I’ve long been a fan of Dee Tenorio’s contemporary romances, but a few months ago I was surprised to see that she had published a paranormal romance, Tempting the Enemy. It was dark and sexy, so I was thrilled to see that on Monday she released a sequel, Deceiving the Protector. As with the first in the series, this book is action-packed and filled with suspense and sexual tension.
Deceiving the Protector picks up about a year after the end of Tempting the Enemy. The alpha Pale Rysen and his psychic Sibile mate Jade have set up a safe haven for the shifters in the mountains of Southern California. In the first book the shifters were under attack as they traveled on the underground, and now the shifters who are travelling to the safety promised by Resurrection are under attack from a new enemy, a serial killer who’s able to hide his scent. Deceiving the Protector focuses on the alpha’s adopted brother, Jensen Tate, who has been sent by the Sibile to protect a lone shifter, Aurelia (Lia) Crawford. While Lia needs Tate’s help, she’s also desperate to avoid him, because the serial killer has been following her every move, placing any shifters she meets on the underground in danger. If she accepts Tate’s help, she could be leading him straight to the killer. But Lia’s drawn to Tate’s stubborn (and I do mean stubborn) strength, and, in spite of Lia’s surly demeanor, Tate’s attracted to Lia’s fierce nature. The two must work together to free Lia from the killer while fighting their attraction to one another.
This is not a light-hearted read. It’s definitely a dark and violent world, and Ms. Tenorio does an outstanding job of creating a terrifying villain. We’re introduced to the killer, Asher, in the prologue, and his appearance is truly fearsome. He’s dressed completely in black, with a horrifying mask and strange lenses in place of eyes. What makes Asher all the more frightening is the group that backs him – the mysterious Shifter Control Task Force. We learn through intense flashbacks that Lia was captured by the human-run organization and horribly experimented on. The nauseating experiments and Lia’s sense of hopelessness give the novel a darker feel than was present in the first book.
The sexual tension between Tate and Lia is complicated by both Lia’s upbringing and her twisted relationship with the killer Asher. Lia’s parents raised her and her sister Laurel as humans in an attempt to avoid the death squads hunting shifters. Since the humans have been hunting shifters for over a century, many of the shifters’ customs have been lost, and Tate has to explain the differences between mating and bonding to Lia. Until he does, Lia fears that the Shifter Control Task Force has managed to pervert her wolf nature and forever connected her to the horrific Asher. Lia’s ignorance about other shifters and mating also leads to a few misunderstandings with Tate, but in a way her ignorance is an advantage, since the Shifter Control Task Force is unable to learn as much about shifters during her incarceration.
Despite these complications, their romance is smoldering, with both hero and heroine presenting tough exteriors that hide vulnerabilities. Lia has managed to escape from the human authorities twice, but she’s torn between her feelings toward Tate and Asher’s blackmail demands. Her memories of the torture sessions are presented as flashbacks throughout the novel, which increase the tension for the reader because you begin to realize the terror that awaits her should she be recaptured. Tate’s haunted by memories of a former lover who slaughtered members of his family, leaving him unwilling to open his heart to another. Just as their relationship begins to unfold and they start trusting each other, danger threatens their lives and their love, at times leaving you in doubt as to their happy ever after. The suspense is skillfully drawn out, and the mix of action and romance is just right.
Tenorio’s world of hunted shifters and psychic Sibiles is an original take on the paranormal romance, and this second installment of the series was well done, but I do have one small complaint. Tate is supposed to be a lawyer, but I’m not sure why any profession is attributed to him since it was completely inconsequential to the action of the novel or the development of the romance. At one point when he’s ignoring Lia she reminds him that as a lawyer he should be used to answering questions, but other than that, it seems unimportant. I kept expecting his job to play some role in how the story unfolds, but it really didn’t. Also, I had to wonder how he would be able to disappear from work at odd times to help investigate any problems in the shifter underground.
The ending of the novel is both haunting and hopeful, which is difficult to achieve. I loved it, and Ms. Tenorio has allowed room for future sequels while tying up loose ends in this book. Given the dark tone of this novel and the deft handling of the suspense and romance, I’m definitely looking forward to reading more about the shifters at Resurrection.
I received this book for review from the Publisher through NetGalley.