The runt of the Council lab Breeds, Dawn Daniels has endured years of torture by her Pride brother and the Council soldiers. Finally freed from her torment, she is now a Breed Enforcer in control of her own life. Then she is assigned to protect the one man who is destined to be her mate--and realizes it's far too easy to lose total control.
One of the Breeds' most important supporters, Seth Lawrence has spent years trying to forget Dawn, knowing that her lost innocence has made it impossible for her to get close to anyone. But suddenly neither of them can find the strength to fight the overwhelming passion between them. At least, until the most brutal tormenter from Dawn's past reappears and threatens to destroy their newfound love--and their lives.
This is Book #14 in Lora Leigh's Breeds Series, and like all the preceeding books is full of pathos, edgey with emotion and remembered pain, and tons and tons of political, military, and emotional conflict. Dawn's "brother", Callan Lyons has watched over her since his earliest days of knowing Dawn. He had been transferred to her Council lab and had immediately taken this "runt" of the Breeds under his wing. After they escaped and were able to establish Sanctuary as a safe haven for the feline breeds, Callan did all he could to insulate Dawn from her memories of being raped and tortured repeatedly, drugged in order to induce mating heat, and having her sense of self systematically attacked by no less than her Pride brother, Dayan.
During her first year at Sanctuary, Dawn was introduced to Seth Lawrence, CEO of Lawrence Industries and the biggest financial supporter of the Breeds' efforts to establish their own communities. She was terrified of any man but especially of Seth as she perceived his attraction to her and his desire to establish a relationship with him. One brief kiss, and the Mating Heat was upon them both. Even so, Seth allowed Callan to convince him that he needed to stay away from Dawn until she could conquer her fears and come to peace with her past. Now ten years later, Callan assigns Dawn to protect Seth whose life is now being threatened because of his support of the Breeds. But before she departs Sanctuary, Callan tells her that Seth has now "beaten" the Mating Heat, that he is no longer her mate, and that he is on the verge of marrying another. In spite of her pain and upset, Dawn goes forward with her assignment. And, as it is often said, the story goes on from there.
This is a very intense read. Of all the Breeds, whether canine of feline, this story seems to be the one filled most with the horrors of what was done to all the Breeds while held captive in the Council labs. That Dawn is unable to truly remember everything may seem a grace, but keeping those memories blocked also keeps her from grieving and from moving on. Now she has caught the scent of someone she vaguely remembers but she can't remember where. Little does she know it is the man who tormented her almost continually for years, who has now determined that he will once again enslave her to his perversion. Her terror, her anger, her disappointment and sense of betrayal are almost palpable. Ms Leigh writes of these emotions and the characters affected by them very powerfully, not overwhelming the story with internal dialogue by any means, but using a wonderful efficiency of words portrays what these characters are feeling.
This story is about pain--remembered and forgotten, about betrayal and disappointment, about love lost and regained, about loyalty and trust, love of family even when that love seems misdirected. It is also a continuation of several of the other stories highlighted in previous books in this series, as Ms Leigh has chosen to keep the reader involved with their ongoing personal histories as a part of the back story of each succeeding novel. I like that a lot. Most of all, the relationship between Dawn and Seth is very intense as he demonstrates that his love for her is equal to the challenges of what lies in their immediate futures as well as helping her deal with the past. I think my most favorite indicator of his love for her is that everywhere he traveled in the ten years they were apart--when he specifically thought of her and when surrounded by the scents of a particular place, he would commission a soap maker to produce products that would carry that unique scent so that he could hopefully share that with her in the future. Now there's a really romantic guy!
So even though this book was written a few years ago, I think it is worth reading or re-visiting. This is one of those books that might just involve getting the old crying tissue box out and keeping it handy. I give this book a rating of 4.75 out of 5.