Unleash the Night (Dark-Hunter, Book 9)
This book focuses once again, on the Were-Hunters, in particular, a Katagaria male (part human/part animal), Wren Tigarian. He was ostracized as a child, by both of his parents, for being born half snow leopard and half white tiger, and ridiculed for the difficulties he had achieving and controlling his powers.
Orphaned as a teen (and under suspicion for the death of his parents), now a sullen young adult, he resides and works at “Sanctuary” (a bar/hostel where all “others” such as Weres, Dark Hunters and even Daimons can temporarily co-exist in peace). Living a childhood without substantial emotional connection, and being witness to a terrible violence, he has isolated himself, internalizing his turmoil, and does not communicate with anyone around him. While he associates with only a few people, he has forged a delicate friendship with the barkeeper’s daughter “Aimee”.
“Why are you being so nice to me?” None of the other bears have ever been really nice to him. most of them barely tolerated him.
But Aimee has always been kind.
She offered him a smile. “I like you, cub. I always have. I know you’re not dangerous…I mean, I know that you could kill us, that you are dangerous, but that you don’t pose an unfounded danger to anyone other than yourself.”
“But you still fear me.”
“Her eyes softened as she looked at him. “No. I fear for you, Wren. There’s a big difference.”
He frowned in confusion at her words.
She let out a tired breath. “You don’t like anyone around you, cub. I know you do inappropriate things just to make people leave you alone, and I fear what you will do one day that could cause the others here to turn on you permanently.”
One evening, while he is working, a group of human college students (from affluent upbringings), decide to visit Sanctuary, paying homage to their missing schoolmate “Nick (you know, our favorite Squire). Nick, being close to one, gentle soul, in particular (Marguerite D’Aubert Goudea – a senator’s daughter) had frequently mentioned Sanctuary and his friend “Wren” to her.
The males of the upper-class group become obnoxious, allowing their sense of self-importance to disparage the biker bar patrons. While Wren and Marguerite are particularly intrigued by each other, and try to ignore her despicable group, the males accompanying her belittle him and goad him into attacking them (unaware that they are literally poking a tiger). A fight breaks out, they are banned from the club, and Wren is lead away to be calmed before he tears into someone for real.
Over the course of the next few days, events occur that continually bring Maggie & Wren together (whether he is protecting her from a dark alley attack, her insistent visits to make sure he is ok, returning her forgotten backpack, to his sudden stint in jail, and her intention to bail him out).
While she fears what her father would say if he knew who she was frequenting…
“How much is the bail?”
“Seventy-five thousand dollars.”
Both she and her lawyer gaped.
That couldn’t be right, could it? “Are you serious?” she asked them.
“Yes, ma’am,” Marie said without hesitation. “He assaulted an officer.”
Marguerite was indignant on Wren’s behalf. “Not on purpose. he didn’t know it was an officer when he struck out.”
The male clerk scoffed at that. “Yeah, that’s what they all say.”
Marguerite felt ill and angry. She didn’t have that kind of money. At least not without going to her father, who would stroke if she told him why she wanted it.
“Hi Daddy, I met this man who is a busboy in a local biker bar and he needs to get out of jail…What did he do? Nothing much. Just assaulted an officer and Blaine. You remember Blaine, don’t you? His father is one of your major campaign contributors. But that’s okay, isn’t it? Wren’s a good guy. he even got shot when he kept me from being raped after I was down in the area of the Quarter where you told me not to go.
Daddy? Are you seizing? Should I get the pills for your heart?”
Oh yeah, that would go over well.
…the frequent discrimination from their entourage, conditions him into a persistent defensive demeanor, leading to more altercations that has Sanctuary in an uproar.
“She’s not allowed in.”
“Move away, Remi,” Wren said between clenched teeth.
“You know the rules.”
“Yeah, I know the rules. In the law of the jungle, the tiger eats the bear.”
Marguerite saw Aimee come up behind Remi. “It’s okay, Rem, let him pass.”
Remi sneered at her. “Have you lost your mind?”
Aimee pulled Remi back. “Come on in guys.”
Marguerite didn’t say anything as they headed up the stairs to Wren’s room.
“What was that about?” she asked as soon as he closed his bedroom door.
“Lo doesn’t like anyone in her house.”
“Oh I guess I should be going -”
Wren knew he shouldn’t ask that of her. He needed rest. Hell, he needed care. But none of that mattered. He just wanted to be with her for a little longer. The danger didn’t matter. Nothing did except being able to smell her. To see her.
To touch her.
Wren is eventually kicked out altogether (under the grounds that he is a deadly threat to the keepers and patrons).
While he is finally letting someone into his heart, they struggle to be together under difficult circumstances. While Wren tries to end things to keep Maggie safe…
“I’ll never forget you,” he breathed. He took her hand in his, then kissed her palm.
Then he left the car.
Marguerite rolled the passenger side window down.
He turned back toward her. “It’s over, Maggie. It has to be.”
… they find it impossible to stay away from each other.
“You left your wallet,” she said quickly, not wanting him to think that she was tracking him down. She took the wallet from the man she’d given it to and handed it to Wren. “I was just going to leave it for you.”
She started for the door.
“Wait,” Wren said, pulling her to a stop.
“Wait for what?” she said more harshly than she meant to. “I’m not a yo-yo, Wren. You made it clear that there’s nothing between us. I was – ”
He cut her words off with a scorching kiss. Marguerite actually moaned at the feral taste of him.
Even so, she pulled back. “This is cruel.” She saw the bitter longing in his eyes as he stared at her.
“Have you ever wanted something that you knew was bad for you? Something that you ached for so much that you could think of nothing else?”
With everything going against them, from Wren’s uncanny ability to find trouble, to being in a relationship that goes against the norm (for both involved)…
Nicolette sneered at the very thought. “It is unnatural for a Katagari to love a human. Not to mention, that woman,” she spat the word, “is death to all of us. Can you imagine what would happen if her father ever learned of us? We would be hunted and killed.”
…he soon realizes that he has even bigger problems when they uncover the truth about his past, along with the discovery that the council voted to capture and kill him once and for all.
While Maggie knows his kind and gentle heart, those around him let their prejudices guide them to hatred. Can they overcome the obstacles, and will he ever live in peace amongst his kind?
While I enjoyed this book, and the love scenes were, for lack of a better word, quite *steamy*, oddly enough, what struck me was the sudden turnaround in “Nicolette’s” demeanor and resistance in her role as Sanctuary keeper (and the disdain, instead of empathy, for someone whom she had sheltered since he was a child). While in past installments, I believed her “mama bear” protection was genuine for all those who entered her abode, this side of her presented, left me bewildered. Now I am wondering what her story is going to be…