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Shifting Sands (MM)

Strength of the Pack 4

Siren-BookStrand, Inc.

Heat Rating: SCORCHING
Word Count: 50,882
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[Siren Classic ManLove: Erotic Alternative Paranormal Romance, M/M, werewolves, HEA]

The visit to Elk Ridge is supposed to be just another assignment for Tom Barrington. Then he encounters Bryce Reynolds, a generous, warmhearted cowboy who has the easiest smile he’s ever seen. It doesn’t take long for Tom to break all his rules and end up in Bryce’s bed.

Bryce Reynolds believes there’s no such thing as a hot politician, right up until he meets Tom Barrington. Tall, dark, and principled, Tom overturns all of Bryce’s prejudices, and Bryce starts to forget that he doesn’t do serious and he doesn’t do commitment.

As Bryce and Tom struggle to make sense of what’s happening between them, they’re drawn into a political battle—one which could affect the future of every shifter. And when long-buried secrets start coming to light, things turn deadly. Nothing will ever be the same again for the Elk Ridge pack.

A Siren Erotic Romance

Professional Reviews

"‘Shifting Sands’ is a very apt title for this story – it has more twits and turns, political shenanigans, and changes in perspectives and alliances than some books twice its size! The background story of a mythical Argent having been found alive and well, the one that has been brewing in the background ever since Jesse was recognized as a member of the royal wolf-shifter line, is coming into full bloom in this fourth volume. It features Bryce, the Elk Ridge pack beta, and one of the political aides from the National Wolf Council as main characters, and both of them are right in the middle of the explosive series of events that will change the future of all shifters. Bryce is the Elk Ridge pack beta, loyal to a fault, and unwilling to even entertain the idea of commitment. I had to smile at his attempts to ignore and dismiss the growing intimacy between the three new couples, thinking “he doth protest too much” the whole time. He may give in to the physical attraction he feels toward Tom, but he is determined that is all it is. Bryce does not believe in mates, worse, he actively despises the idea of having a partner chosen by fate or genetics or whatever the heck it is that determines who his mate is. So when he realizes Tom is his mate? He denies it all, rejects Tom and hurts him deeply. Tom has just come out of a long-term relationship with a partner who belittled him, and told him he is boring. It destroyed his self-confidence, so when he runs into Bryce, begins to fall for him, only to be cruelly rejected, Tom takes it harder than he might have otherwise. He still does the right thing to help protect Matt and Jesse’s pact, and even the deadly danger he faces cannot stop him. But when Bryce comes after him and the situation gets out of hand, both he and Bryce realize a few truths about their relationship that mean they may need to reconsider he whole “mate thing”. If you like shifter stories with men who fall for each other despite their best efforts, if you want to read about pack politics and national shifter interests, and if you’re looking for a read that is deeply emotional as well as an action/adventure that will keep you in suspense, then you will probably like this novella. Personally, I cannot wait for the next installment." -- Serena Yates, Rainbow Book Reviews

5 STARS: "Bryce is surrounded by happily mated wolves and has no desire to find his own mate. Fate, however, has other plans.Tom wanted to be an Air Force pilot for as long as he could remember, but when a routine screening trampled those dreams he eventually moved on. Now he's working in Washington DC as a trusted aid to the most powerful woman on the National Council of Shapeshifters. When the existence of a rare Argent wolf is confirmed, Tom is dispatched to Colorado to prepare for the Council members' arrival. Emotionally battered and sexually disinterested following a nasty breakup with his long term boyfriend, the last thing Tom expects is to be captivated by a pair of dark blue eyes paired with an easy smile. Tom quickly realizes that Bryce's good looks are just icing on the cake, and a complement to his genuine honesty, unmistakable intelligence, and easygoing nature. Bryce is up front with Tom from the beginning; he's hoping to get lucky but only with the clear understanding that there will be no strings attached. Tom's wicked grin, lithe form and focused strength showcase a dangerous edge, but his genuine goodness makes Bryce feel safe in his arms. While thoroughly enjoying each other's company, neither man is looking for more, but when the realization dawns that they are mates, Tom feels like he couldn't have been given a better gift. When Bryce refuses to accept the bond, Tom is devastated. When dangerous circumstances draw the two men back together, they must face their true feelings or risk losing each other for good. Another well written and fast paced adventure, SHIFTING SANDS is the fourth book in Joy Lynn Fielding's Strength of the Pack series that focuses on the Elk Ridge wolf pack members. Best read in sequence due to recurring characters and a continually developing story line, SHIFTING SANDS is action packed and emotionally engaging. Her Alphas are strong and sensual, an erotic combination that is sure to win every time!" -- Carly-RuralMom, The Romance Reviews

5 SWEET PEAS: "I absolutely love the Strength of the Pack series by Joy Lynn Fielding. Shifting Sands is book four and my interest in this world and its characters is still going strong. Ms. Fielding has mastered the art of enticing the reader and stringing them along until they just cannot help but want more. I have been waiting for Bryce’s story for a while. He has been the one character that has intrigued me the most. While every one of the characters has a past, Bryce’s situation has not been as obvious. The rest of the shifters are brooding or quiet or easy to anger. Bryce on the other had appears to be the carefree playboy beta wolf. Each book so far has hinted that there is more to his story and after reading Shifting Sands, I was not disappointed. His tale is full of self discovery and angst. I finally got a glimpse into his past and what motivated him to only want meaningless sex. Knowing his struggles made his HEA that much sweeter. I really liked that Ms. Fielding presented the idea of fated mates a little differently that I am used to. Yes, mates are destined to be together, but the MCs didn’t instantly recognize or accept their mated status. Bryce fought hard against giving in to some higher power that deemed he and Tom were meant to be together. He wanted nothing more than for their love to be based on true desire rather than something in their genes. It was refreshing to see a shifter tale that did not involve instant love. Yes, the mate status helped the love along, but the MCs wanted more. I really liked that Ms. Fielding broke away from the mainstream shifter mentality of simple acceptance of destiny no matter what and didn’t rush into a HEA. The men had to work for it a bit. Shifting Sands easily picked up exactly where the previous book left off. From the very first page, the argent story line is in full swing without missing a beat. Ms. Fielding effortlessly stays true to the previous plot elements and character personas, making sure all her details are accurate from one title to the next. It really makes for easy reading when I don’t have to go back and retrace my steps to understand what is happening. I loved that the plot keeps moving forward. Shifting Sands answered many questions left from previous books and left me wondering what will happen next? Who will be the next shifter to find his HEA? Is the struggle to control the Argent over or will someone else take the bait and try to use the argent to further his/her attempts to control power? This is my second review of Ms. Fielding’s Strength of the Pack series and I still have only good things to say. Her world is very well developed and well executed. She captured me from book one and I cannot wait for what will happen next. I recommend this for all shifter fans." -- PizzyGirl, Mrs Condit and Friends Reads Books

4 HEARTS: "The sexy wolf pack from Elk Ridge returns in a political battle between members of the National Council wanting to control the only known Argent, and the struggles Matt faces in deciding to get the upper hand in letting people know about Jesse. As part of this whole struggle, Bryce Reynolds, Matt’s second, has to handle security screenings by political aides before some high-ranking council members come to visit. All this hassle becomes even more of a problem when Bryce is immediately drawn to Tom Barrington, the aide sent to do preliminary work, and Bryce makes an offer of a no strings attached fling. Toms’ first reaction is to turn him down, stay professional, but it’s been so long since his breakup, and he is attracted to Bryce’s forward honesty, and takes advantage of the offer. Problem is, for both of them the attraction seems much stronger. In fact, Bryce soon realizes that Tom is his mate. Bryce, who lives free of commitment, who doesn’t want to be saddled with a fated mate, he wants real love, but feels his heart is still bound to a man who won’t ever love him like that, Matt. So we have Bryce with commitment issues, Tom with strong feelings of rejection from a failed past relationship and then from Bryce, Jesse and Matt trying to handle being in the spotlight, and all along the politicians from the National Committee may be involved in the slaughter of Jesse’s old pack. Betrayal, murder attempts, and a chase to the capital all come to death-defying heights in Shifting Sands. There are hot passionate moments, punch in the gut rejections, and a nail-biting run and fight for life and justice. This book wasn’t as violent as some of the past, and maybe it contained a bit less angst, but I liked the political thriller bit. A smooth read and a fun series." -- GiGi, Mm Good Book Reviews

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Excerpt

 

STORY EXCERPT

 

Bryce was just leaving Karl’s bunkhouse when Tristan rushed over to him, out of breath and excited.

“He’s here,” he said eagerly. “Tom Barrington, Councilor Steadman’s aide.”

“Oh, joy,” Bryce muttered.

“Bryce. I know what you think about politicians, but Councilor Steadman’s different.”

“If you say so,” Bryce said, heading toward the house. “Is this guy another obnoxious twelve-year-old?”

Tristan smirked suddenly. “I’ll leave you to find that out for yourself,” he said, changing course across the yard to meet up with Colby, who was standing waiting for him. “We’ll be in the barn cleaning tack if you want us to show Tom around later.”

“I already told you, no sex in front of the horses. I don’t want them traumatized,” Bryce called after him.

Tristan sighed loudly. “I’m teaching Colby to ride,” he yelled back reprovingly. “Horses!” he added hurriedly, and Bryce grinned. Tristan was so easy to tease that some days it felt like he was still fourteen years old.

Speaking of fourteen-year-olds…He pushed open the door, prepared for another snotty pen pusher like Taylor Cufflinks the Third, or whatever his stupid name had been. Because of that, it took him a moment to process that he was seeing what he thought he was seeing and that he hadn’t found himself in the middle of a really good dream. Except if it was a dream, presumably this guy would already be naked rather than standing pouring himself a cup of coffee while dressed in a crisp white shirt, open at the neck, and gray slacks that should have been illegal given the way they clung to the curves of a frankly spectacular ass.

If Tom Barrington was a pen-pusher, it was a pretty heavy pen he pushed on a regular basis, because those were definite muscles betrayed by the fit of his shirt. His hair was dark and just a little wavy, his cheekbones were sharply defined beneath flawless skin, and there was the suspicion of a five-o’clock shadow on his jaw, which somehow emphasized just how strong that jawline was.

Bryce was still staring when Tom looked up and gestured with the mug he was holding. “Hope you don’t mind,” he said, then paused.

Bryce was aware that he was being studied in return and stood a little taller, opening himself up for inspection by rich brown eyes. It seemed Tom liked what he saw, because he looked for longer than was strictly polite. Bryce grinned at him when his eyes returned to Bryce’s face, and Tom suddenly looked away, biting his lip slightly as if he’d been caught doing something he shouldn’t have been. Even that didn’t stop him sending another look sideways at Bryce, and the combination of that with the way his teeth were sinking into his plump lower lip had Bryce’s stomach tightening with arousal. This security check might be a hell of a lot more pleasurable than he’d figured. And he was not thinking about Tom Barrington and body searches in the same breath, because that wasn’t helping things settle down in the least.

“Sorry to have kept you,” he said, and sat down at the table. “I figured you’d be another twelve-year-old.”

Tom stared at him, and then he grinned. It was a really good look on him. “I forgot—you had Bressingham visit you, didn’t you?”

“I wondered if it was ‘take your son to work day’ but mom or dad got lost en route,” Bryce said.

“He’s one of Cheung’s protégés. He’s got potential, apparently.”

“Or a daddy with deep pockets to contribute to a re-election campaign,” Bryce said, and pushed the sugar bowl across the table. Tom nodded in thanks and took a spoonful.

“So what do you need to know?” Bryce asked, all business again. The thought that the sooner they got business done, the sooner they might get to other things was not in his mind at all. No way.

It turned out to be pretty much what he’d expected. Tom broke out a tablet on which he already had a list of pack members’ names. He jotted down the brief additional details Bryce offered and asked some open-ended questions, which Bryce answered in a meandering way that gave away precisely nothing. Then Tom wanted to examine for himself the potential hostile zone.

“You mean the house and ranch?”

Tom’s lips curved again into that grin. It did something quite remarkable to what was otherwise a serious-looking face, and Bryce found he wanted to keep seeing it. “Sorry,” he said. “Occupational hazard, using jargon.”

“I hear you,” Bryce said. “Like when I exit the vehicle in the vicinity of the building, rather than get out of my car at home.”

The grin widened. “Is it okay if I take a look around? I’d like to see your territory as well as the house.”

Even though Bryce found himself smiling back, he was aware that there was a lively intelligence in those brown eyes. They might be smiling, but Tom’s focus on what he was here for hadn’t faltered in the slightest. Given the secrets that the pack was guarding, that made him a little dangerous.

 

ADULT EXCERPT

 

When he rounded the corner of the barn and finally saw him, he crashed to a halt. Because Bryce…Bryce might as well be doing a photo shoot for a porn site. Dear God,he was a wet dream come to life. He was stripped to his white undershirt, and his broad shoulders and muscular arms glistened slightly with sweat. His dark jeans clung to his long, lean thighs, while the large buckle on his belt drew Tom’s gaze to his crotch. Even the leather gloves on his hands had Tom shivering, washed with alternating heat and cold as he stared at Bryce, who was picking up a couple of beams. Muscles flexed in his arms and where his undershirt clung to his abs as they took the strain.

Becoming aware of his presence, Bryce dropped the lumber back onto the pile and looked up at Tom. And God, no matter how fucking gorgeous he was in every other way, it was his eyes that Tom loved. No artifice, no judgment—he had no doubt that, with Bryce, what you saw was what you got, and right now that was pleased surprise and fast-building desire.

“I—uh—yeah,” Tom said, because he had no words. No words except to say that how Bryce looked right now was like every dream he’d ever had of a perfect guy, and how he would spend the rest of his life remembering this moment.

Bryce didn’t seem affected by whatever it was that had Tom’s feet glued in place. His smile grew and he prowled across the open ground between them, his loose-limbed grace making Tom lightheaded. Or maybe it was the way all his blood had gone elsewhere that made the world swim around him, because his cock was hard as nails. His lips were parted as he tried to breathe, but that became more and more difficult as Bryce’s eyes darkened, his tongue flickered over his lips and his gaze was on where Tom was so obviously, desperately hard, his cock pressing shamelessly against the soft gray material of his pants.

Bryce closed the last few inches and the smile in his eyes had turned to want and urgency. His mouth on Tom’s was heat and need and so good, the taste of him dark and intense and everything Tom had ever dreamed of. Tom was rubbing against the long thigh Bryce had pushed between his legs, shameless and needing. And when Bryce pulled his shirt out from his waistband and touched Tom, he shuddered all over, mewling into Bryce’s open mouth, because he was still wearing those leather gloves and the feel of soft leather on his skin did something to Tom nothing else ever had. He was gasping, his eyes closed, as he tried not to come in his pants like a teenager.

Bryce tore his mouth from Tom’s and buried it in his neck while his gloved hands swept over Tom’s back, and then one of them was on his chest. Supple leather, warm from Bryce’s body, was rubbing over his nipple. Tom whimpered. “Please,” he got out.

Bryce slowly unzipped him, every snick of the zipper an unbearable tease. The gloves didn’t make it easy for him, but he was very clearly not going to discard them any time soon, and as he eased Tom’s pants and underwear over his hard cock, Tom had never been more glad of anything in his life. Because oh, fuck—soft, warm leather surrounded his cock while Bryce’s tongue was pushing into his mouth and he wasn’t going to survive this. He was rutting into Bryce’s hand, mindless and wanting, blind with need, aware of nothing except Bryce and how good this was.

“Easy, there,” Bryce whispered into his ear, his breath hot and doing nothing to help Tom. And then he was moving Tom, who went willingly wherever it was Bryce was pushing him, till he found himself pressed up against the wall of the barn, sun-warmed wood beneath his hands and against his cheek as he heard Bryce’s jagged breathing and the rasp of his zipper opening.

“God, how are you so—?” Bryce asked, his voice rough and wild, like the feel of a full moon. He nudged Tom’s legs further apart, and pressed up against him, his cock so hot and hard against his ass as Tom whimpered and tried to position himself so Bryce could just push into him. But instead there was the cool slickness of a lubed finger pushing inside. For an insane moment, Tom wanted to groan with disappointment that it wasn’t the leather glove inside him, opening him as he writhed and pushed back on the fingers inside him. “Please,” he gasped again, “Bryce.”

And then Bryce was holding him open, one hand still gloved and one not, and Tom couldn’t tell which felt better—the touch of leather, or Bryce’s skin on him—as Bryce pressed slowly deep inside, so hard and thick. Tom sobbed, pressing his cheek against the roughly planed wood. Its coarse texture grounded him as Bryce drove in, again and again, fucking him harder and faster than he’d ever been fucked before, and feeling so damn good, deep inside him.

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