Josette Monier is a seer among the Sazi, and a cougar shifter. She lives apart from others to make it easier to control her talent, as she is able to see both past, present and future in her visions. However, she has done something to anger the snake-shifters, and the last years of her life have been avoiding numerous attempts on her life by snake-shifter assassins.
The latest attempt on her life is only barely avoided, and leads to her house being trashed by the snake-shifters searching for... something. But they have done more than just trash the house, and she leaves barely in time to miss the explosion that destroys the entire house. Throwing the body of the female snake-shifter assassin back into the flames to make it seem that she is dead, she retrieves a packet of documents giving her a new identity and heads off further into the southwest to take possession of a house and car in the name of her new identity.
Meanwhile, Rick Johnson, the man Josette married and lived with until he had to fake his own death and disappear, is approached by the other Sazi with a problem. All through the Sazi, something is blocking their seers from seeing the future, causing their own powers to hurt them. This is caused by a spell, and Josette is the only one who might be immune to the effects, because her own mother subjected her to the spell when she was but a teenager, nearly killing her.
Despite Josette thinking Rick is dead, they want him to go to her and ask her to help them, because they know that she still loves him. Rick is hesitant. He knows that Josette will be hurt by his actions, and wishes that he hadn't had to live away from everyone to learn to control his own power- projective empathy. Not only can he feel what others are feeling, but he can project those feelings to others... or project his own. His powers nearly drove him insane, and he's afraid he'll fall victim to that again, surrounded by people.
In the end, he agrees to go, after discovering that the entire Sazi intelligence agency has been infiltrated by snake-shifters and their entire intelligence network compromised. As they struggle to deal with the fallout and implications of that, Rick travels to Pony, New Mexico to hook up with Josette. There, he discovers that a group of humans have found out about the Sazi and are trying to kill them off. They possess a set of cards, based on playing cards, that hold pictures of Sazi seers and operatives, and as each are dealt with, the card gets a big "X" on it.
But how could a bunch of humans learn about the Sazi, much less know enough to target their seers and agents? Worse for Josette and Rick is that one of this group is the father of a soon-to-turn bird Sazi, and he seems to know about her status, claiming to have a cure for her "condition", and that as soon as she is cured, she will see how much he loves her. The soon to be Sazi, a young girl, knows of her father's involvement, and it has made her very, very afraid. She confessed to Josette, who rescued her, about the group, but it is Rick who investigates them.
While the young woman's father is angry, but not very intelligent, those he works with are intelligent enough to see that he is a threat to their plans, and end up killing him... and his wife and daughter to get Rick to talk about Josette when they capture him. The rage he feels enables him to kill his would-be assassin and escape, as well as finding the ties to the snake-shifters. But he and Josette must find a way to save the Sazi seers before the coming moon change kills the Sazi seers all at once, and then turn back the plans of the snake-shifters, who have a reason for wanting Josette dead. But can he also bring their relationship back to life? They have never stopped loving each other, but when Josette's destined mate shows up, does Rick love her enough to fight for her? Or will he accept the heartache and move on, giving up on any chance to live with Josette for the rest of her life?
I really enjoyed the book, the dangers all feel real and immediate, and reveal the past of a character who has been, up until this point in the series, something of a cipher. In this book we get to intimately know Josette Monier, to see what she went through growing up and how it changed and, in many cases, twisted her. The other characters, Rick included, judge her by what they themselves know, and yet, Rick finally ends up understanding why she hates snake shifters so badly when they attempt to kill her over and over again, as they have for the past few years. When he learns that this is nothing new for her, he says, "Now I understand why you hate the snakes so much."
Josette is often depicted, in other books, as barely this side of sane, but we see she has reason for her actions and feelings, such as being raised by a woman who was herself, completely insane, killing her children off one by one.
The romance of Rick and Josette is sweet, even more so because of their shared history. They may not be "fated mates", but their love and affection becomes even sweeter thereby, that they will deny fate to be together. This book is a heartwarming love story and a thrilling mystery and action tale as well, making the whole much greater (and more interesting) than the sum of its parts. I highly recommend it.