True Nature by Jae
When wolf-shifter Kelsey Yates discovers that fourteen-year-old shape-shifter Danny Harding is living with a human adoptive mother, she is sent on a secret mission to protect the pup and get him away from the human.
Successful CEO Rue Harding has no idea that the private teacher she hires for her deaf son isn’t really there to teach him history and algebra—or that Danny and Kelsey are not what they seem to be.
But when Danny runs away from home and gets lost in New York City, Kelsey and Rue have to work together to find him before his first transformation sets in and reveals the shape-shifter’s secret existence to the world.
“Kelsey! What happened? Are you okay? Did he hurt you?”
Instead of answering, Kelsey moaned.
Rue laid one hand on Kelsey’s bare neck and rubbed soothing circles.
After a few seconds, the tense muscles beneath her hands relaxed, but Kelsey’s skin was still damp and overly warm. Damn. Is she running a fever? Pain shot through Rue’s bruised jaw as she clenched her teeth. She begged you to take a break, but you barely let her rest.
She gripped Kelsey’s hands to get her to straighten.
But instead of the clammy skin she expected, her fingers encountered soft hair.
She wasn’t wearing gloves. Her gaze darted to Kelsey’s hands. What the fuck?
The tiny hairs on the back of Kelsey’s hands had lengthened into… Rue stared. Fur?
She dropped Kelsey’s hands and took a step back. “Kelsey? What…?”
Gasping, Kelsey looked up. Her features were contorted with pain. Or was it something else? The skin around her mouth stretched as if it was too tight. The orange-brown of her eyes extended until just a hint of white remained. Something wild, like a barely caged animal, glinted in those eyes.
A shiver raced down Rue’s spine. Her instincts screamed at her to get away from Kelsey.
“I’m…I’m fine.” Kelsey’s voice sounded like a whimper. “Just need…a minute.”
Rue backed away and stared at the retreating hair on Kelsey’s hands. Moments later, only bare skin remained. Rue squeezed her eyes shut. When she opened them again, she looked into Kelsey’s eyes.
The white of her eyes was once again visible. A vein pounded in Kelsey’s neck, and her face was flushed, but otherwise, she looked entirely normal.
Jesus! Rue rubbed her eyes. She looked around, but the people hurrying down the stairs didn’t pay them any attention. No one else seemed to have seen anything. Am I going crazy? “What the heck is going on?”
“Slammed into the turnstile,” Kelsey said, clearly struggling to speak without gasping for breath. “Got the wind knocked out of me.”
Rue had been in enough boardrooms and meetings with contractors to spot an obvious lie when she heard one. Kelsey’s nervous scratching of her forearms spoke volumes. Slamming into a turnstile didn’t cause sudden hair growth. Rue reached for her cell phone.
“Stop!” Kelsey’s hand clamped around hers with more strength than expected. “Please, don’t call the police. You’re not in any danger. At least not from me.”
Rue squinted at her. What’s that supposed to mean? “Police? I’m calling an ambulance.”
“An ambulance? I told you I’m fine.”
Rue pulled her hand away. “Fine? That’s not what I saw. Something weird is going on with you. If your condition is contagious…”
“No. It’s not. I…” Kelsey rubbed her face with both hands.
For a second, Rue feared the strange fur thing would happen again. But when Kelsey finally straightened, her eyes shone with despair, not with the wildness Rue had seen before.
“Oh, Great Hunter, I messed this up so bad.” She furiously scratched her forearms. “I need to get out of here.”
“Oh, no.” Rue grabbed her arm. “Not before you tell me what the hell is going on!”
Kelsey struggled for a moment and then went still in Rue’s grasp. “Rue, please.”
The whispered plea made Rue soften her grip. “Come with me.” Still holding on to Kelsey’s arm, she steered them toward a restroom, shoved Kelsey inside, and turned the lock behind them. Then she whirled around and folded her arms over her chest.
Kelsey fled to the other end of the room. She turned on the faucet and splashed water onto her face. When she pressed a wet paper towel against her neck, her eyes fluttered shut. In the bathroom’s fluorescent lights, her skin glowed a pasty white; just her cheekbones were splashed with a feverish red color. A shaky breath escaped her, and she leaned against the sink as if her legs wouldn’t hold her up otherwise.
Despite the impulse to rush over and make sure Kelsey was all right, Rue stayed where she was. “Tell me what’s going on.”
Kelsey threw the paper towel in the direction of the trash can, but with her trembling hands, she missed by more than a foot.
When Kelsey bent to pick up the soggy paper towel, Rue had enough of the procrastination. “Kelsey…” She took a step toward her. “Tell me!”
The paper towel bounced off the trash can’s rim. Kelsey clutched the edge of the sink. “Even if I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.”
Q: Romance readers have a lot of choices these days. What makes True Nature stand out in the crowd?
A: True Nature is a fast-paced novel full of action, paranormal world-building that doesn’t overwhelm, and unique main characters.
In most paranormal romance novels, the main character is a dominant alpha type—someone used to taking charge and making decisions. True Nature’s main character, Kelsey, is exactly the opposite. She’s a nederi, a submissive wolf-shifter, yet she’s forced to take charge and guide Rue, the novel’s human alpha character, in order to save Rue’s deaf adoptive son.
Q: We like to include our favorite quote in our reviews of the books we read. What is your favorite quote from True Nature?
A: My favorite quote from True Nature is:
When Kelsey kept looking at her with that Bambi-who-just-lost-its-mother gaze, Rue sighed and turned around. “All right, all right. There. But if you’re really a shape-shifter, I wonder how you can be such a prude.”
Jae grew up amidst the vineyards of southern Germany. She spent her childhood with her nose buried in a book, earning her the nickname “professor.” The writing bug bit her at the age of eleven. For the last seven years, she has been writing mostly in English.
She works as a psychologist and likes to spend her time reading, indulging her ice cream and office supply addiction, and watching way too many crime shows.
The Author Wants To Know:
Can you empathize with Kelsey, my main character? Have you ever been in a situation in which you had to decide between being true to yourself and who you really are and what others expect you to be?