Author: Lynne Connolly
Publisher: Loose Id
Rating: 4 stars
Type: Novel in Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Kristen Lowe has one last chance to fulfill her dream of becoming a prima ballerina. But on her way to the audition, she’s trapped in a snowstorm and takes shelter at a house on the road. The owner, Nathan Beaumont, runs Maskerade, a nightclub specializing in dance but he doesn’t tell Kristin that. The two spend a passionate night together and then part ways, not expecting to see each other again.
When fate brings them back together, Kristen finds herself with a new dance partner, and a new lover. But being the owner of Maskerade isn’t the only secret Nathan has been keeping from her. He’s dragon shape-shifter. With his powerful enemies closing in on them, it won’t be long until she finds out.
Review: Lynne Connolly has long been a favorite author of mine for her sexy historical romantic suspense novels. They are authentic and exciting, enveloping you quickly in another world where intrigue, handsome dark men, and rapturous sex appear like magic. I knew that she also wrote paranormal, and the intriguing way that she melds her romantic suspense sensibilities with contemporary world-building takes this urban fantasy series to another level.
Kristen Lowe is a not-so-young-anymore ballerina who is trying to get that last chance, that last audition for the big time. She travels to Chicago for an audition in the corps de ballet of a well known company, but on the way her car stalls out on the highway somewhere in the wilds of Michigan. She’s forced to abandon it and search for shelter at the nearest residence she can remember passing. It’s a huge estate, and they nearly don’t answer. Luckily, however, they finally let her in. A good thing too, since it’s virtually the storm of the century outside. Snow is piling up and she’s quickly becoming frostbitten or worse.
Nathan Beaumont was born in 1793, which makes him an over two-hundred year old dragon-shifter who works as an agent for the Thorndykes. In this world, shifters and other paranormals are called Talents and the Thorndyke family had formed an organization that helps Talents start new lives or spirits them out of danger if they need help. After being left by his parents at thirty-two, fighting as a soldier, and left reeling from a betrayal from a lover that lost people their lives fifteen years earlier, Nathan had found another reason to live by helping others in his world. His good friend Dalton Thorndyke had convinced him to help, and they worked well together. They were meeting at his remote estate to discuss details of events that had occurred recently in the organization.
So when Kristen arrives unexpectedly, Nathan immediately thinks she might be a plant from PHR (Perfect Human Race), another organization that is determined to destroy all of the Talents. He tries to read her mind but finds a block, which intrigues him and makes him more suspicious at the same time. While taking off her shoes he notices her feet, which are obviously those of a professional dancer. Over the centuries, dancing has frequently been Nathan’s cover, and he currently owns a burlesque/dance club in Chicago called Maskerade. He wonders if she’s a dancer trying to get an impromptu audition via the casting couch. Uncovering her identity and trying to discover if her intent is malicious or innocent becomes his focus over the course of the evening–which ends with a snowy, naked encounter on the balcony. Because my friend Lynne can deliver with the sexy times! Yes!
Suffice it to say they become an item while they’re snowed in, and when they arrive in Chicago via helicopter, Kristen, Nathan and Dalton go to the posh splendor of a luxury building of apartments in Chicago’s nicest neighborhood. She bids them goodbye and goes to her audition, which doesn’t work out. Walking down the street toward her brother Stuart’s place of employment, she passes a dance place called Maskerade that’s holding auditions. It looks like a strip club. But tempted by the thought of at least having a job in dance, she auditions and gets a job. She doesn’t realize until the end that Nathan is there, during the audition. It made her very uncomfortable because while they were at the mansion, she’d overheard Nathan telling Dalton about his concerns that she was a dancer trying to get to him since he owned the club. So she’d fabricated a conversation on her dead cell phone that Nathan would overhear, pretending to be a famous ballerina. Now she’s worried that Nathan heard her and she got the job based on that erroneous piece of information. But how to tell him?
Secrets. Everybody’s got secrets in this book. Nathan hasn’t told Kristen that he loves her and that he can make her a dragon-shifter too. Kristen still hasn’t told him that she loves him and that she’s not really the famous dancer Isadora Bennett. And Stuart is too mind-controlled by the owner of Vampire Heaven, PHR leader Trent De’Ath, to know what he’s told or not told. But he’s up for a betrayal… but that would be telling.