Shadows Series Books 1 & 2 by Brenda Cothern 1


 Born at the creation of time, the Soul Stealer feeds on the malevolent and immoral auras to survive. She has honed her skills by enticing her meals to lay with her. But by attracting the attention of a soulless life-drinker, her very
existence begins to change. But will she allow it?
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11346942-soul-stealer
Having read book five in the Shadows series first, I was excited to get the opportunity to go back and read the rest of the series. As the first book in the series, Soul Stealer sets the stage for the series as it introduces us to Alec and his night club, Shadows. Enough time has passed since I read Shattered Illusions that I didn’t remember right off who Alec and Kira were, which made reading Soul Stealer feel
exactly like I was delving into a brand new series for the first time. As Ms. Cothern has written the books as standalones, this feeling of newness remained with me the entire time and I must say that, as usual, it was an extremely enjoyable book for me.
I found Kira’s character absolutely fascinating. I wasn’t quite sure what she was in the beginning of the book and was rather stunned when Alec had the same lack of recognition as I did. Whereas my confusion was cleared up after her first feeding, Alec remained in the dark far longer. What surprised me was that even after he witnessed Kira feeding, he still didn’t know what she was. While Kira calls herself a Soul Stealer, the description of her feeding coincides with what I typically consider a succubus. However, her ability to detect auras and use them to choose her next “meal” and her behavior immediately after her feeding differ greatly from the succubus legends I am familiar with and made
her designation as a soul stealer feel like a more apt name. But what really surprised me was the connection between Kira – one who feeds off souls – and Alec – one who has no soul and who feeds off human blood. It would seem that the two would not be a good match as neither could feed the other, and yet the chemistry and physical connection between the two was IN. TENSE! Vampire sex is hot for the same reason M/M sex is – the participants tend to be equally matched in strength, which tends to lead to really aggressive sex. Yep, you guessed it. The sex between Alec and Kira is HOT! HARD! and deadly.
I must give Ms. Cothern serious kudos for writing in scenes from Kira’s past that added to the story rather than detracting from it. I tend to find such flashbacks disruptive to my reading flow and the storyline, yet in Soul Stealer this was not the case and I actually relished reliving parts of Kira’s life. Equally impressive was the extremely human nature of the conflict of the story that enabled Alec to work his way into Kira’s life, especially considering their non-human natures. As I expected, I was sucked right into the story and was glued to my Kindle until I reached the final page. Well done Ms. Cothern. I cannot wait to read When Beasts Bite next. 
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Jordy, manager at Shadows and Nick, Ex-Special Forces marine trainer, are best friends. Both are garouls.
Everything changed when they accidentally touched intimately; both enjoyed it. Neither will admit it. Jordy’s abducted and Nick must rescue him. Will he be able to make Jordy remember his humanity & love?
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11346943-when-beasts-bite
Another enjoyable installment in the Shadows series. In When Beasts Bite, we learn more about the  mysterious garouls, Nick and Jordy, and what was behind the anger we saw from Jordy in Soul Stealer. In Ms. Cothern’s supernatural world, garouls are what most of us refer to as shifters – which I figured out once Jordy shifted into his panther form and Nick became a wolf. Where Ms. Cothern’s garouls differ from most shifter books I’ve read is that they can become stuck in their animal form if they spend more than 24 hours in that state; while it’s not unheard of for shifters to go “feral,” embrace their inner animal, or whatever particular term is used to indicate that the individual is no longer able to return to their human form, 24 hours is the shortest period of time for permanency to set in that I’ve ever encountered, but it certainly ratcheted up the suspense factor of the book. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Nick and Jordy are best friends and have been pretty much since the moment they met five years earlier. I found Nick’s telling of their meeting rather interesting and would have loved to have heard the entire story of the events of that night. Because of their bond, we learn that they engage in ménages on a regular basis (2 or 3 times a week), but that there was never any sexual contact between them … until their last encounter three months ago. While we don’t get to sit in for that particular encounter (or any of their ménages = sad, sad me), the guys discuss it a couple of times once Nick realizes that it is at the heart of why Jordy began distancing himself from Nick. As the book is told from both characters’ points of view, it was easy to feel Jordy’s frustration as he struggled to come to terms with what it was about that encounter that was bothering him and Nick’s feeling of loss as his friend asked for space while he tried to figure it out.
The book really got interesting when Jordy took his need for space literally and headed out to his cabin in the middle of nowhere (i.e., a national park in Florida). Apparently it’s true even for garouls that distance makes the heart grow fonder and Jordy invites Nick out to the cabin so they can hash things out once and for all. When the men realize that they are not gay in the traditional sense but they are certainly gay for each other, the situation come to a head (pun intended) and things get hot and steamy real quick. Ultimately it is the bond of intimacy they forge that becomes Jordy’s only chance for survival when the outside suspense element is introduced. Ms. Cothern has crafted a novella that strikes the right balance of paranormal, suspense, and romance elements with hot M/M action in When Beasts Bite. Yet again, she has left me anticipating the next novel in the Shadow series, Barely  Restrained, where the even more elusive Roni’s secrets will be revealed. 

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