Natural Evil by Thea Harrison
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (108 Pages)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Foxglove
Attempted Murder. Passion. Betrayal. It’s a dog-eat-dog world.
Claudia Hunter is on a road trip through the Nevada desert when she sees the body of a dog on the side of the highway. Pulling over to investigate, she quickly determines that the enormous animal is clinging to life. While working to save him with the help of the local vet, Claudia realizes there’s something about the creature that seems more. Other. Wyr. Which makes this case of animal cruelty attempted murder.
Too injured to shape shift, Luis Alvaraz is reluctant to tell Claudia what he knows about his attack, afraid it will only make her a target. But the sheriff is corrupt, and his attackers know Luis is alive and vulnerable. To make matters worse, a sandstorm is sweeping into town, and if they're going to survive the night, Luis will have to place all his trust in Claudia.
Claudia Hunter is on an extended road trip, after ‘retiring’ from the military. On the way down a deserted highway in the desert, she finds a massive dog, bigger than anything she has ever seen, and at first believes it is dead. But as she gets close, she realizes it is alive, though looks like it had been tortured and dragged behind a car, and she is determined to save it. She has a feeling that it may be more than just a dog. When the area sheriff just happens along, offering to put the animal out of its misery, she is more determined than ever to save it. Claudia suspects the dog is Wyr, and if he is, someone tried to murder him.
When he recovers and can shift, she learns his name is Luis, and he is indeed one of the elder races, and was caught investigating suspicious activity in the area: activity that involves the sheriff as well as the wealthy owner of the only successful local business. As Luis heals, he and Claudia grow closer, and the two of them decide to take care of the trouble in the area. Trapped together by a sandstorm, passions run high, and Claudia and Luis share the sleeping bag in the trailer the vet has loaned her. Can these two special people stop the illegal activity, and keep each other alive? Can they find a way to be together, or will the evil out there come between them?
The world of the Elder Races is a most intriguing creation from Thea Harrison. I love this world where things are more than they appear to be, and people are never simple. The characters are unconventional and interesting, and danger and violence are always simmering just under the surface.
Claudia Hunter is a smart, strong and independent woman. She's former military, retired but not by choice. She's always alert, and she's just a bit more than human herself. She's honest, with a sense of fair play and loyal to those who earn it. I like that she isn’t some young woman, but is a more mature forty something, average female. She has a history, and that has shaped her actions and her life. I also liked that she's open about what she wants, from life and those around her.
Luis is more than just a man. He is Wyr, and strong, handsome and honorable. He's intrigued by Claudia, because she's also strong and honest. As he heals, he learns more about the woman who rescued him, and everything he learns makes him want to know more. As they grow closer, during the sandstorm, he wants more than friendship with her, but isn’t sure if she's interested. I like how these two don’t play games with each other, but are honest and open about their desires.
There's a secret agenda here, with the sheriff covering up many of the crimes in the area. The danger and the intrigue are subtle at first, but as Claudia and Luis investigate, they uncover a veritable nest of iniquity and evil. This one grabbed me from the first page and refused to let me put it down. I recommend Ms. Harrison’s Natural Evil, and all of her Tales of the Elder Races to those who can be satisfied with a very passionate happy for now.