Word Count: 37,000 Heat Level: stimulating (three flames)
E-book: $1.99 Print: $6.79
When Dr. Shay McCormick died, there was no white light, no loved one to comfort her. There was a half-man, half-jaguar there to greet her. He's a descendant of the nagual, a spirit guide. It isn't her time and he leads her to safety. Shay wants proof shapeshifters exist. Her curiosity leads her into a world of danger and to Gabriel Cruzado. Fate threw them together, but despite their differences, they work together, trying to eliminate the threat that will destroy their future.
They were destined to be lovers long before he touched her soul and she saved his life.
Demetrius Cruzado loosened his tie as he thought about his visit earlier today from Antonio Vertiz.
Vertiz ran the local pub in town where most of the preternatural beings hung out. He asked Demetrius to look into the disappearance of his son, Tony, a sixteen year-old werejaguar, who went missing two months ago. Demetrius practiced law; he didn’t run a detective agency. Because Vertiz and his father went way back, he made a few calls. To his chagrin, he discovered a rash of missing person reports had been filed in the Los Angeles region alone. At first the cops assumed the gangs were retaliating against each other, but now the faction targeted teenage weres—good kids with no history of trouble.
A few years back, his cousin at the San Francisco PD told him they experienced a similar problem. The police ferreted out a cult—humans whose motto stated: Eliminate shapeshifters from existence. Demetrius knew it had been too quiet.
Before he left the office, he put out a bulletin alerting the nearby were community to watch for suspicious behavior. How he detested humans who acted out of fear and not facts. Weres in general didn’t threaten mankind. Sure, an occasional rogue shapeshifter reared his ugly head, but statistically speaking, humans murdered in greater numbers.
Demetrius headed down the long hall of the family estate glancing at the portraits Gabriel had painted of jaguars, large, strong and determined. Demetrius had to admit his brother’s talent surpassed the conventional in the way he blended the colors triggering the painting to life. At first glance, one would only see the scenery until the optical illusion revealed the animal, as if it could leap from the foliage.
Gabriel finished a painting yesterday for the preserve’s auction. Demetrius hoped his brother remembered to deliver it. With Gabriel’s change nearing its peak, he’d been unpredictable.
Demetrius opened the mahogany wood door to the study, flipping on the lights as he walked in. He dropped his briefcase by his recliner before heading to the sidebar to pour himself a glass of wine. He sipped, the dark liquid held the aroma of mint and black currant. He let the silky texture linger in his mouth before he swallowed. “Aah, exactly what I needed.”
He intended to indulge again, but a sound pricked his ears. His face tightened, his adrenaline level spiked as he scanned the room for the intruder. Spotting a whispery movement near his desk, he placed his glass down, keeping his gaze locked on his prey. He moved with swiftness born to his kind and lunged. He grabbed the intruder by the scuff of his shirt and hauled him up, eager to do damage.
“Holy …” Demetrius bit back a curse. “Gabriel, what are you doing? I almost drove my fists into your skull.” Demetrius let go of his brother, shoving him aside.
Gabriel slumped forward.
“What in the world?” Demetrius’ hand snaked out once more and steadied him. He pulled out the desk chair, letting his brother fall into the seat. “What’s happened to you? Are you hurt?” He scanned for injuries.
“I’m spent,” Gabriel rasped out, his massive shoulders heaving with each breath he took.
Demetrius took in his brother’s appearance and frowned. T-shirt halfway tucked into his jeans; his thick dark hair matted to his head, while trickles of sweat dripped down his face. His normally bronzed skin appeared pasty and blotchy. Demetrius’ eyes narrowed to slits as he realized what caused his brother’s rapid deterioration. “You channeled, didn’t you?”
Gabriel met his gaze. “I had to. A lost soul wandered between life and death. I couldn’t ignore the plea.”
“You know it’s too risky for you right now. It’s near your time. You could have been lost.”
“Better me than the woman I guided back.”
Demetrius’ right eyebrow rose. “A woman? Your grandness of honor staggers me.”
Gabriel breathed an exaggerated sigh. “How do you live with yourself, Demetrius? How do you pretend the souls aren’t out there? We’re the descendants of the nagual. The Jaguar is our brother and we are one.”
“I accept we are shapeshifters. No, correction.” His voice had risen. “I embrace it, but I do not risk my life to save a human who would rather see us dead. I will do business with them, I will live among them, but I will not risk my neck by playing hero in the astral plane.” His cold eyes sniped at him.
“You need a human to mate,” he reminded his brother.
“Need? The statement is a perverse joke in itself. We’re ordered to take one and change them so we may strengthen our numbers. They’re hybrids, Gabriel. I can smell them a mile away. They aren’t born weres and you would be wise to remember the difference.”
They stared at each other with eyes the same color of golden brown. Gabriel took a ragged breath as he spoke. “The woman, this lost soul, accepted me in my were state.”
Horrified, Demetrius snarled. “You appeared to her as a jaguar? Even if she couldn’t project her own illusion, you should have.”
“I couldn’t help it. The changes in my body interfered with my shifting.” His tongue moistened his lips. “She didn’t fear me. In fact she seemed more comfortable with my animal side.”
Demetrius rolled his eyes heavenward. “All fine and interesting, but where was Sandra when you were risking your life on the astral plane? She should have stopped you. Until you bond, you shouldn’t shapeshift or channel. Did you forget what we were taught? I don’t understand why the two of you are prolonging the mating ritual. Do it already or does Sandra find some perverted pleasure from your suffering?”
“She’s gone,” Gabriel stated. He clutched the chair and squeezed his eyes shut.
Demetrius pursed his lips together as he noticed Gabriel’s pallor turn a nice shade of green. “What do you mean gone?”
Gabriel opened his eyes, the unspoken pain illuminating them. “She left me.” He swallowed hard.
Demetrius remained silent until the information hit home. “She can’t leave you. You marked her. She let you.”
“I didn’t initiate the final bite. She couldn’t deal with becoming what we are.”
“Now,” Demetrius threw up his hands. “She decides this now. Dammit Gabriel, you should have taken her anyway.”
“Not against her will. I don’t want a mate who will despise me for changing her.”
Demetrius heard the slight warning in his brother’s voice, but he chose to ignore it. “You only have to mate once every year. She could stand you for that long.”
Gabriel slammed his fist down. The sudden movement cost him. He swayed and he gripped the side of the desk. Demetrius cringed as he witnessed his brother swallow back the bile threatening to come up. After a few seconds, he gained control again. “I want someone willing to take the bite, be my partner for life,” Gabriel insisted.
Disgusted with his brother, Demetrius couldn’t stop the heavy dose of sarcasm from dripping into his words. “Well fool, I can see how splendidly true love has worked out for you so far. You’ve run out of options, haven’t you?”
“I’ll deal with it.” Gabriel leaned back in the chair.
“How are you planning to do this? If you haven’t looked in a mirror lately, you look like shit. You’re body is already giving into the changes and in little over two weeks it will be the full moon and too late to help you.”
Gabriel clamped his mouth shut. The ringing silence drew out.
Then it dawned on Demetrius how his brother planned on dealing with the situation. He wouldn’t mate. “You’re insane.” He threw up his hands and backed away from the desk. “No one has ever survived, Gabriel. Don’t let Sandra’s rejection guide you in your decision. Choose someone else.”
Gabriel rubbed his hands over his face. “It must be my mate’s prerogative.”
“Oh stop being a martyr. So what if Sandra didn’t want to be a werejaguar. If you aren’t aware of the options, it’s also your choice to live or die.”
“You are being overly dramatic, Demetrius. I may survive the change.”
“And be what? If you survive, you won’t blend in with the humans. Your animal side will become dominant.”
“Then put me in the Feline Wildlife Preserve. The Cruzados donate enough money to them? I’ll live out my days there.”
“Fine stupid ass. If you survive, I’ll see you’re placed in a nice cell for the rest of your life.”
“Hey, look at the bright side, I may combust eliminating your worries.”
“Fabulous,” he scorned. “I’ll let our parent’s know their eldest son decided to take a cosmic nap instead of taking a mate. If you were so bent on finding your soul mate, you shouldn’t have wasted your time with a human who didn’t give a damn.”
“She cared,” Gabriel defended Sandra.
Demetrius’ gazed pinned him down. Everyone knew Sandra Tupac’s father suffocated her with his perverse shaman rules. The woman jumped at the sight of her own shadow, but Gabriel loved lost souls. No one could deny he hadn’t tried, but Sandra’s fears were more than Gabriel could handle. “Love is not what it’s cracked up to be,” Demetrius said. “When my time comes, I’ll pay for a woman. We have the money. That’s the advantage of being a Cruzado.”
“I think your plan constitutes as prostitution.”
“I’ll marry her. The Cruzado name alone is worth its weight in gold. She’ll have prestige in the were community and the money to go with it. All she’ll have to do is sleep with me once a year. Frankly, I don’t see how that’s a bad trade off.”
“It sounds cold and lonely.”
“And your way sounds so much better. Now tell me where Sandra is holed up. I’ll drag her ass back here and you’ll deliver the mating bite.”
“I won’t do it. I gave her my word that she would be safe. Don’t you dare give her another reason to fear us.”
“The surprises keep on coming. You knew she feared us, yet you stayed with her. I don’t care how good-looking the woman is the grief she’s given you isn’t worth it. Now you’ll die for her so you can prove your human side of compassion is the dominant. Get over yourself. This is survival of the fittest.”
“I said leave it. It’s my choice.”
Demetrius’ nostrils flared as he scrambled for another argument to sway his brother. At a loss for words, he slammed his fists on the desk and left the room.
“I should handle this on my own.” Demetrius played with the idea before he vetoed it. He might need help. “Lucas could lend a hand.” He played with the idea and cringed.
Demetrius preferred control and insisted on order. The laid back youngest Cruzado, by two years, knew nothing of organization. He preferred to spend his time at the beach, lounging in the sun without a care in the world. All werejaguars loved the water, but Lucas took it to a new level. Beach bum status fit him to a tee. Dark hair streaked lighter by the sun, and his skin held a tropical glow all year round. His wardrobe consisted of t-shirts, board shorts and flip-flops. Demetrius didn’t mind the casual look, but the guy didn’t own anything else.
Lucas was here now. Demetrius convinced him to stay until the special dedication dinner at the Feline Wildlife Preserve. So he’d be here for at least a couple of more weeks. That reminded Demetrius, he needed to find something in his closet for Lucas to borrow. Being about the same size, it shouldn’t be difficult.
He didn’t knock, but burst into his brother’s room.
Lucas leaned over his surfboard, probably examining it for dings. He looked up with an upward jerk of his head in greeting. “Hey.”
“We have a problem,” Demetrius announced.
“Yeah? What kind of problem?” Lucas continued to work on his surfboard.
“Sandra left Gabriel out to dry.”
“Man, that sucks.”
Demetrius rolled his eyes. “It will if we don’t find someone to take Sandra’s place.”
“Us?” Lucas’ attention riveted to him. He put his board down and focused. “Don’t you think Gabriel should choose?”
“He won’t. He doesn’t want to jeopardize the woman. He’s afraid he might harm her. She might be allergic to the were gene. She might die. Blah, blah, blah,” his sarcasm dripped nastily.
Lucas’ brow furrowed. “Sure it might be risky, but he has to take someone. Granted a soul mate would be preferred, but he can’t be choosy now.”
“Exactly.” Demetrius threw up his hands relieved Lucas joined him on the same page. “However, sainted Gabriel will have nothing to do with it.”
“So what can we do?” Lucas shrugged.
A slow smile spread across Demetrius’ face as a plan formed in his mind. “We bring a woman to him.”
Lucas chuckled joining in on the joke until he met Demetrius’ somber expression. “Oh come on. What are you going to do? Hold Gabriel down and hope the woman takes advantage of him. Besides, Gabriel will never forgive us if the girl dies.”
Demetrius harrumphed. “I didn’t say I had all the details worked out.”
“What do you have worked out?”
“Uh …” Demetrius rubbed his chin. Then he remembered something Gabriel told him. He looked at Lucas with a smug smile. “Gabriel channeled.”
“He made a connection with a human, revealing his jaguar form. He marked her soul.”
Lucas nodded. “It could work. The were DNA won’t be such a shock to her system.”
“Exactly,” Demetrius said. “All we have to do is find out who she is.”
“How do you plan on accomplishing that feat, calling every hospital to find out who had a near death experience?”
“No.” He smiled. “You are.” He turned and headed for the door.
“Oh come on, Demetrius,” Lucas whined.
“And,” Demetrius looked back at his brother, his gaze taking in his brown board shorts and t-shirt. “I’ll have a suit ready for you.”
“Suit? What for?”
“For the fundraiser at the Feline Wildlife Preserve.” He grinned as he continued on his way.
“Fine, but I’m not wearing shoes,” Lucas called after his brother.
~All Books Reviews~
Destiny’s Prerogative is a well-crafted story of fantasy and paranormal experiences that grips the reader from the first page.
Karen Michelle Nutt leads us on a compelling adventure of fantastical proportions, a paranormal story in which the feared shape shifters are more honorable than the human shamans who seek to destroy these noble creatures. Love, true love, is an honorable commitment and not something to be taken lightly. It is Gabriel’s credo that is almost his undoing, almost his sad demise. But what is love without honor and respect and commitment?
Destiny’s Prerogative is a well-crafted story of fantasy and paranormal experiences that grips the reader from the first page. It is recommended by: Emily-Jane Hills Orford, Allbooks Reviews.
~TRINAGON REVIEWS~Also Listed on TCM and MBR Review sites FIVE STARS
Reviewed by: Amy J Ramsey; www.trinagon.blogspot.com
Destiny’s Prerogative is a sensational read. Mrs. Karen Nutt has, yet again, visualized an exceptionally marvelous story, one that will charm the reader, snaring them into the artistic world she has created. I am impressed by Mrs. Nutt’s visualization and creativeness involving such a unique and innovative world centered on werejaguars. Mrs. Nutt truly knows how to captivate the reader with vivid characterization and imaginative surroundings, all of which entwine around a well devised plot. I will certainly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in paranormal romance genre.
~BITTEN BY BOOKS~
4 1/2 tombstones
Review by Stacy
Gabriel is a werejaguar and, more specifically, a nagual. The nagual are the herders of lost souls in the spirit plane. They find the souls who have died and become lost, guiding them to safety. It’s a very ancient calling and one that Gabriel takes seriously – a lot more seriously than his brothers, Demetrius and Lucas. Answering the call of a lost spirit one day, he’s faced with a very fascinating woman on the spirit plane, one that isn’t afraid of him in his jaguar-form. Although the time they spend in the spirit plane is short, they connect on a level that makes Gabriel mark her soul before telling her that it’s her prerogative to stay in this plane and pass or go back to her body and live again. She chooses life.
Two very important changes happen in a were’s life: once around puberty when they shift for the first time and another when they come into their adulthood and must pick a mate. Gabriel’s thoughtful, sensitive and gallant nature would never allow him to take a mate by force; it must be her choice. Due to the dwindling numbers of were’s, the mate must be human and be changed into a were upon mating – that is, if she survive the mating and the first shift.
Dr. Shay McCormick works at the Feline Wildlife Preserve. She loves her job and the cats at the facility with which she’s bonded. Throwing herself back into her work after a much needed vacation, she can’t keep from thinking about the dream that she had, the one in the forest with the beautiful jaguar…wait, he was a man, then he was a jaguar. On a whim, she looks up “shapeshifting” on the Internet and is faced with a very realistic and gruesome scene – one with teenage boys screaming and bloody and changing shape into animals, ripping each other apart.
From here, the action really speeds up. If I go into more of the synopsis, it’ll give away the story. There’s kidnapping, intrigue, torture and love. There’s a part of the storyline that the romantic in me loved and was silently cheering for throughout the entire book, all while I was kept on the edge of my seat by the twists and turns handed out in this book. It’s a quick read and a very fast-paced book. I am very impressed with the thoughtful progression of time, the storyline and the depth of character Nutt gave each person in the book.
~Coffee Time Romance~
This is a very well crafted and entertaining story.
I received another review today for Destiny's Prerogative. Four Cups!
Dr. Shay McCormick is a veterinarian who works with big cats at a wildlife refuge. She has a near death experience and meets a man/jaguar who sends her back.
Gabriel Cruzado is a famous artist and a nagual, a werejaguar who guides the spirits of the dead and dying to where they need to go. One night he sends a young woman back to the living and she does not fear him in either form.
Gabriel Cruzado is in crisis. He is about to go into his mating cycle and the woman who agreed to be his mate has changed her mind, his brothers kidnap someone to take her place, but he will not have someone unwilling. In the meantime, someone is kidnapping and torturing weres, before either killing them or making them kill each other. He puts the films on the internet. Gabriel and his brothers must stop this madman as well.
The Cruzado brothers are not your typical weres, particularly Gabriel and Lucas; one is an artist, the other a surfer. Demetrius is a very alpha type attorney. I liked the sequences on the dream plane and the subplot where weres are being kidnapped and killed. Gabriel is a bit too noble for his own good and Shay is the perfect soul mate for him as his brothers deducted. Bly is a bit of a surprise and the ending is very exciting. This is a very well crafted and entertaining story.
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance
~Ghost Writers Literary Reviews~
Destiny’s Prerogative is a wonderful story designed around large cats such as jaguars and leopards. Shay accidentally dies and crosses the path of werejaquar in the middle the the plains between life and death. The werejaquar convinces her that it isn’t her time to die, and that the werejaquar will die if he does not mate by the end of the cycle of the moon. He has established a scent on Shay. Shay becomes involved in shape-shifters quite by accident as well. When she comes to firmly believe in them then she knows their story. Shay is basically kidnapped to help the werejaquar because of his brothers. His brothers believe that because the werejaquar already scented her that she is to be his mate for life. They can only bond with humans it is forbidden to mate with another 'were' because of their dying species. Shay comes to realize that the prowness of the 'were' is irresistible and she falls for him. She succeeds in helping escape the clutches of his brothers. She is then put into the plain of dreams in order to find Gabriel. Gabriel comes to her to find that the father of another were is holding Shay hostage. You'll have to turn the pages of 'Destiny’s Prerogative' to find out what happens next.
Destiny’s Prerogative’ is designed around the traditions and love lessons of the jaguars and shape- shifters, adding a bit of spiritual thinking and non-stop action. It is a unique way of looking into the ‘were’ world and if you love these kinds of stories, you won’t be able to put it down. Great Job Karen!
~PNR Paranormal Reviews~
"Destiny's Prerogative is a thrilling story"
Gabriel Cruzado is a werejaguar, the nagual, going through the normal and last change of his kind. As a nagual he is one that guides souls to the afterlife or back to their bodies. In a short amount of time the change will come on him but will he survive it? He has to take a mate before it is done or he will sacrifice his sanity and maybe his own soul. The change is making him weak but he can't leave the souls without a guide. Appearing to one such lost soul and marking her by accident could change his life.
Shay McCormick is a vet at a wildcat preserve. After having a bad reaction to anesthetic she was declared dead for three minutes but instead of seeing a bright light she finds herself in a tropical setting complete with a talking jaguar that returned her soul to her body. Thinking she is losing her mind she doesn't want to tell anyone about her experience, let alone believe that things like that do in fact exist outside of her dreams.
Destiny's Prerogative the Lovers, is a thrilling, beautifully written, romantic tale. Gabriel is a very noble and charming character. Shay is independent, strong and brave. When you have three gorgeous brothers, one strong, intelligent lead woman and throw in a mysterious figure threatening everything you come up with one breathtaking, fast paced romance story.
Amy Parker, PNR, Paranormal Romance
Posted July 2, 2008
Previously Published by Tease Publishing LLC 2008
Dark Tarot Imprint: The Lovers
Published By: Tease Publishing LLC
Cover Artist: Stella Price
E-book ISBN # 9781934678622