Life can change in the blink of an eye, as Carissa James discovers while on an ill-fated business trip. Kidnapped, injured and left to her own wits in the frozen wilderness of the Grand Teton Mountains, she battles the elements for survival with nothing more than a spiritual guide, a white wolf, to see her through.
Bryce Matheny, though, knows all too well what can happen when the Fates play games with the lives of mortals. One moment on a dark highway and his beloved wife is gone. Left scarred and embittered, ostracized by society as a branded killer, he leaves the world behind, retreats to a mountain hideaway where he intends to live out the rest of his years, alone.
Another dark night changes Bryce's life forever when the howl of a wolf and the insistence of his faithful dog drag him from the safety of his cabin into the raging winter storm. That's when he finds Carissa, half-dead, buried in the snow.
Afraid she will see him as a monster, he tries to hide his disfigured face. When he finally allows her to see, he is struck by the pure desire in her eyes. He wants to share that desire with her, but wonders if it still lives within him as he watches her scantily clad body reclining on his bed.
Passion wins and love is born, but the moment cannot last. She has no choice but to return to her children and her home.
For Bryce, life without Clarissa is sheer torture. Haunted by the memory of her soft caresses and fiery green eyes, he becomes a man possessed. But does he have the strength to face his past and go in search of her? Will his damaged soul once again find her to be his shelter from the storm?
Kiki Howell, Authors by Authors
"I was captured...by this story from the warning tones of the first pages..."
Dakota, Dark Diva Reviews, 4.5/5 DIVAS
"I absolutely loved Shelter From the Storm and suggest any who read it have a hanky ready."
"All done," she said brightly. "That wasn't so bad, was it?" Standing back to see her handy-work she was struck by the pure manly beauty of him that caused butterflies to stir in her belly.
He watched her face as she appraised him, seeing his own burning hunger reflected in her eyes. Feeling with his fingers, he discovered just how close she had cropped his facial hair. There was not much left. The question of whether she would still find him desirable if she could see the damning scars played over and over in his mind until he found himself handing her the antique razor from the box.
"Finish it," he said, meeting her gaze directly.
She smiled brightly, but the smile soon gave way to a worried frown. "Um, are you sure you want me to do this? I've never wielded one of these things, you know."
"I trust you," he answered, his voice soft and husky.
Digging the strop out of the bottom of the box of toiletries, she hooked it on the back of his chair, dragging the blade of the razor repeatedly along the length of it. Bryce cringed inwardly with each metallic sound of the cutting edge being sharpened. Something akin to an icy fist seemed to be clenching around his heart, tightening with each passing moment.
Letting out a small giggle she brushed the lather over his beard in increments until all the black hair was covered. Carissa took a deep breath then pushed his face slightly to the side before dragging the blade down his right cheek.
As she moved to wipe the spent shavings onto a towel, he tried to think of something to distract his mind from his ragged nerves. "So, how did you learn to cook so well on a wood burner?" he asked by way of making conversation.
"Don't talk or you'll end up with a nasty gash," she admonished, stopping to sharpen the blade again.
He held up his hands in a half-hearted attempt to play the game, but waiting for her to discover what was hidden under the remaining hair on his face was nerve-wracking at best. He had no way of knowing at that point Carissa had found what she saw so far to be very much to her liking, or that she was daydreaming about being kissed by the sensual lips that were now visible. The only thing he knew was the fear that she would be repulsed by the destroyed left side of his face. He took another deep breath, anticipating the disgust he would see in her eyes, or worse, pity.
"You're going to have to hold very still. This side is a bit rough and I don't want to nick you," she warned softly as she laid the blade to his skin.
Carissa continued in silence until the job was done. Cleaning the remains of the lather away with a damp towel, she stood back to look. What she saw took her breath away and turned her insides gooey. She thought that if she had met this man under different circumstances he would already be parking his boots under her bed.
He had a strong, square jaw and a full sensual mouth that she knew had to have the ability to kiss her witless. There was a narrow scar that ran from the left corner of his mouth up to the hollow of his cheek where it spread out in all directions in a pattern similar to a spider web. Somehow the scar only added to the masculine nature of his face, making him all the more appealing to her eyes. A shudder of pure heat shot through her body, bringing a pink flush to her face, as she stood silently taking in the sight of him.
Bryce caught her shudder, disappointment bringing his hope down as he misinterpreted her reaction. Unable to look at her, unwilling to see the aversion he knew would show on her face, he closed his eyes. This would be the end of it, the hope, the dreams of her in his arms, everything.
"Damn, boy," Carissa fairly purred. "You're a hunk. You've done the women of this world a huge disservice by hiding yourself up here."
When Bryce opened his eyes it was to see the naked desire that burned in the immeasurable depths of her olive-green eyes. He knew instantly that what he saw could not possibly be an act, so raw was the visible emotion. She was so near that he could reach out and seize her, take her into his arms and crush her to his body; all he had to do was reach
Bryce was on his feet in an instant, grasping her soft arms, pulling her into his embrace, descending upon her mouth in a voracious kiss. His lips worked over hers, feeling her mouth open softly, welcoming him unconditionally. The sound of her impassioned moan set his blood to boiling as his body shook with a need that nearly over-powered them both.
His tongue invaded, seeking and finding hers to entwine in a dance as frenzied as the wind that howled outside. Finally, he was forced to release her lips as the need for oxygen had them both panting. She was clutching his shirt, gasping and leaning heavily into him, her lips trembling as her little pink tongue darted out to taste the essence of the kiss that had so affected them both. He captured her mouth again, sucking on that delicious little morsel, unable to get his fill.
He came up for air a second time, struggling to regain control of his unruly need. "Cari," he rasped against her forehead. "If you want me to stop, tell me now. I don't think I can control myself much longer."
Carissa tilted her head back, reaching up, pulling his face down to hers. "Control is over-rated. I want you, Bryce. Make love to me." Her voice, throaty and soft, was a plea, begging him to take her, to make her his. "If you stop now, I may never recover."