New York Times best-selling paranormal romance author Felicity Heaton is here today for the book tour for Stolen by her Bear, the first book in her brand new bear shifter romance series, Black Ridge Bears! The Black Ridge Bears series is all about the growly neighbours of the shifters in the Cougar Creek Mates series and is part of the Eternal Mates world. You can find out more about the world at http://www.felicityheaton.com/
If you love sizzling shifter romances featuring hot alpha heroes and strong heroines bringing them to their knees then this series is definitely for you. Plus, each book has a happily forever after and there are no cliff-hangers, because there’s nothing worse than a cliff-hanger!
by Felicity Heaton
Saint is a bear shifter on the war path. He just wants to sleep the winter away, but his rowdy neighbours in the remote Rocky Mountains valley have other plans. When the cougar shifter brothers refuse to keep the noise down, he reacts on instinct, kidnapping a beautiful female who smells like sweet berries and tempts him like no other—a female who happens to be mated to one of the brothers.
Holly’s first taste of freedom isn’t going as planned. Escaping her family to join in the winter wedding celebrations at Cougar Creek with her friend Ember sounded fantastic, until a grouchy bear shifter grabs her—a gorgeous male who rouses instincts in her that are startling and powerful, igniting a fierce need to growl and stake a claim on him. A gorgeous bear who might be her fated mate.
Can Holly resist the hungers Saint awakens in her? And when Saint realises his mistake about her identity, can he convince the stunning Holly to give him a second chance?
Saint turned his frown on the snow that reached almost as high as the deck, had to be at least three feet deep where it had accumulated against the underside of his raised cabin. His gaze tracked across the undulating snow that stretched between him and the thick forest of lodgepole pines and spruces.
This was going to be one shitty walk.
Putting it off wasn’t going to make it any nicer though, or make his mood any better.
He wasn’t the only grouchy bear on the property either. He glanced to his right at Knox and Lowe, could see by their faces they were as pissed as he was by the disturbance. Having the three of them tired and grumpy would only make all of them worse in the long run, would bring out the bear in them and cause them to bicker and fight, destroying the peace they normally enjoyed. So as much as he despised the thought of dropping down into three feet of snow, he was going to have to do it.
Gods, he was glad Rune and Maverick had gone to Vancouver for winter as they always did, the two of them travelling to a bolthole they shared there. Neither of them was the sort of bear to sleep the months away, preferred to be awake through winter, but like him, they didn’t like snow. Saint had once made the mistake of convincing them to stay at Black Ridge for winter, had denied the urge to sleep so he could stay awake with them.
It hadn’t gone well.
They had made it to December before Rune and Maverick had gotten into a brawl so bad he had feared they would kill each other, and then all three of them had holed up in their individual cabins until the snowmelt. It had been the longest damned winter of Saint’s life. He hadn’t been able to sleep, had stayed awake to make sure Rune and Maverick made it to spring.
He scrubbed a hand over his beard, hoping like hell things didn’t end up that bad this time. If they couldn’t get back to sleep, ended up having to stay awake, then he wasn’t sure he would be able to keep his cool and smooth the edge of his own mood to maintain order within their makeshift pride.
As it was, he was itching for a fight.
If Knox or Lowe tried to start anything, just looked at him the wrong way, he was liable to blow his top.
Knox kicked the snow off his deck, grumbling, “I’m tempted to go deal with whoever is making all that noise.”
“Rein it in, or I’ll be tempted to deal with you,” Lowe muttered as he finished pushing the last of the snow off his own deck, piling it up around the thick wooden pylons that raised the cabin off the ground.
It wasn’t like the usually laid-back Lowe to be grumpy. Normally, the ash-blond bear took things as they came, rolling with whatever life threw at him without worrying too much. Saint blamed Knox’s mood. It was his brother’s agitation that had Lowe on edge too.
Lowe always got like this whenever Knox was fired up, felt a need to weigh in and have his twin’s back.
“I’ll go see what the deal is.” Saint turned away from them and murmured under his breath, “Just got to get through this crap first.”
He huffed and took the first step down from his deck, forced himself to keep going when the next one was hidden by snow. His pride needed him to do something, and he would do it. He would make the cougars shut up so he and his kin could get back to sleep, and when he woke, all the snow would be gone.
He held on to that fantasy, filling his mind with images of green grass and warm sunshine as he trudged down the steps. It shattered as he fumbled for the final step and slipped, had to grab the railing behind him and brace himself to avoid falling on his backside.
Saint growled as he pushed away from the steps and waded through the deep snow, heading for the forest that would lead him to Cougar Creek. He glared at the field of white as it sparkled, the weak sunlight reflecting off it enough to almost blind him. As it was, it made his eyes water again, and that moisture felt as if it was turning to ice in his eyes.
There was nothing magical about winter.
He huffed and snarled as he pushed forwards, ploughing a path through the snow. At least he wouldn’t get as cold and damp on the way back, after he was done murdering whoever had woken him and his kin.
If he somehow managed to rein in the urge to spill blood, maybe the fresh air and struggling through the snow would tire him out enough that he could sleep when he got back to his cabin.
He finally reached the dense forest, where most of the snow clung to the branches of the pines and firs, keeping the amount on the ground down to less than a foot. He picked his way through the fresh snow, careful not to snag his boot on a root or rock because falling flat on his face in the snow would probably be the match that lit the fuse of his temper.
Saint breathed a little easier as he reached an animal track, a path through the forest that had been kept clear of snow by the constant back and forth of the local ungulates. His muscles began to relax, the tension that had stiffened them during the walk through the icy snow fading as he picked up pace.
When he neared the invisible boundary between Cougar Creek and Black Ridge, he slowed and fell silent, his breathing levelling out as he moved with stealth into the trees, veering off the track. His ears twitched as he listened, the only sound that of distant birdsong and animals moving through the trees. No laughter. No voices.
His breath fogged in the air as he slipped from tree to tree, peering ahead of him through the trunks and low branches and the scrub, seeking a sign of life as he drew closer to Cougar Creek. His palms began to sweat as his heart drummed a faster, harder rhythm against his ribs, as he honed his senses and searched for danger, in case it was hunters who had come to the cougar territory and they were the ones laughing.
Overjoyed by capturing or killing a shifter.
He spat on the ground, cursing the hunters. They had taken too many from his kin.
Had taken too much from him.
He had barely matured, had only just passed a century old when the mortal hunter organisation Archangel had executed a raid on a nearby underground fae town. His parents had been there, had tried to escape and hadn’t made it out alive.
Last year, a helicopter had circled over Black Ridge, heading back to Cougar Creek, and Saint had heard the distant gunfire. Part of him had wanted to go and check it out, to see if Rath needed help.
The rest, the alpha in him, had made him stay at Black Ridge in case there were more hunters in the forests and his pride needed him.
He tipped his head up and dragged in a slow, deep breath as he pushed those memories aside, focusing on the present in case it was hunters. He couldn’t let himself get swept up in the past, had to stay alert and aware of his surroundings and any danger that might be lying in wait for him.
Saint scented the air, trying to catch something that would tell him what to expect ahead of him.
He froze, locked up tight as he caught a scent, as warmth spread through him in response, roused a hunger in him that was powerful and commanding.
He dragged in another breath, aching for another delectable hit of that scent. And it was delectable, like sweet berries, and utterly feminine.
Which was enough to set him on edge.
Females didn’t stay at Cougar Creek in winter.
Saint veered off course again, unable to stop himself from tracking the scent through the forest, curiosity gripping him and filling him with a need to find the owner of it. His mouth watered, the hunger clenching his gut growing fiercer as the scent grew stronger. Ahead of him, the bushes and trees gave way to man-made clearings, openings in the forest where small cabins had been constructed.
He stealthily inspected the two cabins he could see, keeping his distance from them. Snow had fallen through the canopy of the forest and was thick on their roofs, and it was pristine on the decks, untouched. No one was staying in them.
Saint banked left, heading down towards the river, to a cabin he knew was there. The raised L-shaped wooden lodge sat at the head of a fifty-foot clearing in the forest, one that stretched down to the creek.
He remained in the shadows of the trees as he moved towards that river, giving the place a wide berth. He eyed the deck and the steps and the ground just beyond them. Someone had cleared the snow away. The place belonged to one of the three brothers of Rath, the alpha of the pride, and it was usually empty over winter.
Looked as if the male was staying this time.
Was he responsible for the ruckus that had woken Saint and his kin?
He sharpened his instincts again and frowned as he sensed more than just Rath and one brother at the Creek. He pinpointed at least five other people, most of them close to the main clearing. One of them was bound to be the female Rath had mated with last year, one Saint had seen for himself a few times.
He thought her name was Ivy, was sure he had heard the alpha cougar call her that a few times when she had been photographing bears near the river. The female was human, and not the only one at the Creek either.
The bastard Storm had a human female of his own. Saint had caught her in the woods last year when she had been running from the male and had scared her witless. He regretted what had happened now, but he had been in a foul mood, his bear at the fore. Their run-in had happened only a week after the Archangel helicopter had come and the need to protect his kin had been strong, fierce enough that he had viewed her as a threat.
Saint had figured Gabi for a huntress, still thought she was a member of Archangel and one day Storm was going to wake up to find a blade in his heart.
He backtracked up to the two empty cabins and headed past them into another area of dense scrub that provided cover as he moved towards the heart of Cougar Creek.
His ears twitched.
He eased lower and peered through the bushes and trees towards the clearing. Stilled as he spotted two males and a female in an area that had been cleared of snow near the top of the long sloping strip of green that formed the centre of the cougar’s territory. The felines had been busy. It looked as if they had cleared snow in a patch roughly sixty feet in all directions from the front of Rath’s cabin. That cabin sat nestled among the pines and spruces, its back to the forest that covered the base of the mountain, facing the clearing and the creek at the bottom of it.
What were they up to?
Rath straightened and planted the tip of his snow shovel against the ground, leaned on the handle of it as he pushed his thick black hat up and wiped his brow. He pulled his dark green scarf down and undid the top fastening of his black winter jacket.
“We taking a break now?” the male with him growled, a hint of warmth and teasing in his tone as he set down his own shovel and tugged at the blue scarf wrapped around his throat. Like Rath, he wore a black protective coat and matching hat, and irritatingly kept his back to Saint so he couldn’t make out which brother he was. “Only been at it an hour. Still a lot more snow to clear.”
Rath huffed and scrubbed a hand down his face, over a thick dark beard. “Remind me again why we’re doing this.”
The big male chuckled, the warmth in his voice lingering. “Love, apparently. Not sure why I got pulled into shovelling duties though. Storm should be here, clearing the way for this ceremony. Where is he anyway?”
This time, Rath was the one who chuckled, his grey eyes brightening with it. “Where do you think?”
The male shook his head. “I have half a mind to go bang down his door, but I don’t want to get an eyeful. Flint could at least have offered to help, but he’s about as useful as Storm.”
Flint and Storm weren’t present then, which meant the big male with Rath was Cobalt. Cobalt was a mad bastard. Saint had never seen a cougar fight like he did, as if he had nothing left to live for.
Rath and Cobalt were as big as each other, packed with muscle and good fighters, but if it came to a one-on-one fight, Saint could take them. Provided they didn’t resort to low blows like their brother Flint.
He shuddered at the memory, his balls aching. It had taken him weeks to heal them after the male had run his claws over them during a brawl. He still hadn’t forgiven the cougar, wanted a piece of him, and Storm, for the scars they had given him. A low growl curled up his throat, his blood running hot despite the cold, and he wanted to unleash it but bit it back instead. As much as he wanted a fight, he wanted to sleep more.
Besides, he couldn’t let his foul mood get him into a brawl right now when his body was still recovering from a month-long sleep. He would probably lose and that would only make his mood worse.
Saint drew down a steadying breath and stilled as the delicious scent of berries hit him again. It was weaker now, but still warmed him, roused a hunger to hunt the owner of that scent and see her for himself.
The door of the cabin behind Rath opened and a female came out, wrapped so heavily in winter clothing that he couldn’t make out much of her face between her colourful striped scarf and woollen hat, or her figure through the thick cream coat and brown ski pants.
He knew her scent though.
In fact, he knew most of the scents of the females belonging to the brothers. He had put Gabi’s scent to memory when he had captured her, and he had done the same with Yasmin’s when Flint had come to Black Ridge looking for a fight in order to impress her.
Maybe he had imagined the sweet scent in the woods.
Berries were his vice after all.
He loved them and found them impossible to resist.
“Come warm up for a few minutes.” She looked at her mate and then at Cobalt.
Both males nodded and let their shovels fall into the thin layer of snow, and Rath waited for Cobalt to reach him before they both started towards the cabin.
“Does Ember want to drop in for a warming drink too?” Ivy said with a look at Cobalt.
Ember. Saint wasn’t familiar with that female.
“She went for a walk.” Cobalt tugged his black hat off, revealing mussed blond hair. “But she’ll be back in time for the practice run.”
Rath glanced at his brother. “Did your certificate come through?”
“Yup. I’m officially ordained.” Cobalt flashed a grin at him and chuckled. “That’s not something I ever thought I would be. Not many cougars out there needing this sort of thing.”
Saint watched them go inside, debated going to the cabin and speaking to Rath, but fatigue was rolling up on him, his eyelids feeling heavy again as the fresh air lost its effect on him and his bear instincts growled at him to go back to sleep. He knew what the noise was now. It wasn’t humans or danger, just a bunch of irritating cougars celebrating something. That should be enough to calm the instinct to protect himself and his pride, and allow all of them to get back to sleep.
He rose to his feet and turned away from the cabin, picked his way to the animal track and followed it back towards the Ridge. Maybe he would fix himself some food before he hit the sack again, something to take the edge off his hunger and tide him over while he slept. He was clearly hungry.
Because he was fantasising about sweet juicy summer berries again.
Could smell them stronger now.
He frowned and slowed his pace, lifted his head and drew down a breath. The scent was stronger. His mouth watered, heat suffusing him, and he pivoted on his heel, was tracking the smell of berries before he realised what he was doing.
Saint dropped to his haunches when he spotted a lone figure ahead of him, near the frozen river.
He dragged down a breath, every inch of him locking up tight as he caught her scent.
Sweet berries and a hint of vanilla.
He scented something else on her too. She was cougar. Was she Ember? Did she belong to Cobalt?
Saint told himself to go, but found himself easing lower instead to observe her. Silent. A predator.
She tilted her head up as she turned, raised her gloved hand to cover her eyes as she peered at the canopy. Birds sang there but he paid them no heed, was too arrested by the sight of her.
Raven hair spilled from beneath her dark purple woollen hat, cascading over a form-fitting weatherproof coat in the same colour, and grey eyes with a strong hint of emerald sparkled as rosy lips curled into the semblance of a smile.
His heart started at a hard pace, drumming against his ribs as his blood heated.
She was beautiful.
A need to stand and go to her pounded inside him and he struggled to deny it, to remain where he was and merely observe her, studying everything about her. Like the fact she had to stand at least a foot shorter than his six-seven, and looked as if she weighed nothing more than a feather. There was a delicate sense of beauty about her, with her porcelain skin and the hint of pink on her cheeks, and he lost himself in watching her, the world around him fading away.
Until there was only her.
Her slender shoulders suddenly stiffened, her smile disappearing as she tensed and went still.
She had sensed him.
Saint lingered, wondering what she would do. Run away or stay?
Seconds seemed to stretch into an eternity as he waited, as her grey-green eyes slowly took in the forest.
Strange disappointment flooded him when she suddenly turned on her heel and walked in the direction of Cougar Creek, her pace brisk, boots chewing up the frozen ground beneath the pines.
Saint stared after her.
Driven to follow.
Book 5: Awakened by her Bear – Pre-order Now
Felicity Heaton is a New York Times and USA Today international best-selling author writing passionate paranormal romance books. In her books, she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons! If you're a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.
If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, the best-selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series or any of her stand-alone vampire romance books. If you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try the best-selling London Vampires series. Seven sexy and sinful Greek god brothers can be your new addiction in the Guardians of Hades series. Or how about four hot alpha shifter brothers in her Cougar Creek Mates series? Or if you prefer huge detailed worlds filled with hot-blooded alpha males in every species, from elves to demons to dragons to shifters and angels, then take a look at the Eternal Mates series.
If you want to know more about Felicity, or want to get in touch, you can find her at the following places: