His Darkest Hunger

His Darkest Hunger - Juliana Stone If you are a fan of the ‘Jason Bourne’ movies, then imagine him with the preternatural ability to shape-shift into a black jaguar with extraordinary strength, cunning and hunting instinct, and you have the hero of “His Darkest Hunger” Jaxon Castille. Not only that, sensuality literally oozes from his pores and he possesses an aura that is dark, extremely powerful. Jaxon is a jaguar warrior, a predator who is the descendant of an ancient race created by the Aztecs through dark majick. Jaxon has a magnificent physique, and clan tattoos that color his left shoulder and curve down around his abs. There is something frightening about Jaxon that as a reader I found literally palpable, I think that it is how Ms. Stone has characterized his nature, his jaguar claws at him just below the surface, he is a hunter, cold, calculating and lethal, and, he is an elite assassin.

Jaxon is the leader of an covert government ‘paranormal antiterrorism unit’ (PATU) and works with team members, Declan, a powerful practitioner of magick; Ana, a three hundred year old vampire; and Cracker, a lethal ex-military man whose heritage is a mystery. Three years before the opening of the story in a secret operation gone wrong, Jaxon’s shifter cousin, fellow team member and Ana’s lover, Diego, was murdered. Jaxon’s lover Libby Jamieson, a human, and a member of PATU was felt to have betrayed the operation. When the team returned from the mission, Libby had vanished off the face of the earth. Jaxon has hunted for her for 3 years with one objective, revenge.

An emotionally and physically frail Libby and has no memory of her life before she arrived in a small town in Michigan 2 months earlier. Prone to anxiety and panic attacks she is functioning minute by minute working in a diner, owned by kind elderly, Pete who took her in and cared for her. Little does Libby know but Jaxon has her in his sniper site, and is ready to end her life.

As Jaxon watches Libby through his scope waiting for the right moment to ‘take her out’ he senses something isn’t right. She is thin, favors her side and appears emotionally and physically exhausted, frighted, not the strong ‘kick ass’ operative he knew intimately. It is because of this sense of unease that Jaxon abandons his sniper post and heads to the restaurant, to evaluate her face to face. Where has she been for the past 3 years? What happened to her?

Following a hair raising action scene Jaxon takes an agitated and terrified Libby to PATU headquarters where what is learned from a medical examination very nearly brings him to his knees. Libby has been tortured and abused physically and emotionally over an extended period. In addition she is under the influence of a mind block from powerful black majick that has caused her amnesia. My heart broke for Libby, Ms. Stone portrays, her fear, panic, confusion, and embarrassment graphically. I could feel Libby’s disorientation and terror and wondered how Ms. Stone was going to effectively mould her character given the horrors she had endured. However, as the mind block lifts and Libby's memories come rushing back, a strong, determined, capable and pissed off woman emerges. Libby wants vengeance against her captors and she blames Jaxon for what happened to her.

The relationship between these reacquainted lovers is complicated and evolves slowly over the course of the story. I will say the love scenes penned between Jaxon and Libby are spontaneous and nuclear grade hot before and after her memory returns. In spite of bitter conflicts between them there is a primal draw that neither can resist. Jaxon particularly has commitment issues because of his heritage which you will have to learn about by reading the story if you choose to.

Libby shares the directions to her captor's lair with Jaxon and the team embarks on a perilous mission to stop the spread of a malevolent, treacherous evil. This story is littered with exciting action scenes from start to finish, which are skillfully integrated into a plot that has a number of suspenseful, surprizing twists and turns, for me this read was a page turning rush.

Strong well developed supporting characters are introduced including Jaxon’s two brothers Jagger and Julian who are also powerful jaguar shifters but each unique in their own way. Ms. Stone crafted some excellent world building into the narrative and the riveting climax and conclusion of "His Darkest Hunger" sets the stage for the next book in the series, “His Darkest Embrace” which is Jagger’s story.

If you enjoy a fast paced, dark paranormal romance with elements of black ops military suspense, you may like to give “His Darkest Hunger” a try. I am so looking forward to “His Darkest Embrace”.

Heat Level: It boils, the sensuality between Jaxon and Libby burns up the pages. :-)

My Rating: 5/5 stars (I loved this story)