Winter Born – found in Dark Bites – Dark-Hunter Series – Sherrilyn Kenyon

Continuing on in the Dark Bites, A Short Story Collection by Sherrilyn Kenyon, this is the 3rd story in the book. The Dark-Hunter series has a few series within the series; Dream-Hunter, Hellchaser and Were-Hunter and this one is part of the Were-Hunter series.

A few helpful terms before I start:

Were-Hunter – A long time ago, a king with the help of a god did magickal experiments on animals of prey and people which resulted in humans and animals to shift into each form. There are two kinds of Were-Hunters, Arcadian and Katagaria. The gods cursed them to always fight between the two races.

Arcadian – are Were-Hunters who are born human but can shift into animal form when they reach puberty and unlock their magickal powers.

Katagaria – are animal hearted Were-Hunters who are born in animal form and able to transform into human form when they reach puberty and unlock their magickal powers.

Mating – Were-Hunters do not get to choose their own mates. The Fates choose them and the Fates often seem to be cruel about it. Were-Hunters have to have sex in order to find their mate and when they are assigned their mate, matching tribal designs are burned into their skin (usually on the palms of their hands but not always). Once the mark appears, the couple has three weeks to complete a mating ritual or the male is rendered impotent for as long as the female is alive. The female can have sex with others but will never have children. Even if they complete the ritual, the male can only have sex with his mate.

Bonded Mates – a mated couple can choose to complete a binding ritual which will tie them together forever. If one dies, the other one dies.

This book seemed to be about sex more than anything. Yes, there was more to it but for the most part, it was about sex which isn’t usually the main subject of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s stories.

Pandora Kouti has been kidnapped from the future and brought to the present day. Well…she wasn’t exactly kidnapped but it wasn’t her will. She is an Arcadian were-panther and her pack made an agreement with a pack of Katagaria in this time period which allows the Katagaria to take a lot of their female Arcadians in order to breed with them. But the Katagaria pack of panthers abuse the Arcadian females. They take a female who is in heat and allow the whole pack to have sex with her in order to find mates. If she doesn’t find a mate, they turn her into a slave and when she is in heat, even though they know she isn’t a mate to any of the males, they still have sex with her.

Pandora escaped and is in Atlanta and Dragon*Con looking for Acheron, an ancient Atlantean and leader of the Dark-Hunters. She has heard he can help her return to her own time. She has not mastered time-travel and won’t have the capability until after she is mated. She has no idea what Acheron looks like but knows he is there with his daughter so she is looking in the crowd of dressed-up comic heroes and villains for someone who looks ancient and powerful.

She decides to go up to her room when she spots four Katagaria were-panthers. She is frightened that they will find her because she is in heat. When a female were-panther is in heat, she can’t help but want to have sex with a male panther but Katagaria are known to be rough and dangerous during sex. She knew one female who had her neck snapped because the Katagaria male became too wild and out of control.

Dante Pontis and three of his brothers are at Dragon*Con to meet with Acheron so he can introduce him to some alternative bands for Dante’s club in Minnesota. When they smell a female were-panther in heat, Dante becomes concerned. His two younger brothers, Leo and Mike, who are twins become excited and immediately go looking for the source. His other brother, Romeo, is mated so he is in control of himself. Dante doesn’t want to lose control because he never wants to chance mating with a were-panther. He likes humans, not only because there is very little chance of one of them being his mate, but because they don’t get violent like Katagaria females when they have sex. Katagaria females can turn on a male and sometimes kill them. It happened to his brother and his brother’s bonded mate. She got too rough and accidently slashed his jugular and both of them died because they were bonded.

His mother and other members of his pack mate with the males, get pregnant and then drop the pups off with their mates and run off until they are in heat again when they show up for a few days and then run off again. Dante has a lot of siblings so his mother must have done it a lot. His father liked to run off into the hills a lot so Dante was stuck raising his siblings.

But Dante can’t stay away from Pandora. He seems not to be able to control himself. And of course the Fates decide to mate them. Now, they have three weeks to complete the mating ritual or he will become impotent for life. Not only that, the other Katagaria pack has found Pandora and wants to reclaim her.

The story was good, mostly because I liked the twins. They were pretty funny. And I liked seeing Acheron and Simi in the story. Simi is Acheron’s adopted daughter. She is a Charante demon who has a ferocious appetite and puts barbeque sauce on everything. Acheron is always telling her not to eat anyone. I liked the rest of the story but I thought there was too much focus on the sex and I don’t think sex is something to build a relationship upon. It’s important but not the foundation of a relationship. Sherrilyn did make a point of Pandora and Dante wanting more from a relationship that what Katagaria weres usually want.

I think in the reading order of the Dark-Hunter series, this would be 6.5 and would be part of the Were-Hunter series.

Now, I’m off to read the next story in the book.

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