Jake Bannaconni was born to two bored, selfish parents who only wanted him if he was one of the few shifters their blood lines carried. Even shortly after his birth, he was rejected and abused by the two and he then spent his entire childhood as the victim of their horrific physical and emotional abuse. He only made it through because he was smart, cunning...and a shifter.
Jake was aware that he had another entity sharing his body and it was its thoughts that got him through the worst of the abuse, when he could have turned into a leopard at any time and killed them. He waited, he evaluated the people around him, and except for his grandfather, vowed to one day to destroy everyone who had abused him so badly.
30 years later, he is a successful business-man who has made one very big mistake. He slept with the daughter of other shifters, only to discover that she had damaged their birth control and deliberately conceived a child. No one in his area was aware that he could change into a leopard at will, but he had gone to the Amazon and met a few of his people who shared his unique skills.
Now, he and Shaina, the mother of his unborn child, and a woman he hated, were involved in a high speed car chase. He planned to hold her in a secure part of his home, in order to give the baby the best possible start. Unfortunately, they were in a car accident that killed her and the man she was riding with, and also involved other people on the road.
The other driver's name was Emma Reynolds and her husband was Andy. She had just discovered that she was pregnant and the accident killed her husband. It almost cost her the baby, while Jake's son, Kyle, was born a little early, but healthy. As complications from the accident threatened her pregnancy and desperate to do something about the connection that Jake felt for Emma, he convinced her to be Kyle's nanny.
Reluctantly, she moves in with him temporarily and years later, they are still together in a completely platonic way. Their children are so close in age that they have been raised almost as twins or siblings and she is aware of the unusual runs he goes on in the ranch in Texas they spend time at.
Finally, she is considering making chances to their relationship, including dating at some point, and Jake becomes very jealous. At the same time, he pursues her romantically, although he won't admit that he loves her, he says that it is only because they are comfortable together and his son sees her as his maternal figure.
After a few arguments, he kisses her passionately and begins an aggressive seduction routine. Her final secret that he has never guessed, is that she is also part shifter. Her mother was from the same area near the Amazon where Jake visited and when she fell in love with Emma's father, she gave it up to make him happy.
The reader is also educated about a particularly amorous time in a male shape-shifter's life, where he feels a biological imperative to find and mate with his life partner, which is one of the reasons that his relationship with Emma had been changing.
As the novel ends, Emma and Jake make love (repeatedly) and they come to an honest decision about their relationship. By now, Emma has been approached and attacked on separate occasions by Jake's parents and they also tried to kidnap Kyle. After escaping, she shares that she can also shift into a leopard and it becomes obvious to both of them that they should be together.
Throughout the novel and despite the abuse that Jake endured as a child, he was always very good to their children and treated them equally.
Best part of story, including ending:
I loved this story because it was a fast-paced novel that did not just stick with the standard explanation or beliefs about shapeshifters. In addition, it was just a really interesting story line.
Best scene in story:
I adored his walk thruogh the tiny apartment that Emma had shared with her husband. This was shortly after the accident, when Emma was in the hospital and he went there to pick her up a few things. He could not figure out how someone could be as happy as she was with little money and a shabby apartment. I thought it was hysterical that he just didn't get that their love made them happy and then it was sad that love was such a foreign concept. Regardless, it was very telling of his life experiences up to that point.
Opinion about the main character:
Emma was unique and strong in a way that fictional women are not always. I have no doubt that if Jake had not swooped in to give her somewhere to stay and have help with his son, she would have figured out something to do. She was not overly educated, but smart in her own right and a good person.