Dawn has survived horrors and tortures she never thought possible, and the only man who can save her spirit is the one that demands her body as well. Dawn Daniels is a fighter. Though a small, seemingly unassuming Cougar Breed, Dawn can be a vicious killer when she needs to be. She was trained, as were most of her brethren, in the horrific labs of the Genetics Council that created them using human and animal DNA. Unlike some of her fellow Breeds, Dawn's tortures while in captivity were greater than most. She was abused physically, mentally and sexually as a child to the point that once their escape finally came, she would awaken nightly with terrified screams that echoed her childhood pain. Unfortunately, once Dawn and her pack escaped their lab, the horrors were not entirely over. A Breed they considered a brother, Dayan, was secretly working against them from the time of his creation. He used the videos of Dawn's tortures against her, killing the last of her spirit secretly while the others were unaware. When the atrocities Dayan was a part of came to light, their pride leader Callan dealt a swift justice and the man they had called a brother was no more. It has been nearly a year since then and Dawn is finally making progress to become the woman she was meant to be until a particular male enters her life.
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Seth Lawrence has seen many horrors in his life, but he had felt none of them to the depth of his soul like he did the creation and treatment of the Breed men and women that had been revealed a year ago. To know that his billionaire father had supported the Council and their experiments financially is something he is still trying to make amends for. When the news report hit that Breeds existed, it didn't take long for his father Aaron Lawrence to recognize his long-lost daughter, Veronica. Roni had mated and married Taber Williams, the public face of the Breeds, and Aaron was desperate to get to know her. He cut all funding to the Council, renounced his ways, and made Seth promise that Roni would never know his involvement in the Council's experiments. Seth agreed as his father had been diagnosed with a fatal illness that would claim his life in a handful of years. When the two men arrive at Sanctuary, the Feline Breed compound in the hills of Virginia, they are both concerned with Roni's happiness and safety, but Seth is quickly waylaid by the instant attraction he has to Dawn.
Unaware of her past Seth begins to court Dawn, but realizes quickly that she is fearful of him. Not as if he would hurt her, but fearful of her own attraction to him. It doesn't deter Seth and he is careful to stay around Dawn but not antagonize her. Unfortunately, Callan and Taber know full well what Dawn has gone through and worry that Seth's claim on her means they are meant to be Breed mates. Mating heat as it is known to them is an intense, overwhelming physiological and hormonal reaction between a Breed and their mate. It causes nature to override common sense and push the pair together until conception occurs. Terrified that Dawn will regress back into the defeated, scared shell of a woman she was a year ago, Callan and Taber take it upon themselves to show Seth the videos of what was done to Dawn in the labs. Horrified by what he sees, and desperate to give Dawn a chance to grow before he overwhelms her, Seth leaves Sanctuary unwilling to return to be with Dawn until she is ready for him.
Dawn is not sure what has kept Seth aware from her the last 10 years, but she has been devastated by it the entire decade. The hormonal changes that happen when Breeds encounter their mates have been occurring in her for the last 10 years, and the male that started it was nowhere to be found. Feeling the sting of rejection and loneliness, Dawn has gone out of her way since Seth left to stay away from him as well. That comes to a crashing halt when attempts are made on Seth's life that concern the Breeds enough to send out enforcers to act as a protective detail for him. Seth's company has been a large financial supporter of the Breeds since they went public with their existence, and the upcoming week at his island home is to be used to push the funding they need to continue supporting Sanctuary with Seth's board members.
Dawn is chosen to head the enforcer team safeguarding Seth, but he adamantly refuses. When she discovers that the mating heat has gone out of Seth over the past five years, that the hormones and arousal they should both be sharing are virtually non-existent in his body anymore, she refuses to be left behind. Dawn quickly figures out that part of their orders for her to stay away from Seth are because he has taken a lover and does not want Dawn around to start the mating heat again when she does not have the ability to be intimate with Seth. Furious, Dawn makes it a point to be on his detail and shows up at the island.
Seth is not happy by the turn of events and neither is his soon-to-be fiancée Caroline. Caroline realizes that Seth has never fully been hers and it enrages her. As the day goes on she attempts to confront Dawn, who quickly turns on her in a rage with her hand around Caroline's throat. They are interrupted by Seth and Dawn's enforcers, and Caroline turns to Seth in tears acting as though Dawn attacked her unprovoked. Dawn realizes that she cannot let Seth go, and it's killing her to see him holding another woman, and resolves to claim him no matter the consequences.
Constantly irritating the other, the would-be couple find themselves locked behind Seth's office doors in a heated argument that quickly turns sexual. The mating hormone is reintroduced to Seth who is minutes from claiming Dawn when Caroline begins pounding on his door. Seth ultimately breaks up with Caroline, knowing he would have done so eventually even if not for Dawn, but refuses to finish what Dawn started. Seth's own fears of hurting Dawn physically or emotionally while in the throw of passion keep him away from her as much as he can bear, but it's a battle he soon loses.
One of Seth's board members, and one of the few Breed supporters, is murdered one night while Seth is with Dawn. The body is in Seth's room and looks enough like Seth that everyone realizes he was the actual target. While they are sorting through clues and trying to find the killer, they attend evening parties and events that are keeping Seth's guests on his island entertained. At one of the parties Dawn is approached by Jason Phelps, the nephew of one of Seth's board members, and for some reason she feels her skin crawl in his presence. Seth shoots her a warning when she is rude to Jason, but she can't explain why she dislikes the man or distrusts him.
It is well known that Dawn does not remember what happened to her in the labs. When she was younger she hid from the memories to escape the pain, and now she would give anything to remember so she could rid herself of the unknown fears she lives with. Though much of it comes rushing back as her and Seth get closer, eventually consummating their relationship and Dawn knows the memories are close. One evening they are led into a trap and Seth races outside to confront the man that is terrorizing Dawn on via the communications link in her ear. The enforcers realize their killer has taken out one of their own in order to get the link, and Seth realizes that the man is one of the men who attacked Dawn repeatedly as a child in the labs.
In her efforts to find and save Seth, Dawn is attacked by the unknown assailant who claims that Dawn is his and has been since she was a child. He claims that he came to take her back and begins to attack her. She is rescued and furious, and the memories return. Dawn realizes that the reason she has been hiding from them and refusing to pray was because she had not followed through on her promise to God to kill the man who had attacked her daily. She intends to rectify that now that she knows her assailant is still alive and is nearby. Dawn and Seth get closer, eventually claiming each other and realizing their love. They are proud of that fact at the final soiree at Seth's home on the island when Dawn's memories finally click in place. She realizes that Jason Phelps is her attacker, the nightmare that tortured her in the labs, but she doesn't realize it until Jason already has Cassie Sinclair in his arms on the dance floor. As she lets the others know, Jason makes his moves and put a gun to Cassie's head. Cassie Sinclair is the only known hybrid child of wolf and coyote DNA, and is the biggest asset that the Council wants back. While her father Dash growls on helplessly, Dawn maneuvers Jason to follow her in his sight and turn his body so the men outside can get a better shot at him without hitting Cassie.
Jason reveals that he has no interest in Cassie, that she is just a high paying perk to take back to the Council. Jason really came for Dawn. He had realized who she was and wanted her back to test and torture, feeling he had a claim to her. Dawn keeps maneuvering Jason with the ploy that she will go with him to save Cassie, and once he is in perfect position the Breed sniper outside and an unknown Breed sitting several branches above him open fire on Jason. The Breed no one even knew was there had made the shot without error, but Jonas Wyatt's bullet hit Cassie as well, in the head.
Luckily, Phelps is killed and even though Cassie is wounded she heals nicely. Two of the other Breeds shot by Jason when trying to protect Dawn, Callan and Noble, are rushed to surgery and also come out okay. Dawn is finally able to relax for a minute and have her mate, who is more than happy to return the love they have both done without for a decade.
The last scene shows Cassie recovering and unconscious in her hospital bed. The unknown Breed that had been watching her and made the second shot that killed Phelps, steals into her room to make sure she is alright. He thoughts and emotions reveal that he is more than likely Cassie's mate, and when he whispers in her ear she comes back to consciously suddenly, screaming. The unknown Breed male makes a hasty exit before he can be discovered, but makes a silent note that they will probably be together one day.
Best part of story, including ending:
I love this story because it shows Dawn as a stronger female than all those around her think she is. She has survived horrors, she has survived betrayal, and she is terrified of being with a man again after her childhood, but she is more than willing to try when it comes to the man she loves.
Best scene in story:
I actually have several favorite scenes, most of which include Dawn. She has such a small stature and unassuming demeanor at first that many feel inclined to talk down to her, or even disparage all Breeds in her presence. Every time she sneakily turns the tables on them, or brushes off the insults and makes it clear she couldn't care less. Each time someone has to apologize or get their comeuppance from Dawn is a great, entertaining scene to read.
Opinion about the main character:
I actually did not like Seth as much at first because you feel it as sort of a betrayal that he walks away from Dawn after being shown the videos. Especially that he works to get the hormone out of his system and find someone else when he gets tired of waiting for her. You feel better about it toward the end when Dawn admits that it probably was what she needed at the time, but until she realizes that herself, it's hard to forgive him for walking away. Ultimately though, Seth is just as much the lovable, protective alpha male that the Breeds are, and proves that to Dawn many times over.