What has she done? With a new identity, a staged death, and a chance to flee the treachery that stalks her, Rachael has escaped from a faceless assassin. Now, thousands of miles from home, under the lush canopy of the rain forest, she's found sanctuary.
Where can she hide? In this world teaming with unusual creatures walks the most exotic of them all. His name is Rio. A native of the forest imbued with a fierce prowess, he is something to be desired. Possessed of secrets of his own, he is something to be feared.
Whom can she trust? But as Rachael's past looms as oppressively as the heat of the forest, and as Rio unleashes the secret animal instincts that course through his blood, Rachael fears that her isolated haven has become an inescapable hell…
Despite the fact that I read across all romantic sub genres, nothing compares to that inner sigh of contentment when you read what you truly love and what ultimately fuels your desire for romance. 'Wild Rain' was like coming home for me in that respect and it proved once again that paranormal romance is where my heart is.
'Wild Rain', in overall tone, is fairly different from Christine Feehan's widely popular 'Dark Series'. There are several moments of wonderful humor and while the hero of course is on the trademark Feehan extreme side of alpha, he's not oppressive like her Carpathians.
Rachael Lospostos finally feels like she's come home as she jogs steadily through the vast rain forests of Malaysia, Borneo and Indochina. Never has her spirit felt so wild, so free as it did at that moment. Her staged death upon the raging river would hopefully be bought by the man whose after her and that all attempts to find her would come to a halt. Unfortunately, Rachael's escape plan is hindered by a vicious attack by two clouded leopards and their angry owner.
Rio Santana assumes that the female draped upon his bed, high in his tree top home, could be nothing save one of the numerous assassins bent on his official demise. Finally they've discovered his hideout and figured a woman would be they're best shot at defeating him. With anger surging uncontrollably, Rio accidentally forgets about the clouded leopards at his side and when the surprised female makes to attack him, his cats lunge unnecessarily to his aid. What baffles Rio though is his intense feelings of shame and guilt while he patches up her punctured calf and splints her broken wrist. For some reason his heart is telling him that he's supposed to cherish this woman, not endanger her and certainly to not be a direct threat.
Raging with the hallucinations brought upon by high fever, Rachael can't dispel the sense that she knows Rio. She knows who he is and what his likes and dislikes are. She knows how he would feel to the touch and she even knows that making love to him would feel like heaven on earth. She shakes the knowledge off and attributes her obvious delusions to not only the fever but also the fact that Rio definitely isn't afraid to be seen naked. The man is visually stunning and Rachael likens him to the ancient Greek and Roman sculptures. What fantasy wouldn't be ignited by a naked sex god parading around you within touching distance?
"You have a beautiful body." Rachael would never have called attention to the fact that he was naked. The words slipped out before she could censor them, or maybe someone else said them. She looked around to see if they were really alone. She had said it after all, and she meant it. The honesty in her voice didn't even make her blush or turn away when he looked over at her with his penetrating, focused gaze.
Rachael stared at him openly, inspecting him the way she might a beautiful sculpture. She smiled dreamily. "Don't mind me. I think it's the drugs talking. I've just never seen a man naked with a body as beautiful as yours is."
But Rachael isn't the only one sensing some previous connection. Rio knows Rachael in the exact same capacity. He knows they've loved in a previous life and his people's teachings makes him believe it's not only possible, but that it's true. Rio is a leopard shape-shifter. He's not man nor is he leopard. He's both. His kind are few and the rules of their people are harsh for secrecy is the most important aspect of they're community - a community that Rio has been banished from. Living a solitary and ultimately lonely life, Rio wasn't looking for love but his suddenly overwhelming feelings for Rachael surpass his incredible control and now his previously tolerable existence feels unbearable.
Rachael knows that Rio is different. There's a distinct feline quality to his soundless movements and strange green-gold eyes. When a giant leopard enters the cabin when Rio is gone, Rachael can't help but be fearless in it's presence. She even reaches out to pet the silken fur as the giant cat rubs insistently along her fevered body. Her mind senses the similarities but she can't stop the immediate denial. When Rio finally shows her the truth, Rachael isn't scared but sad for she knows that the men hunting her would stop at nothing to kill or catch her, even if it means murdering the beautiful man guarding her.
Soon, Rio's and Rachael's mutual desire for one another can no longer be ignored and with bursting passion they make love, ever mindful of Rachael's injuries. But the blissful paradise of each others arms is quickly shattered when an assassin is once again on Rachael's trail but this time it's no ordinary human. One of Rio's kind is after Rachael's death and it's the nature of the beast to strike again and again until the deed is accomplished. The only thing that will stop a leopard from reaching it's set goal is death and Rio knows what he must do to protect the woman he loves.
Meanwhile, Rachael is starting to feel as though the wildness awakened in her by the rain forest is trying to break free. In moments of intense anger or fear, something calls to Rachael and with that call comes the sharp clarity of the forest surrounding her. Rachael begins to recognize the different songs and warnings of the birds. Once invisible, now the various insects seem to stand out in sharp relief. Intense colors overwhelm her senses but surprisingly, there is no fear, there is only the need to be free.
With the demise of one threat rises a new one. There is a million dollar price issued for the safe return of Rachael. Her brother, her savior, is searching for her and he's the last person Rachael ever wants to see. She loves him unconditionally and she would never betray his secrets but he's not the same Elijah that she once knew. Rachael only wishes to disappear but danger follows her everywhere and her heart is devastated that she's led it straight to Rio's door. Broken hearted, Rachael reaches deep for the burgeoning wildness within embracing the beast of her heart and leaps into the forest with every intention of leaving Rio and the life she wishes to have had with him behind.
Infuriated with Rachael's desertion, Rio tracks her easily in his territory. He's resolved to keep Rachael with him. He loves her, she's his soul and he'll not let her risk her life in an effort to protect him. Rachael realizes that her attempt to keep Rio safe in the only capacity that she can offer is futile. When he finds her and leads her back to his tree top home, Rachael resigns herself to her love for Rio and agrees to fight the threat against her life together.
'Wild Rain' was really great escape read. Feehan transports you magically into an entirely different and richly exotic world. Throughout the entire novel I felt completely immersed in the sights, sounds and feels of the rain forest. The colors are brought to life dramatically and I could imagine the call of the many different birds that live amongst the tall canopy. The insects buzz their constant songs while the monkeys laugh had swing amongst the many limbs offered by the trees. Then there is the majesty and sublime captivation of the leopards. It's obvious that Feehan spent many hours researching the movements and varying personalities of leopards. I truly felt the wildness of their world and when they stalked their prey, I too stayed silent and sharp for the kill.
Feehan also shined incredible light on the infinite dangers of the forest and how fragile human life is. A single scratch can lead to deadly infection in mere hours. The many predators range from microscopic to the lethal incisors of a big cat. Rachael's dangerous situation with her injured leg is never forgotten. The reader is constantly aware of her fight against the elements of the forest bent on her destruction for it preys on the weak to leave room for the strong. Rio's and Rachael's struggles were never downplayed, they were as much apart of the plot as their romance was and the truth in that was refreshing.
Lastly, I really enjoyed Feehan's unique take of the finding of mates for the leopard people. There is no instant realization the other is theirs. While both Rio and Rachael feel and early inner connection, it's explored leisurely and was a nice change up for the paranormal genre.
'Wild Rain' is definitely a must read for anyone who loves paranormal romance especially shape-shifter romance.
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