Ian Buchanan has always felt the unknown - the deep, impenetrable darkness that lives within him. Yet he is determined to lead a "normal" life, ignoring the unsettling dreams in which he succumbs to his wildest desires... Until psychic Molly Stratton tracks him down, claiming to share his sensual nightmares.
The petite Molly even has the bite marks to prove it. And she's also received a message from Ian's deceased mother: an enemy is near. And it's time for the creature inside Ian to finally awaken. A creature with an insatiable hunger that must be controlled before it overtakes them both...
Rhyannon Byrd is a new to me author but her covers were just so captivating that I couldn't resist buying the first of her three back to back releases. Her Primal Instinct series features a different twist on paranormal myths that was quite refreshing to read in a genre gluttoned by vampires. Byrd does include shapeshifters in 'Edge of Hunger' but not much is revealed about them. Rather, Byrd focuses on the hero who is known as the Merrick, a person who is not wholly human and who has the ability to shift into a being bent on the destruction of it's nemesis, the Casus.
Ian Buchanan is haunted by the darkness threatening to break through his formidable control. Nightmares plague him where fangs spring from his gums and blood cascades down his throat from the willing neck of a brunette gypsy. Terrified and soaked with sweat, Ian fears the dreams where he ceases to be human. But one little brown-eyed woman is about to make him face the darkness, whether he wants to or not.
Molly Stratton has finally given in to the demands of Ian's deceased mother, Elaina. Molly has been able to communicate with ghosts since high school. Coming to her in her dreams, these determined spirits hound Molly into complying with their last wishes such as "Tell so and so this", or "Give so and so that". Generally trivial stuff, but Elaina wants Molly to pass information to her eldest son, Ian, that very well could save his life. Now, if only she can get him to believe her.
It's never been a secret to anyone whose ever been in contact with Ian, that he's quick to judge and generally just an all around belligerent jerk. From the moment Ian spots Molly, he knows she's trouble and trouble in any form is something that Ian wants to stay as far away from as possible. When the little blond starts talking ghosts and the whisperings of his deceased mother, Ian strives to keep himself from grabbing the woman and shoving her beautiful butt back into her car and back to where ever it is she hails from. But when Molly makes mention of the darkness within him, Ian is stupefied and even more determined to get away from her.
But Molly follows Ian right into his nightmares except this time instead of the brunette gypsy, it's Molly he's thrusting into and indulging in his primal craving - sinking his fangs into her neck and drinking the sweetest nectar he's ever tasted. Amazingly enough, his dream Molly isn't afraid of his beastly nature but in fact smiles coyly at him. When the darkness begins to boil beneath his skin, Ian panics in fear that he'll hurt her and rips himself from the nightmare. Heaving and soaked in sweat, Ian is relieved to be awake but his relief is short lived. When pounding on his door reveals Molly, Ian can't dispel the denial churning in his gut when Molly sweeps aside her blond curls to reveal two throbbing puncture wounds in her neck, the same exact place that he sank his fangs into in his nightmare.
Molly hopes that with the proof on her neck Ian will heed Elaina's initial warnings that the darkness is awakening and that someone close to him is in danger. One part has already proven true but now Molly must help Ian protect those he cares about. Unfortunately she's too late. Ian's recent lover is found torn to shreds in a nearby field. Something dangerous is prowling the streets of Henning, Colorado and Ian soon makes the monster's acquaintance.
Malcolm DeKreznick is a Casus, an immortal and evil race of beings that were imprisoned centuries ago in the Meridian, a metaphysical holding cell by the ancient rival tribe of Merricks. Malcolm knows that Ian's Merrick is awakening and he plans on killing him. The power Malcolm would gain from killing the Merrick would allow him to bring another Casus across the gate and into the modern world. While he waits for Ian's Merrick to fully awaken, he'll take pleasure in raping and murdering Ian's old lovers.
Ian and Molly soon get help from the Consortium, an ancient organization charged with the task of watching the supernatural happenings around the world. They've kept track of the Buchanan bloodline for centuries, awaiting the day when the Merrick genes would awaken. They figure that with the centuries long absence of the Casus, the Merrick has not been needed and thus has remained dormant in the bloodline.
Meanwhile, the Consortium informs Ian that his Merrick needs to feed in order to be strong enough to defeat the immortal Casus and send it's soul back to the Meridian. Ian is still terrified of the beast trying to crawl it's way to the surface and he can't help but think that he'll tear Molly apart while draining her dry. Molly knows that the Merrick won't hurt her. Ian would never let any harm come to her and the desire burring between them is becoming nearly unbearable. Although they've come together twice in their shared dreams, nothing compares to reality and Molly hopes that she'll succeed in seducing Ian but all she gets is heartache.
Ian's best form of defense is attack. Being verbally hurtful to Molly seems his best course of fending Molly off from her determination that he feed from her. The very thought of her blood arouses and sickens him at the same time. All Ian can think is that he'll kill her.
He turned away from her, ready to escape and slam the door behind him, when she said, "Then you're the biggest coward I've ever known."
"Is that really what you think?" he asked without facing her, his hands fisting and flexing at his sides, while his pulse echoed through his skull like a deafening primal roar.
Softly, she said, "What else am I supposed to think, Ian?"
"Dammit, I know you're not stupid," he growled. "You know I'm trying to protect you."
"Is it me you're trying to protect? Or is it you?"
As the murdered women begin to pile up and Ian still refuses to drink blood from Molly, the Consortium tries to interfere. Ian must feed and strengthen the Merrick if he has any hope of walking away from the Casus alive. But the plan backfires horribly. Still determined not to feed and to protect Molly at all costs, Ian decides to draw the Casus onto his own ground and vacates Henning, Colorado for South Carolina and his childhood home. Leaving instructions with the Consortium members to inform Molly that she's to go home, her job is done and Ian basically no longer has use for her. It was the coward's way out but Ian fears that being within any visible proximity of Molly will bring the Merrick forth with the unsatisfied desire for her blood.
Enraged, Molly takes off after Ian. She knows that he needs her help and this time she's not going to back down.
Ian's a difficult hero to like and certainly doesn't make it easy for the reader to understand his emotions. I found that I had to step out of the picture a few times and think about why Ian is behaving so stubborn and so hateful toward Molly. He's a man terrified by the realities of his dark nature. He fights admirably to keep the Merrick deep down and locked inside of him, hating the terror that it may overcome him and he'll be no better than the Casus. Ian does feel guilty at times for shutting Molly out and sending out hurtful barbs to drive her away. He thinks that this will protect her, not only from him but the Casus as well. In truth, he responded like a man - stubborn til the very end. It also takes Ian a long time to realize his love for Molly. His lust, he gets, but this driving need to protect her is something wholly unfamiliar to him.
I thought Ian was very lucky that Molly understood not only the secret to his defenses, but also that she loved him. She recognized his caring soul beneath the harsh facade when she witnessed Ian's remorse over his past lovers' and their horrific deaths. She understands his need to protect her. Molly's decision to wear her heart on her sleeve in hopes of getting through to Ian was crazy as it was perfect. The girl sucks up her pride more times than I could ever hope to count. It took a lot of bravery on Molly's end to expose herself so intimately to Ian knowing that he'll attack her verbally and break her heart time and again in an effort to force her away. Knowing myself, I could never hand my heart over to man like Ian. I'm too prideful but Molly certainly is fearless and she's definitely earned my respect.
Interested in 'Edge of Hunger'? Visit Rhyannon Byrd for More Details!
Look for Book 2 and Book 3 in the Primal Instinct Series Coming May and June 2009!