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Veil of Shadows

Veil of Shadows, September 2010
Shadows #2
by Shiloh Walker

Berkley Sensation
320 pages
ISBN: 0425236358
EAN: 9780425236352
Paperback
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"The second novel in this series is steaming hot, intelligent and extreme -- a must-read."

Fresh Fiction Review

Veil of Shadows
Shiloh Walker

Reviewed by Mandy Burns
Posted August 16, 2010

Paranormal Romance

Laisyn "Syn" Caar, second in command of the Rebel forces, is not looking forward to informing the refugees arriving in camp that after segregating those with military experience and magic talent, everyone else must move further east. They don't have enough resources to provide security while the civilians rebuild their homes. Syn must focus on minimizing the demons in the area and adding to the Rebel forces. Now that the gate is down, raids against women has diminished, but other evils must be faced and strangers must be recruited. One stranger has caught Syn's attention; she scans the crowd with a suspicious eye, taking in the camp. With the weapons the stranger carries, Syn is ready to challenge him to see if he can use those weapons.

Xan tells himself he is crazy for joining the Rebel forces but his reason are his own. A certain commander, Captain Caar, is sending all his senses in full turmoil, especially when she challenges him in the fighting ring. Xan doesn't believe woman should be allowed to fight at all, but Captain Caar gives him a direct order and proceeds to knock him to the mat. Since entering the camp, Xan has had a hard time taking his eyes off the mighty Captain Caar. She stirs feeling deep within that he didn't know he could feel. As the danger in the area escalates, so does his attraction; both Xan and Captain Caar do what they can to avoid the inevitable, but they are both in a strained situation.

The second novel in this series is steaming hot, intelligent and extreme. VEIL OF SHADOWS is a must-read book.

Learn more about Veil of Shadows

SUMMARY

A rebel army has been established to win back the land from demons-and a ne soldier named Xan has appeared out of nowhere to join them. Beautiful army captain Laisyn Caar is shocked by the powerful, all- consuming desire she feels in his presence, but when she discovers the dark secrets of Xan's agenda, she'll have to determine whether the man she's starting to love is a friend of her people- or a dreaded enemy.

Excerpt

"You playing today?" Kalen asked.

Syn lifted a shoulder. "Unless you plan to."

Bron went flying passed them—literally. He landed with an oomph and lay there for a few seconds, a dazed look in his eyes. His lean face went red as he tried to breathe.

Syn and Kalen grinned at each other. Then Kalen said, "I’ll pass. Lee and I are doing some hand-to-hand tonight. I’d rather not start off injured. I’ll let you have the fun today."

"Coward." Syn clucked her tongue. She watched, gauging the distance, as Xan started towards Bron. As he offered a hand to the other man, Syn moved.

She went for his feet and as he went down, she slid away.

It was like hitting a brick wall, she decided. A heated brick wall. She was so used to being cold, but the moment she touched him, even though her touch was an attack and not a caress, his heat chased away the chill and left her entire body suffused with warmth.

He was outweighed her, outreached her, and stood nearly a head taller than she did. Which pretty much described every sparring partner she’d ever had.

That unreadable gaze of his didn’t change, but she sensed some surprise coming off him as he came to his feet. Bron was up, too, and he moved so that he stood just a little behind Syn and off to the side. It was a choreographed move—they’d done this a thousand times and they’d do it a thousand more.

"So now it is two on one," Xan said, his voice emotionless.

"It can be a lot of fun." Syn flashed him a cheeky smile, keeping her weight on the balls of her feet. Her heart was racing. Her skin felt warm, edging close to hot as she waited.

Xan didn’t make a move towards her, even though she stood the closest. He circled around, trying to make for Bron. Even after he had Bron back down, he didn’t engage with her. Syn lifted a brow and asked, "You do have a second opponent you have to take down."

"I’m not putting a woman on the ground."

"Okay." It wasn’t the first time she’d been told that and she’d handle it the same way she handled it every other time. The cold knot tried to settle back inside her, but it faded when she attacked him—when she touched him.

He deflected her next attack. And the next. Bron was back on his feet at that point, though and as he moved towards him, Syn went for another takedown. He went down and as he did, he tried to catch her feet.

She was prepared for him, though, springing away at just the last second. Xan got back on his feet and this time, the look he shot her seemed a little bit perturbed.

"You can either spar me straight-on, or I’ll keep coming at your back."

"I’m not fighting with a woman."

"Then get out," she told him. She wasn’t touching him now and as she crossed her arms over her chest, the cold knot returned. "The gate’s that way. You can walk out now. If you move quickly enough, you can probably catch up to the convoy. But you don’t get to pick and choose your poison here, my friend. You do it my way or you hit the road."

His eye narrowed on her face. "You sound very certain of that fact."

"With good reason."

With the exception of Xan and Syn, everybody turned to look at Kalen as he entered the circle. He stood a few inches taller than Xan. He wore cavinir—a light, form- fitting armor that clung to a hard, leanly muscled body.

Kalen had been born a warrior, forced to become a leader. At a time when he should have been dreaming about girls and dreading his impending adulthood, he’d been on the front line of their war.

He circled to stand in front of Xan, pinning the other man with a cool silvery gaze. "Nobody stays in my camp without proving they can hold their own. Nobody stays in my camp without showing they know how to handle themselves, without showing they know how to take orders. That includes training—you either spar Captain Caar, as ordered, or you get the hell out."

"I don’t believe in harming women," Xan growled.

"It’s not about harming women." Syn moved between them and gave Kalen a narrow look. He inclined his head and fell back, letting her handle it. There was one thing she could rely on to chase away the chill, and that was anger. Right now, it flooded her and she welcomed it—welcomed it, channeled it.

Giving Xan a pointed stare, she said, "I’m not calling you on the floor to get hurt, Xan. Trust me, I don’t like pain, although I am used to it. But this isn’t about hurting me, hurting women. It’s called training—we all do it."

"Then train women against women. Females are naturally weaker than males—the risk for injury to the woman is too high, even in training."

"So this is about having a level playing field?" Syn snorted. "Sure, because we’re fighting a war where there’s always an excess of fairness."

Xan stared at her, his black gaze unflinching. "I do not raise my hand to women."

Syn smirked. "That’s a way of thinking that could end up with you getting hurt—in a serious way." She glanced over his shoulder and her smile took on a decidedly devilish twist. "Bron, you’re out. Elina. Coryan."

Elina Corsairs, long and lean, came at him from his right, a blur of movement. She was all speed and grace and as he moved to deflect her attack, the other woman came up behind him.

Coryan Holder stood at six feet and her body was nearly as broad as Xan’s. As he backed away from Elina, Coryan caught him in a wrestler’s hold and wrenched him off his feet. He went down and as one, the three women in the circle moved on him.

Elina ended up on her ass first. She would have moved back in but Syn caught her eye and shook her head.

Now facing Coryan and Syn, Xan grimaced. He looked between the two women, his gaze measuring.

Finally. Syn knew what sort of picture they presented. Coryan had the muscle mass to rival a man’s and her face was scarred, hardened from battle and years of a harsh life. Syn had faced that same hard life, and many of the same battles, but she was slender, not particularly tall and she looked…well, soft.

He’d go for Coryan next, she figured. Eliminate what he perceived as the biggest threat.

This wasn’t a new scenario for her. Too many of the men who wanted to join the rebellion showed up with preconceived notions—they were fighting a war against those that preyed on their females and having those females involved directly in the fight went against their baser instincts.

He feinted towards Coryan but at the last minute, he changed direction. Moving too damn fast, he came for Syn. Only one thing saved her—he wasn’t used to fighting somebody half his size. She darted away, relying on her flexibility and years of experience to evade him. It was close, though. She felt the disturbance in the air ripple against her flesh. He didn’t waste any time and came at her again, harder. Faster.

Syn took his legs out from under him, but he was prepared this time and when he went down, so did she. Trapped under his bigger body, she sucked air into her lungs.

Heat.

Once more, touching him flooded her with heat, heat that suffused every fiber of her being, chasing away the chill. For the briefest moment, they were close, close as lovers and she let herself revel in that heat, let herself feel his strength, feel all of him. But not enough…no where near enough.

Through their clothes, she could feel the heavy thud of his heart, beating so close to hers.

Then he spoke, and the spell shattered.

"This isn’t a fair fight," he said in a monotone.

Working her hands in between them, she jabbed at his neck. He went red and gasped for air. As he went to shove away from her, she caught him between his legs with her knee.

It was utterly silent, save for the strange, choked sound he made deep in his throat as he rolled to the side. Syn came to her feet and stood over him.

"You’re damn right it’s not a fair fight," she told him. "But then again, you can’t win a war, you can’t survive if you’re busy complaining about a fair fight."

She moved to the edge of the circle, watching Xan from under her lashes. He recovered quick, rolling to his feet and watching her with a mix of disbelief and anger. The anger melted away, replaced by that same measuring gaze he’d focused on every other fighter he’d met in the circle.

About damn time.


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