Opening Line: “It started as it always did, with a gust of cold Himalayan air striking Karen Sonnet’s face.”
I’ve had this one sitting on my TBR shelf for a couple years now and in saying that I wish I’d found the time to read it back then because my tastes have changed and this just didn't do it for me now. Granted I read it as a standalone, but I don’t feel like I missed too much there. The hero is the ultimate bad boy; cursed, violent and seducing woman at will and the love scenes are pretty hot, in a bodice ripper (un PC) sort of way.
I really did enjoy the first half of the book, which takes place in the Himalayas at the foot of Mt Anaya between Nepal and Tibet. This was a different setting and a fun literary vacation. Our heroine Karen is overseeing the construction of a resort catering to climbers and trekkers looking for the ultimate challenge. She is struggling to prove herself to her father, doing what is considered a man’s job in this part of the world. The mountain is also meant to be alive, so it is spoken about in hushed tones and there is always discontent among the native workers.
This might be why she allows her mysterious dream lover to come into her tent and do delicious things to her body on such a regular basis. Girl needs a release. As the construction progresses the mountain strikes back with a rock slide. Karen is rescued by her (as it turns out) very real dream lover and he, for whatever reason decides to kidnap her.
“He” is Adrik Varinski aka ‘Warlord’, leader of a band of mercenaries fighting the Chinese army. He is also a shape shifting panther, cursed or gifted with this ability by a pact made by some ancient ancestor. Warlord is not a very nice guy but he does have it bad for Karen. Holding her captive and placing slave bracelets on her wrists is probably not the right way to go about things though. When their camp is attacked Warlord is forced to release Karen but not before vowing that he will find her again.
And that was when the book kind of lost me because when we pick up two years later it’s like a different story altogether. Karen is now working at a posh hotel and seems to have been able to put her traumatic experience behind her. And while she hasn’t had a lover since Nepal there is something about this man Rick Wilder, staying at the hotel for a conference that might just change that. He of course turns out to be Warlord (how she didn’t recognize him I have no idea) and from there the book goes deep into paranormal territory with curses and amulets, giant venom spitting snakes, shape shifting eagles, wolves, a plane crash. It was all a bit OTT for me.