Title: Crucible of Fate
Author: Mary Calmes
Series: Change of Heart, #4
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: November 21st 2012
Genre: M/M, Shifter, Romance
Length: 234 pages
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Available At: Dreamspinner | Amazon | ARe | B&N
In the secret city of Sobek, Domin Thorne is making his way as the newly chosen semel-aten, the leader of the werepanther world. He aspires to make sweeping changes—he’s set goals for himself and the people he chose to bring with him, modeling his reign after that of his friend, Logan Church. But Domin may have set too lofty a goal: his normal leadership style isn’t working.
While juggling a homesick Crane, a moody Mikhail, a bullwhip-wielding Taj, servants with murderous intentions, a visiting ex, and a mate on a dangerous goodwill mission, Domin has to figure out his new role alone. He also must determine how to deal with a conspiracy, all the while falling hard for a man who, for the first time in Domin’s life, reciprocates that love. Whether Domin is ready or not, Fate has stepped in to teach him a lesson: internal threats are just as dangerous as external ones.
At the end of Honored Vow I was certain that it was my favourite Mary Calmes story. . . now I’m not sure. Crucible of Fate is book #4 in the Change of Heart series and the first not to be from Jin’s POV. I had already grown to love Domin, but in this book I totally fell in-love with him and Yuri!
One note before I dive into why Crucible of Fate is a MUST READ – this book has some violence, though not as much as Honored Vow but does touch on rape, murder, poisoning, and more. But trust me, it’s all needed and logical within the story arc. That all being said, Crucible of Fate picks up right when Domin, Yuri, Crane, and the others return from the adventures in Honored. That first scene had my heart thumping and I think I cheered (much to my children’s amusement) out loud.
Seeing Domin grow was wonderful. Seeing how he dealt with all the corruption surrounding him as he struggles to fulfill his and Logan’s dreams for what the Samel-atan should be and can do. . . was riveting both due to the power of the story and the richness of the world Mary weaves around them. Few authors can pull so many emotions at once (fast paced, explosive, emotional, and deliciously hot) and make it something that you devour in one sitting yet Mary Calmes manages it, again. I truly hope that there will be more books in this series (pleasepleasepleeeeeeeeese . . .). Oh, and seeing Yuri and Domin in bed, or against the wall, or . . . is H O T! Needed a cold shower after a could of the scenes! Wow!
If you love shifter/were stories, especially M/M ones, you can do no better than to read the entire Change of Heart series, especially Crucible of Fate.
I was focused on his words, but it was getting harder. It was difficult not to notice and be mesmerized by the curve of his lip, the dimple in his chin, and his thick expressive eyebrows.
I cleared my throat. “No. You’ll give me a report, and I’ll decide what to do at that point.”
“Yes, my lord,” he said mock seriously, the deference over the top and playfully patronizing.
“That’s not what I meant,” I growled, not in the mood to banter with him. It was killing me that he was leaving. “You just need to come home!”
“Because it’s your duty.”
“My duty?” He was still teasing me.
“You’re supposed to stand right beside me!” I yelled and saw the surprise register that I was actually upset.
“I will, then,” he said quietly. “I’ll get home as fast as I can.”
I took a breath. “I don’t remember you telling me any of this.”
“Well, I did. I explained this all to you last night at length, again, as well as several times in the past week.”
Had I been listening? Ever?
“Kabore, yes,” I said sharply. “I’ve met the man, go on.”
Judging from the twinkle in his eyes, I was clearly amusing him. “He suggested that I take this task off your plate by going in your place.”
“And what if I don’t want you to go?”
His eyes were really the clearest blue I had ever seen in my life, and when they fixed on mine I could feel a comforting weight settle over me, spreading calm. “Is that what you’re asking me to do?”
I thought a minute. “Have other mates done these kinds of things?”
“Of course,” he said. “Missions of goodwill are what mates of important men do.”
“What if it’s dangerous?”
“It’s not. How could it be? I’ll be there to help return a boy that the semel of Feran has probably just not had time to think about. The man basically has a civil war being waged on his land; I’ll bet you anything, the boy is an oversight. He’ll welcome me with open arms, and when I tell him that I am gathering information for you so that the semel-aten might help him find a resolution, he might even kiss me.”
“He better not.”
His eyes were warm. “Don’t worry about me. Everyone knows that to harm the mate of the semel-aten is a death sentence. No one would risk it.”
I was not convinced. “You will take thirty men with you.”
“Stop answering my commands with questions!”
“Am I doing that?” He was so restrained, so calm.
“Yes!” I yelled like a screaming idiot. “And it’s very patronizing!”
“Stop ranting,” he directed, half grinning, his voice sexy and calming at the same time. “Now, listen. Thirty men on a mission of mediation is overkill.”
“I disagree,” I said defensively.
“I used to be a sheseru,” he brought to mind, his tone placating. “I know how many men to take, Domin. Don’t fret.”
“I don’t fret!” I was indignant. “I just want you to be safe and—”
“I will be perfectly fine meeting a semel and the djehus. If I have too many men with me, it will seem like I’m there to impose your will instead of talk. Take my counsel on this.”
That was the second time he’d used that word. “What’s a djehu? I mean, I get that it’s some kind of leader, but the word’s new to me.”
“A djehu is like an aker, except it’s elected. Apparently, this is how the tribe of Feran is. Hakkan Tarek allowed djehus to be picked by the people instead of them just going to the sylvan.”
“Because they are two very diverse groups who live apart, don’t ever mix, and have basically nothing in common.”
“Except that they’re all panthers.”
“You know you don’t have to explain it to me like that. I’m not a child.”
“No. You’re not,” he said, his voice sultry and full of heat.
I swallowed hard.
“So, I’m going to meet with the semel, get Garai home, and then speak to the djehus and bring you back all their concerns, whatever they are.”
“Fine,” I growled, prickly with frustration.
“Good.” He soothed me. “Did you want to kiss me or—”
“Just go.” I was terse.
Instead of listening, he took my face in his big hands, hauled me close, and kissed me hard and deep and possessive. When he tipped my head back, my mouth opened, and he swept his tongue inside and mated it with mine.
I grabbed hold of the heavy jacket, my hands curling around the lapels as I whimpered in the back of my throat. I needed more, wanted more, and I resented everything, all of it, because being semel-aten meant I could not claim my mate whenever I wanted.
The rules, the protocols, the granted audiences and the myriad of people I saw in the course of a day kept me continually from his side. And then when I did see him, it often erupted because I was angry and he was the only one I could vent my frustrations to—or on—and became me attacking him, yelling, picking fights….
I wanted everything to be right between us before he left. I put all of it, everything I was thinking and feeling, into the kiss. He had to know how much I loved him. I needed it engrained in him, simply recognized and understood.
I sucked his tongue inside my mouth, then slid mine over his, stroking, slipping it back and forth, drawing the kiss out, feeling the shiver run through him. I moaned loudly when his hands gripped my ass tight.
“Domin,” he whispered. I kissed him until he had to tear his lips from mine to breathe. “Are you trying to kill me?”
“Just trying to make an impression,” I said, lifting my mouth for the next one, tightening my arms around his neck to bring him back down to me.
“I’ll never get out of here,” he pretended to complain as he fused his lips to mine.
Seconds later when he shoved me away, I was surprised. “What?” I was panting.
“I have to go.”
“Love.” The tone, the lull in it, the adoration, brought me out of my pheromone-fueled haze.
“I have to go,” he repeated.
“Take your phone.”
“It’s in my pocket.”
Mary Calmes lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband and two children and loves all the seasons except summer. She graduated from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, with a bachelor’s degree in English literature. Due to the fact that it is English lit and not English grammar, do not ask her to point out a clause for you, as it will so not happen. She loves writing, becoming immersed in the process, and falling into the work. She can even tell you what her characters smell like. She loves buying books and going to conventions to meet her fans.