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Tall, Dark and Wolfish

Tall, Dark and Wolfish, May 2010
Westfield Lycans #2
by Lydia Dare

Sourcebooks Casablanca
Featuring: Benjamin Westfield; Elspeth Campbell
416 pages
ISBN: 1402236956
EAN: 9781402236952
Mass Market Paperback
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"Another amusing and intriguing tale of the Westfield Lycans."

Fresh Fiction Review

Tall, Dark and Wolfish
Lydia Dare

Reviewed by Vicky Gilpin
Posted April 19, 2010

Romance Historical | Romance Paranormal

When people are ill, they go to some sort of medical practitioner for help. However, Lord Benjamin Westfield needs a particular type of assistance that can't be found in a medical facility. He is a Lycan, and after a traumatic event, he no longer changes into a wolf during the full moon.

After being sent on a trip to Scotland to find a healer who can supposedly remedy such conditions, Ben has to confront the local coven of witches. Lovely Elspeth Campbell bewitches him with no need for potions and portents; her lovely accent, brash manner in the face of adversity and silken red hair do all the work. However, he not only has to find a way to be a whole Lycan again, he has to fight the protestations of Elspeth's coven-sisters who do not want to lose her to such a beast.

A fun romp of a book, Lydia Dare continues to amuse and intrigue with her tales of the Westfield Lycans.

Learn more about Tall, Dark and Wolfish

SUMMARY

The reckless, rakish younger brother of a powerful duke, Lord Benjamin Westfield transforms into a wolf under the light of the full moon—until one fateful evening when he doesn't change and his life is shattered. Fearing he may never be able to change again, Benjamin sets out for Scotland in search of a witch who can heal his inner beast. The noble werewolf is drawn to the beautiful young woman, but what does he have to offer in this broken state?

Excerpt

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh – July 1816

If Elspeth Campbell revealed how much she wanted to leave the cold damp cave, her coven sisters would surely think she was mad. She fought the shiver that threatened as her plaid slipped from her shoulder and tried to close her eyes and mind to the chilly Scottish air. She couldn’t pull the plaid back into place until the ceremony was over.

They were meeting earlier than scheduled, as Caitrin foresaw trouble on the horizon for the Còig, though she hadn’t revealed her fears to them yet. Truthfully, Elspeth didn’t think Caitrin knew. They all knew the visions were the most clear for their seer when the five of them were together.

To her right, Rhiannon tightened her grasp on Elspeth’s hand and Sorcha and Blaire closed the space between them, which tightened the ring of four around Caitrin. In the middle of their circle, the seer’s eyes were closed, her hands stretched toward the heavens.

Caitrin hummed an ancient melody, passed from one generation of Còig witches to the next. Then she stopped and all was quiet in the cold, damp cave. Elspeth could only hear the drumming of her own heart and Sorcha’s rapid breathing to her left.

"I see a handsome man," Caitrin began softly. Her lilting voice echoed off the dark cavern walls.

"I’d like to see one of those," Sorcha giggled.

The murderous look Rhiannon shot the youngest witch prevented any more levity from entering their circle.

"He bears the mark of the beast," Caitrin continued as though she’d never been interrupted.

Chills shot down Elspeth’s spine, which had nothing to do with the loss of her plaid or the cool air in the cave. The mark of the beast. She’d heard those words her entire life.

"He will disrupt us. He will try to take Elspeth from our circle."

Suddenly Elspeth had three sets of eyes on her. It would have been four, but Caitrin’s were still closed as the vision played out in her mind.

"The beast canna be allowed to break our coven. Disaster will fall if he succeeds." Caitrin’s haunting blue eyes opened and she focused them on Elspeth.

Sucking in a surprised breath, Elspeth tried to snatch her hands back from Rhiannon and Sorcha, but their hold tightened. Her heart pounded faster and she felt certain she would faint.

Caitrin stepped forward and touched her fingers to Elspeth’s brow. "Do ya ken the man I speak of, El?"

A nervous laugh escaped her throat and she nodded. She’d never thought he’d actually come for her. After all, he’d abandoned her mother long before she was born. "My father," she whispered.

Though Elspeth had never met the man, she knew he wore the mark of the beast. So it must be him. Who else would try to take her from her coven?

Caitrin’s brow furrowed. "He felt younger than that."

Elspeth shook her head. "I dinna ken another man with the mark, Cait."

Finally the seer nodded. "Very well. Ya must be diligent. He canna be allowed to take you from us. The future of the Còig depends upon it."

Elspeth nodded. She’d never known Caitrin’s visions to be wrong but, in her twenty-one years, her father had never come for her. It didn’t seem likely he would suddenly show interest in her well- being. "I will be careful."

***

At the same time in London…

Rain poured over the brim of Lord Benjamin Westfield’s beaver hat. He stepped out of the darkness and crossed the threshold of Canis House, the exclusive social club to which he belonged. He handed his drenched greatcoat and ruined hat to the awaiting footman and walked into the warm light of the drawing room.

Ben glanced around at the other members, searching the faces for his older brothers. They weren’t there. Thank God! He didn’t think he could put on a cheerful face tonight, and they would most certainly see through his dark mood.

"Is the Duke of Blackmoor here this evening?" he asked the footman just to be certain.

The man shook his head. "I have not seen His Grace. However, Lord William was here, my lord."

Ben looked around the room once more. He didn’t see Will. If he was quick, he could leave before his brother ever knew he was here. "And Major Forster?"

The footman gestured toward the back of the drawing room. "At his usual table, my lord."

Ben took the first relieved breath he’d had in days, hopeful the major could help him. He thanked the footman and then crossed the room to where his father’s oldest friend sat in a dark corner, sipping whisky. "Am I interrupting?"

Major Desmond Forster’s dark eyes twinkled as he looked up from his drink. "Ah, Benjamin. It’s been an age. Please, please." He gestured toward an empty chair at his table. "To what do I owe this honor?"

Ben swallowed. It wasn’t something he could just blurt out. In fact, now that he was here, he didn’t know what to say to Forster at all. "I, uh, could use your counsel, sir."

"My counsel?" The old man leaned back in his seat and grinned. "I am flattered. I thought you generally sought out Blackmoor."

Usually he did. But this wasn’t something he could discuss with his brother, neither of them. In fact, keeping Simon and Will from learning his secret was of the utmost importance. Ben took a deep breath and leaned in close over the table. "I’m in trouble, Major."

The man’s smile vanished instantly. "What sort of trouble, Benjamin?"

He held tightly to the table and willed the words out of his mouth. "I didn’t change."

"You didn’t change?" the officer echoed.

"With the full moon last night," he explained. "I. Didn’t. Change."

For the first time in his life as a Lycan man, Benjamin Westfield hadn’t sprouted a tail, long snout, or paws. He’d sought the moon the same way he always did, this time in a clearing in the woods, for his transformation. But last night, nothing happened. A moonbeam touched him, but the change that was so much a part of him didn’t come and he’d stood there for an eternity waiting and wondering why he was broken.

Major Forster’s face drained of its color and his mouth fell open. "You didn’t change?" he repeated, this time soto voce, with a world of meaning in his words.

Ben shook his head. "Do you know why?"

"Benjamin, we always change."

"Well, not me. Not last night."

The major motioned for two more glasses. "What happened?"

"Nothing happened. The moon hit me like it always does. But I didn’t feel the pain, nor the joy, of changing. Nothing happened at all."

Major Forster scratched his head. "Prior to last night, did you feel the same call of the moon in the days leading up to the moonful?" He pushed a glass of whisky toward Ben with the tips of his fingers.

Ben sighed. Now that he mentioned it, he really hadn’t felt the same call. He hadn’t been lusty or angry or felt the need to withdraw. But he hadn’t really paid it much attention. Changing was as natural to him as breathing. It had been a part of him for fourteen of his twenty six years, since adolescence.

Ben could only shake his head in dismay as he slumped in the chair. "No. I don’t believe I did."

"Do you believe this has anything to do with that little incident in Brighton last month?" Major Forster raised one eyebrow.

Ben’s eyes shot up quickly to meet the man’s. "How did you know about that?"

"News travels quickly in our circle, Benjamin."

"I didn’t mean to hurt her," Ben mumbled.

"We never do," the major said as he clapped a hand to Ben’s shoulder. "What did Blackmoor have to say about it?"

Ben exhaled loudly and shook his head. "What didn’t he have to say about it?" he breathed.

"That bad, huh?"

"Worse," Ben admitted.

"Those of our kind have to be aware of our strength as the moon grows fuller. And our lust." His eyes narrowed as he regarded Ben.

"I know. Believe me, I have heard it all from Simon. You can’t be with a woman that close to the phase of the moon. You could get out of control. How many times do I have to tell you? Now look what happened!" He mocked his oldest brother’s tone.

Major Forster chuckled.

"The woman was just scared. Really scared. Who would have thought that a whore would have been so squeamish?"

"Blackmoor, obviously."

Ben finally took a sip of his whisky and appreciated the way it made his eyes water. At least he felt something, then. "I went to see the woman after the full moon. She’s doing just fine. She actually apologized to me for screaming loud enough to call the watch."

"What did you learn from that experience?" the major asked.

"That I can’t control the beast when it’s that close to the full moon. I thought I could." He waved a hand in the air. "Other Lycans control themselves with women. They get along beautifully together."

"You will learn more about the type of relationship they have when you meet your own mate, my boy."

"But what do I do about not changing? I think I’m broken. I need to go back."

"There’s only one way to go back," Major Forster mumbled as he scrubbed a hand across his mouth.

"Pardon?"

The Major coughed into his hand. "There’s only one person who can help you." The major stopped talking and fixed his stare on his glass of whisky. Ben watched him for a moment.

"Major?" he finally prompted him.

The man finally tore his gaze from the glass. "Yes?" he asked, obviously distracted by his own thoughts.

"You were going to tell me how to fix it."

"Oh, yes." The man sat forward. "You must find a healer."

"A what?"

"A healer," the major repeated.

"You mean a witch?" Ben fought back a hysterical laugh. He’d come to his father’s old friend for guidance, and he was going to send him to find a fabled creature that didn’t exist. Oh, life was not working in his favor.

"A witch. A healer. Call it what you will. But you must find one."

"Everyone knows that witches are the things of legends and myths."

"As are we, my boy. As are we. But you can take my word for it, Benjamin. They do exist."


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