frustrating style, but it’s also something that you can work to tune out (I’m getting pretty good at it actually), and allow yourself to enjoy the story underneath the surface. Looking past that, you can tell this is a story that means a lot to the author. It’s almost as if she wrote these characters, especially the main one, to portray a world and a story she’d love to live: a world where fantasy creatures are real, there’s a little drama and a great love, and she owns a books store. It doesn’t sound half bad.”