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Sentinels: Kodiak Chained Mass Market Paperback – November 13, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
Book 6 of 7 in the Sentinels Series

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The Underground Railroad
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"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Doranna Durgin writes eclectically and across genres, with an award-winning international backlist in fantasy, media tie-in, anthologies, mystery, thriller romance, and paranormal romance; she also runs Blue Hound Visions, her web design business, and is on staff at Helix SF, an online quarterly. In her spare time she trains her dogs for agility, rally, and obedience trials, or heads for the high desert backyard barn where the Lipizzan lives.  (Website: Doranna.net)

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

If a bear…

Like Ruger hadn't heard all the jokes. Bear, woods, yeah, yeah, yeah.

But he wasn't alone. From where he stood among a small patch of trees, he'd looked down on the unexpected plaids and bagpipes and sporrans and kneesocks, smelled the scents of whisky and wool in the cooling air, and heard a pipe-and-drum band squalling up into full sound over all.

And he'd looked down on this woman.

If a bear finds another bear in the park during a Celtic festival, does anyone notice?

He sure did. And so did she.

She stood outside the whisky-tasting tent with its min-iscule cups of tasting whisky. If any of the humans standing near her had a clue, they would have treated her with more respect. They wouldn't have casually bumped into her on the way to the open tent flap—or failed to see the strength in her short houri form, the beauty of nut-brown skin and black hair and smoky eyes.

She smiled faintly at Ruger and lifted her tiny plastic cup of honey-gold liquid in a quiet salute. Ruger lifted his chin in a subtle salute to the lady bear and eased back into the trees of the hill—not quite ready to give up his woods, thin as they might be. If a bear.

Especially a Sentinel shifter bear looking for quiet the night before a field assignment in the continuing fight against the Atrum Core. One trying to pretend that he wasn't quite himself, still recovering from what hadn't killed him, but had maybe killed who he was and had always been.

Healer.

Never mind the Atrum Core ambush that had put Ruger out of action for months. The bite of Flagstaff's night air, their team gathered in the hotel parking lot where the Atrum Core had been seen, Maks' hand pushing against the hotel door, their tracker's cry of warning—

The astonishing flash of stinking, corrupted Core energy blooming from the room to take the team down.

Ruger's bruises had healed long before he'd woken from the induced coma. And theoretically, his singed senses were, in fact, recovered.

Theoretically. He could sit up here on the crest, thin, gritty soil beneath the seat of his jeans, and he could feel the accumulated ills and ails of the festivities below. He just couldn't do anything about them.

A woman on chemotherapy, smiling brightly to a friend. And there, a middle-aged man whose lungs sat heavy in his chest, and on the far side of the festival, amidst children clustered at a game under the mercury lights, was a youngster with sickness lurking in his bones. Ruger couldn't see him—even a Sentinel's night vision had its limits—but he could feel it well enough.

On a normal night, he could ease the man's breathing, offer the woman energy, and— No, the child was what he was. On a normal night…

Ruger closed his eyes, absorbing the taste and feel of the ailments and knowing—knowing—he could help. Knowing that if he channeled the healing energies that had once come so readily to him, he could…

Soothe…

Ease…

Mend.

He reached, and found nothing. He reached deeper, and found only a deeper nothing, a profound and echoing inner darkness.

Deeper—

The pain came on with the inexorable nature of a gripping vise, increasing to sharp retribution in an indefinable instant. Ruger grunted with the impact, momentarily stunned by it.

And then he was sitting up on the crest of the hill, startled by the sensation of warmth trickling from his nose and into his mustache.

Again.

He pulled a bandanna from his back pocket and wiped away the blood, sitting still in the dusk until he was sure the nosebleed had stopped.

Not so much the healer after all.

Well. He was still warrior. And he was still bear. And Nick Carter, Sentinel Southwest Brevis consul, still counted on that fact—counted on it enough that he'd pulled Ruger back into the field.

Not that he or Nick had much choice—not when mere weeks after the hotel ambush, the entirety of Southwest Brevis had been crippled in the aftermath of Core D'oiche. Ruger wasn't the only one who didn't know how much of himself he'd recover but who had things to do in the meantime. He could still offer his knowledge—and, unique among healers, he could damned well watch his own back.

And he needed to prove it. To his teammates, to himself.

Ruger got to his feet, shadowing through the woods quietly enough to startle those at the edges of it when he emerged. There, just down the hill…the lady bear still waited. Too much of a coincidence to believe, much too enticing to ignore. A bear in the swirling midst of the Celtic fair, tossing back what remained of her whisky, throat moving with her swallow.

She spotted him immediately and pitched the sample cup into the trash, moving away from the side of the tent to come his way—and scooping two more samples from the table beside the tent as she did. So many of the bear shifters were exceptionally tall, on the burly side—plenty of hair, rugged features. Ruger not as much as some, despite his Kodiak nature when he took his bear. Little black bear, he thought suddenly, and knew it true of her—the comfortable amble in her walk, her black hair glinting in the light, thick bangs cut to frame her face and her skin with enough tone so many would assign to South India what came from the bear. She was sturdy and rounded, her eyes large and dark and her nose just a little bit long, her mouth wide and chin gently notched below. Not plump, but plenty of hips and breast packed into a petite form.

Not a woman who would break easily.

She watched him watching her, making her way through the crowd as if the whisky tent rowdies weren't there at all, and when she got there she said, quite matter-of-factly, "You took too long to come over." Not a shy creature, the bear.

"Just thinking about who you might be," he said, looking down on her—accepting, without thinking, the sample cup she proffered him. It felt too small in his hand—but then, so many things did.

Maybe she wouldn't.

He'd definitely been cooped up in brevis medical for too long.

She watched him, her large, dark eyes thoughtful, and he hoped his unbidden thought hadn't shown on his face.

Or maybe, given the speculative light in her eye, he hoped it had.

Then she smiled, just a curve at the corner of that wide mouth. "I'm on loan from Colorado. I knew you were in this area…but so far at brevis it's mainly been wolves and big cats." She frowned in thought. "Though I'm pretty sure that one guy was a weasel."

Ruger grinned, scratching his fingers through the beard beside his mouth. Full beard, short enough to be tidy, long enough to obscure the landscape of his lower face. "Pine marten," he told her. "He prefers to be called pine marten."

She shrugged. "He'll have to watch where he puts his hands, then."

Ruger's hand closed around the tiny whisky sampler; his jaw tightened, ever so slightly. Not that she was his to care about, but.

She laughed, as if she'd understood perfectly well. "I took care of it." She nodded out at the milling crowd. "Lay odds he' ll learn better tonight, too."

Ruger cut his gaze out toward the whisky tent, and found the man in question readily enough. Mid-thirties, a wiry guy who probably thought that scruff at his chin counted as a beard, and who had buckled an ostentatiously large sporran over his jeans—most likely to hold the flask now in his hand. He looked bored with the fair, but not the least bit bored with the sight of Ruger's new companion.

"It happens," she told him, sipping the whisky. Her eyes widened appreciatively; Ruger could smell the peaty nature of the liquid from his own sample. She shrugged, still looking at the man who'd noticed her. "You know how it is. They can tell something's different. They're not sure just what…but they think they want it." She cocked her head at him. "Or maybe you don't know. You've got that forbidding thing going on." She nodded at the thinning crowd.

He didn't look; he'd already seen them. Ladies' night out, three friends in their late twenties who'd struck the right note of agreeably Celtic and casual, ostensibly admiring the silver rings they'd each purchased. A decade younger than he was—none of the scars, none of the same realities.

They had no idea of the battle that had so recently raged across this region, or of his part in it.

He took the whisky, letting it sit on the back of his tongue a long moment before it warmed his throat, and when he lifted a shoulder in a shrug, she smiled, understanding.

He was already talking to the one person in this park who interested him.

She said, "I'm still finding my way around here. I hit the Making Tracks bar last night—I thought I'd see more of us there."

"We're spread thin right now," he said. "If we weren't, you wouldn't be in this region at all."

"To be honest," she said, "I was hoping to find you there. Annorah from brevis communications suggested this place when I didn't."

Of course she'd known of him. There weren't so many bear shifters around that it was hard to keep track. And one did keep track, when entering a new brevis. "Wouldn't be here if I'd realized the Celtic fair was here. Those trees normally make for decent privacy."

"Oh?" She raised her brow, her gaze back to his before it drifted across the breadth of his shoulders, lingered on his face…went briefly lower.

In an instant, every muscle in his body tightened. She smiled, just a little.

Bears. Not game players. Predators. Knew what they wanted, when they wanted it. "I'm heading out tomorrow," she said, as if she could read his mind. Maybe she could—some blooded Sentinel...

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373885601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373885602
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,670,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
The fifth book in the innovative Sentinels series has these supernatural beings who have vowed to watch over the earth continuously battling with those connected to the Atrum Core. Doranna Durgin definitely created an original world when she crafted this series, as the plots are very inventive and there are a whole slew of unique characters to grab the attention. SENTINELS: KODIAK CHAINED is full of action-packed situations that raise the heart level.

Although Ruger James is the healer for the Sentinels in his region, his gift is limited because of what occurred during his last mission. The fact that the bear shifter cannot aid those who often rely on his skills deeply disturbs him, but he knows he can still be a capable fighter and is ready for his next assignment. The night before he is to embark on the latest battle with the Atrum Core, he hooks up with Mariska Banks and enjoys a fulfilling evening with the female bear shifter.

While Ruger did not expect to see Mariska again, the very next day he learns she is not only a new member of the Sentinels in his area but is even supposed to watch over him. He resents having someone keeping a close eye on him, and especially since she is the one who suggested he needed looking after. Mariska actually admires Ruger for all his good qualities, but it is going to take a lot to get him to admit he needs any help. As they get nearer to hopefully stopping a rogue member of the Atrum Core from conducting experiments, they know putting aside their personal differences is crucial as the mission must be successful.

The paranormal and a love of animals are very evident in Doranna Durgins's Sentinels series.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Sentinels are a sensuous race, so when bear shifters Mariska and Ruger hook up for a night of loving, the morning after should be no big deal except for the fact that Mariska didn't disclose that she was slated to be a member on the same strike team as Ruger. Ruger views the fact that she sought out the role of his body guard as emasculating, the warrior-healer who can no longer heal is upset that he isn't going to be allowed to be a warrior either in his 'babysitter's' care. So having blown what Mariska, realizes had the potential to be something special, as well as putting herself at odds with the rest of the team who didn't appreciate the outsider embarrassing Ruger, the search to find the bad guy and thwart what a seer thinks is a plot that could mean the end of the Sentinel's is off to a rocky start and any hope they have of succeeding depends on Mari winning back Ruger's trust.

Though the niche for these Nocturne novella length light paranormal reads is being squeezed by small press and indie pubbed fare, Durgin's Sentinels mini-series still has a place in my heart. I really enjoy the shapeshifting Sentinel's and the bearshifter/bearshifter pairing this time around is a good one. I didn't really 'get' the 'betrayal' which Ruger views Mariska's lack of disclosure as being, especially since he is willing to be with her 'in the moment' later on. But I do like the way that they solidify into a team, once Ruger finally admits his limitations. So I ended up enjoying Kodiak Unchained and hope that Durgin continues revisiting her Sentinels in more books in the future.

Durgin's Sentinels:

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"Kodiak Chained." Ruger James the Kodiak bear shifter was a Sentinel warrior and Healer. When Atrum Core's ambush leaves him severely wounded, he cannot heal himself quick enough before another attack will finish the assassination. Using her olfactory sense, Sentinel black bear shifter Mariska Banks rescues him. They team up in search of an experimental lab that conducts vicious tests on animals in order to discover the way to eradicate the Sentinels. As they face an amoral enemy, each knows the other is his life mate, which in these dire circumstances may not be a good thing. The latest Sentinels romantic fantasy (see Tiger Bound) is enjoyable entry due to lead pair as each has the other's back while battling Core evil.

"The Gatekeeper" by Heather Graham. In Las Vegas, Elven detective Saxon Kirby investigates which werewolf went rogue and left behind a chewed up corpse at a tourist attraction. The inquiry leads to hybrid elf-werewolf dancer Calleigh McGowan, who hunts the same killer. The short story prequel to the upcoming Keepers saga is an engaging investigative romance.

Harriet Klausner
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What an amazing book! This was not my first encounter with bear shifters and it most definitely will not be my last! Rugar had me from the very first page, he's a strong and handsome Sentinel Warrior and healer, who also just happens to be a bear shifter. Can you get any hotter?

There were many things about this book that I enjoyed. I loved that Rugar and Mariska were of the same species, and were able to open themselves to love. Mariska's redeeming quality for me was that she wouldn't let Rugar's ego get in the way of her feelings toward him. This alone made me love this couple that much more. I also enjoyed the truly unique storyline that "Sentinels: Kodiak Unchained" had to share.

My overall feelings about this book are entirely positive, I loved the main characters and even the side characters. I fell in love with idea behind the story quickly, and I can't wait to see what happens next in this series. This may have been my first book by this author but I feel as if I have been with these characters since the beginning.

Reviewed at: HarlequinJunkie.com
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