A few terms to begin –
Apollites – A race of people made by Apollo with the intention that he would one day replace Zeus. He thought that he could create a race superior to humans. Apollites are stronger and taller than humans with psychic powers. Angered by this, Zeus made declared war on them and exiled them to Atlantis.
When the Apollite queen became jealous of Apollo’s beloved mistress, Ryssa, she ordered Ryssa and her newborn’s son to be killed and ripped apart. In sorrow and rage over this, Apollo cursed all Apollites to die painfully on their 27th birthday because that was how old Ryssa was. They also could no longer live in the daylight and had to live only off of Apollite blood. In doing this, he also cursed his son, Stryker.
Some Apollites live longer because they have learned to suck the souls out of humans to extend their lives but they have to keep a steady diet of souls to live.
Were-Hunter – A long time ago, a king with the help of a god did magickal experiments on animals of prey and Apollites to save his sons from the Apollite curse of dying when they reach the age of 27 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 hate each other so they always fight between the two races.
Arcadian – Were-Hunters who are born human but can shift into animal form when they reach puberty and unlock their magickal powers. Arcadians believe they are superior to Katagaria because they are more human. When they sleep, they retain the natural form of a human.
Arcadian Sentinel – soldiers, chosen by the Fates, who hunt down Slayers. Only a few are born to each patria. A Sentinel knows he or she has been chosen because when they reach maturity, geometrical shapes appear and cover one side of their face. Many choose to use their magick to hide the markings to blend in with humans and so other Weres don’t know what they are.
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. When they sleep, they retain their natural form of an animal.
Slayer – Katagaria who are lost to their animal impulses and attack Arcadians. More violent and vicious Slayers are referred to as True Slayers. Slayers and True Slayers are hunted down by Sentinels. Even other Katagaria look down upon Slayers.
Note: When Were-Hunters have mixed parentage, an Arcadian mother and a Katagaria father or vice-versa, they can be born either as Arcadian or Katagaria. It is rare but a Katagaria can be born in human form so they are thought to be Arcadian but when they reach puberty, their true or natural form will turn out to be their animal.
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.
Once again, I couldn’t stand the leading lady for most of the story. Angelia grew up with Fury in their Arcadian wolf pack. She was his best friend until she, along with the rest of the pack, discovered he was really a Katagaria. The pack beat him and Angelia stabbed him, just missing his heart. Fury left the pack and hasn’t seen her since.
Fury was born as part of a litter to his Arcadian mother who absolutely hates anything Katagaria. His mother kept Fury, Dare and Star and gave Vane, Fang and Anya to their father. The story didn’t actually say it but I’m guessing the three she kept were born in human form. I tried really hard not to think about that birth but I just couldn’t help the visual out of my head. She had puppies and human babies all at once. That’s gotta be quite the experience!
Fury’s mother, Bryani, was kidnapped and raped by a pack of Katagaria and one of those turned out to be her mate, Fury’s father. Bryani turned out to be quite the psycho but the father is just as bad if not worse. Bryani raised Fury without hugs or sentiment. Once, he broke his arm and when another pack mate tried to hug him, Bryani told him not to and said that Fury was stupid for doing something that would break his arm.
His only friend was Angelia who had been orphaned when she was three. A pack of Katagaria went through her village and killed everyone. Her mother covered her in mud and hid her in the cellar but was killed herself. For this, Angelia hates all Katagaria.
Centuries later, Fury now lives with his brothers Vane and Fang along with Vane’s wife. Fury has a bad attitude and most people don’t like him much. His brother Fang, is in love with a were-bear but her family is dead-set against it. They own and run the Sanctuary, a paranormal bar and restaurant where any race, breed, god or demon is welcome as long as they don’t spill blood or expose themselves to humans…that is…expose their paranormal sides. Fang sends Fury to the Sanctuary, even though no one there really likes him, with a note to give to Aimee, the were-bear. He pretends he is there to see someone else.
While he is there, he learns that the Sanctuary doctor, Carson, has a Katagaria were-lion in the infirmary. He was running in his lion form out in the wild when a tessera (I haven’t quite figured out what that word means but I think it means a group of four soldiers) of Arcadians appeared and shot them with something. One lion was able to make it back to his pride and tell them what happened but he died just afterwards. The other lion, Jacob, is now stuck in lion form and unable to use any of his magickal powers. He also has lost his ability to communicate via telepathy as most Were-Hunters do.
Fury sniffs the lion so he can track the Arcadians who did this to him and he smells Angelia on the lion and an unknown jackal. Then all of the sudden, Angelia and Dare show up at the bar. They want to know where the lion is which pretty much convinces Fury of their guilt. Dare tries to shoot Fury but Fury tackles him to the ground so the shot went wild. All of the humans in the bar ran but the owners of the bar kicked Fury out. Outside, Dare and Angelia shock Fury with electricity. Electricity messes with Were-Hunters systems and magick. Then they slip a metriazo collar on him. The collar sends electrical pulses to the subject not allowing them to shift into animal form. They take him into the woods to their camp where Dare and the jackal, Oscar, torture him to find out about what happened to the lion.
Angelia doesn’t really like that they are torturing Fury but she believes in their cause so she puts up with it. They need to know if their weapon works against Katagaria. She believes all Katagaria are dangerous animals and the weapon would trap them into their animal form and strip them of their magic so they would not be dangerous any more. But in truth, most Katagaria aren’t dangerous unless provoked and they don’t do vengeance since that is a human trait. They attack only to protect their family and loved ones. Finally, when Dare and Oscar started using a hot poker on Fury, Angelia transported Fury away.
They end up at his brother’s house. Fury asks his brother not to let Angelia to leave but not to hurt her and then he collapses. He sleeps for a few hours to heal.
It is Thanksgiving Day which Angelia knows nothing about since she is from a different time period, Medieval England, and she goes into heat. There are many males in the house because it is a holiday so she is afraid they will attack her to have sex with her but Fury insists that she eat dinner with them. His two year old nephew is sitting with them at the table and all the males are polite. One of them tells her that he does know that she is in heat but they are respectful of women and would never hurt her.
At one point, Zarek shows up. Zarek is a really scary fellow. He’s a Dark-Hunter turned god. When Angelia tells Bride, Vane’s wife, about how Katagaria killed her family, Zarek said, “It makes you wonder what they did to provoke that attack.” Which made Angelia think a little. Then Bride tells her the story of why her family was attacked. They killed a bunch of pregnant Katagaria and their young for no reason and had kidnapped some of the pups and had them in cages so the Katagaria attacked them.
I have to stop there as not to spoil the story but I did end up kind of liking Angelia but not much. She must appear in other books because Sherrilyn’s website says that Bride introduced her to hair color and she loves to dye her hair different colors a lot. That didn’t happen in this story.
This story is #6 in Dark Bites but is #15.75 in the Dark-Hunter Series. It’s 15.75, not because it is any shorter than the rest of the novellas in Dark Bites but because there is another novella in between book #15 and #16 so I didn’t really know how to number them. Maybe I should change my numbering system to ‘a’ and ‘b’ instead of the fractions.