Heart of the Winter Wolf
Was it only coincidence that the white wolf Jillian had depended upon for years in times of need to comfort her came back into her life at the same time that she met James Macleod, the giant of a man with the pale blond hair and the look of a Viking?
James Macleod was a Changeling who'd lost everything dear to him in a single night of blood and fire. Devastated by guilt and driven by grief, he became a great white wolf and vowed never to walk as a man again - until a small blonde veterinarian shook his resolve and his world. Now James must remember how to be human and walk in his human skin again in order to solve a frightening riddle: Who is this beautiful woman and why is his wolfen side hunting her?
Jillian gets offered the dream of... well, somebody's lifetime, and with her temporary job coming to an end and no other promises of income, she's left with little choice but to accept the offer, packing up and moving to Alberta, Canada, on the dime of Connor MacKleod who's in need of help with his livestock.
Thirty years ago, James lost his wife and unborn child to murder. In his anguish, he willed himself to die. But the wolf half of him, being the wild creature it was, took control and fought to survive. Since that moment, James has shut away the human side of himself. He doesn't shift. He barely communicates, save for mindspeech with his brother and packmate, Connor. He lives, day after day, year after year, as the wolf.
Then, one afternoon, he catches the scent of a new female at the clinic where Connor works and in an instant, reality hits him-he is not a wolf. And so, awakened at last, James begins the journey back to himself.
I'm on a whole other level of satisfied when I can step back from a book and can honestly say that it was a beautiful story. That moment when James realized he wanted to experience Jillian-her smell, her feel, her taste-while in human form was so eloquently well done. Connor's flood of emotions was just as touching. Mmm. Loved me some Connor.
The romance was so refreshing. It's not some collision of hormones but rather a casual attraction between two (seemingly) strangers. Don't misunderstand-there's epic amounts of passion once they do touch but the lead up is so very near to courting it'll make any romantic swoon in delight. And having Connor and Berky sticking their noses in with the appropriate nudging is too wickedly good. But what made the book for me, aside from Connor's awesomeness, was James. His inner battle, despair, and ever present fear that he was losing his sanity to a multiple personality disorder. Finally I understood what that last part of that last sentence in the blurb meant.
Had to wonder though... if Roderick pegged James as a Changeling over thirty years ago, why the hell did it take so long to figure Conner out? And omigod, why, oh why, would breaking up with a woman via flowers *ever* be a good idea!?
Enjoyed the book immensely, and honestly couldn't find anything I would have liked done differently. Hmmm... yays! 5 out of 5 stars.