Dark South: Shifter

Jace Payne

Kayden Garrett’s ready to head home to Georgia, after four long years in Boston attending university. An unexpected fight with an abusive lover leaves him battered—and cursed, into becoming a werewolf. Immediately after leavin...
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Kayden Garrett’s ready to head home to Georgia, after four long years in Boston attending university. An unexpected fight with an abusive lover leaves him battered—and cursed, into becoming a werewolf. Immediately after leaving the plane, he’s introduced to a man, Paul, who makes his former flame dwindle in the dark. Their connection is instant and explosive. The two can’t explain the attraction to each other, but don’t waste time trying to figure it out.

Between struggling with being a werewolf, and getting in with a local pack, Kayden has to acclimate to being with someone who treats him as an equal, instead of a possession. And all their progress comes to a halt when a dark figure from Paul’s past resurfaces, threatening their newfound love, and their very existence.

Going home isn’t always easy—but for Kayden, the experience is a true test of his strength, his ability to adapt to the shifter world he’s been thrown into, his need to protect his family and friends, and his overwhelming desire to be loved.

  • Note:
    Shifter (Dark South #1)
“Are you going to stop sleeping anytime soon?” Annette hung over the armrest, oddly draped and upside down. I was still lying on my back and looking up at her, which created the strangest illusion that she and the chair were all above me. “You sleep like a corpse.”

Sunlight barreled into the room, burning my eyes. “What time is it?”

“Nine in the morning.” She slid off the armrest and came to sit beside me.

I put a hand over my eyes. “Then why hurry? It’s only Wednesday.”

“It’s Thursday.”

I sprang into a sitting position. “You lie.”

Sometimes, but not today.”

I lifted my arm, expecting an onslaught of pain, but there was none. Looking underneath, there was only an indistinct set of scars where the gaping wounds had been. The ones on my neck had dissipated as well. I was dumbfounded. Her natural remedies were good, but this didn’t make sense. “Impossible.” I eased off the couch, still paranoid of potential pain. “How?” I said, running my fingers over the pink lines, which faded more each second.

Annette chuckled. “Not impossible, just something you don’t understand. What’s important is that it worked.” Her explanation didn’t ease my curiosity. However, I knew her well, and the more I pressed her for answers, the less she’d reveal. I had to be patient.

For the time being, I dropped the conversation. We really were running low on time. “What about your luggage? Your apartment is twenty minutes away.”

“Not to fret. I snuck out while you were knocked out. My luggage is by the door with yours,” she said with a cheeky grin, quite proud of herself.

“But you don’t have a ticket.”

Annette held up a hand. Between her fingers was a ticket.

“Did you build a new house too? Because I could use one of those.” Shock aside, I took advantage of the good news. “I guess we better get moving then.”

She clapped her hands. “Fabulous. At least I don’t have to go home and attend late-night garden parties with my parents and their friends.” She scoffed.

“That doesn’t sound horrible.”

“Well, it’s not…until Ida Snow strips naked and starts dancing under the full moon.”

“What kind of garden parties do they have?”

“Well, they belong to a naturalist group.”


“Yes. It’s not that interesting… Shouldn’t we be on our way? Don’t want to miss the plane.” With that, she swept out of the room to fetch me some clothes that didn’t smell quite as bad as the ones I had on. Two days lying immobile on the sofa did not make for a pretty scent.

* * * *

My parents knew I was gay. They didn’t mind it in the slightest, which differed from the train of thought permeating my small Georgia town considerably. I’d spoken of Annette so much they felt compelled to meet her. Two birds with one stone. They could meet her, and she could continue her treatments, though it didn’t look like I needed them anymore.

Our luck was in full-force that morning. Every light we came upon turned green as if they were expecting us. The cab managed to drop us off right in front of the entrance of the airport without having to circle endlessly. I didn’t even have my lucky rabbit’s foot.

Maybe it was Annette. The cab driver said she was so beautiful he couldn’t bring himself to charge us—the meter read thirty-five dollars, so neither of us argued, quickly exiting the cab before he changed his mind. He had a dazed look in his eyes, like a lovesick school boy. As soon as our luggage was unloaded from the cab, he slowly merged into traffic and disappeared, still smiling wildly.

“Does that happen to you often?” I prodded. Between the green lights and the bedazzled driver, there were too many odd occurrences, and they were starting to add up. But to what, I still couldn’t put my finger on.

Annette brushed off the question. “Every now and again.” She readjusted her purse strap and grabbed my arm. “Enough questions. Let’s go.”

I rarely felt like she hid things from me, but I did now.

I’m not sure how she managed it, but she had us upgraded to first class. We checked in, boarded, and chugged a couple of glasses of champagne. There were two other people enjoying the luxury of fully reclinable seats and complimentary booze, but our section of the plane was empty otherwise. The flight was only four hours long, and I only had to leave my first-class cocoon once. I caught a glimpse of the people in business class, and it was packed. Since I still wasn’t entirely convinced I was fully healed, I was grateful for the upgrade. It was probably best I didn’t have some stranger in the crowd elbowing me in the side. I hadn’t been home in quite some time. Georgia to Boston. And now, Boston back to Georgia. Acclimating to the city had been a daunting task. Now I had to work on re-acclimating to my original stomping grounds.

The captain spoke over the intercom, alerting us to our impending arrival in Georgia. When he clicked off, I called the stewardess. Another round of champagne was in order.

* * * *

Around four in the afternoon, the plane landed. Overhead bags in tow, we filed out into the terminal’s waiting area. I scanned the crowd as we funneled into the open. My parents weren’t hard to spot. Their sense of style hadn’t changed since I’d seen them last, but there was something new. Directly behind them was a man I didn’t recognize. He was tall, scruffy, and built like Fort Knox. I felt a tingling sensation between my legs. I had to readjust myself, and I did it as discreetly as possible.

“Who is that?” Annette whispered into my ear while clutching my shoulder.

“A gorgeous piece of ass.” Even I was shocked by what I said. Annette looked stunned. Normally, I wasn’t so blunt. My mental censor had checked out.

“Shall we flip for him?”

I knew she was joking…sort of. “No. Why don’t we start with meeting him instead of fighting for him like were at an auction?” My social compass was still somewhat on track.

Annette sighed. “Fine, be that way.”

He smiled as we walked over to them. The stark white of his teeth contrasted nicely with his bronzed skin. As did his silver-tinted hair and goatee. Next to my parents, he stood like a Hercules. My parents weren’t that short, but in comparison, it was hard to tell when they were standing next to that mountainous man.

“I really want to climb him.” I quickly shut my mouth.

Annette snickered. “I heard that.”

“Shut up,” I snapped.

Mom ran to me and threw her arms around my shoulders. I had to hinge at the waist to make it easier for her. While doing so, I snuck another glimpse of the mystery man, and he was looking at me too.

“Oh, my baby is home.” Her voice reverberated throughout the airport.

“Momma, I can’t breathe.”

“Give me a minute, Kayden Nathaniel Garrett. I haven’t seen you in over a year. Let me suffocate you while I can.” She swung me from side to side. Using my full name meant business, so I let the smothering ensue.

“Julia, let the boy breathe.” Dad put his hand on her back. When her vise-grip loosened, he pulled me in for a hug—without cutting off my air-flow.

“Can I help you get your bags?” The statuesque man stepped forward, smile still blazing. His thick Cajun accent was smooth as bourbon and impossible to ignore. I had always been a sucker for Louisiana boys, and this unexpected surprise had taken me off guard.

“Why yes, you can.” Annette honed in on him like a heat-seeking missile. “And you are?”

Remembering my manners, I fought off the urge to trip her.

“Paul Devereux.” He took her hand and shook it delicately.

“I’m Annette Winchester.” She took a deep breath, giving her cleavage a little extra height—that it didn’t need. Any higher and she’d have two black eyes. I was shocked that he wasn’t paying them any attention.

Mom wedged in between them. “So nice to finally meet you, darlin’.” She yanked Annette over for a hug.

“Oh…” Annette whipped her hair around, and it landed on top of mother’s head. “Nice to meet you too, Mrs. Garrett.” Her plum dress billowed at her knees. It had a demure hemline but a scandalous neckline. Thin straps and backless. Impossible to be worn with a bra. I could see my dad’s gaze wandering lower and lower. Then came the head tilt.

Dad,” I said under my breath.

“Hmmm?” He looked into my widened eyes. Sorry, he lip-synched.

“I’ll help you grab the luggage,” I said, quite aware that I had pitiful upper-body strength. Paul didn’t appear to have that problem. I guessed he could carry me and the luggage at the same time—and I’d love to find out.

Annette glared as we walked away, mouthing, Not fair.

I winked and smiled at her, then ran after Paul. Seeing him from behind was nothing to take for granted. His wide and thick back tapered to a narrow waist. Each step brought focus to his meaty backside and how it filled his jeans. He could easily be mistaken for that man on the paper towel roll. Only thing he didn’t have was the red plaid shirt. And I bet it would have looked amazing on him.

Stop staring. An impossible feat.

“So do you work for my parents?” I asked casually, trying to subdue the overt curiosity in my voice.

“That I do. They were kind enough to take me in and give me work when I needed it the most.”

I closed the gap between us and caught a whiff of aftershave. It was like warm citrus, and it reminded me of the outdoors, which was funny because I wasn’t overly fond of nature. However, for him, I’d stay outside indefinitely.

“Well, they are good that way. Never guilty of turning down a person in need.”

Paul agreed wholeheartedly. “And I owe them a great deal because of it.” He looked at me with his beautiful green eyes. They were hypnotic—either that, or I was very much in lust. It didn’t feel like it, though. There was something about him that I couldn’t put my finger on, and I vowed to get my fingers on it eventually.

I smiled, and he smiled back. It was brief, but there was definitely a spark between us. I refocused my attention on the conversation at hand. “Even so, they will never ask you for anything in return.”

Paul stopped. “Oh, trust me. I know. In the time I have spent on that plantation, I have gotten to know them rather well. And they have gotten to know me too. They may not expect anything, but they know I will do just about anything for them.”

I smiled warmly, genuinely thankful. “I appreciate you looking after my parents, especially since I’ve been so far away.”

The look on his face could melt even the coldest of hearts. “Like I said, they were there for me. It’s the least I can do.”

The baggage area was scarcely crowded, and by the time we got there, most of the luggage had been claimed, except ours. Annette had packed enough for a few months. Luckily, Paul had already grabbed a cart, so we just piled them on.

“Do you stay in the house?”

“Not anymore,” he said. “I live in the cabin that borders the old woods.” Paul hauled and loaded while chatting, and he never even broke a sweat.

“That run-down shack?” I was surprised. As a child I never wanted to go near that thing. It had been a slave shack in the old days. A sorry reminder of how times used to be. I used to hear strange sounds coming from it.

“That’s home.” Paul grunted as the largest of Annette’s suitcases fell off the cart. Catching and hoisting in one smooth motion, he launched the bag right back up. “She have a body in here?”

“It’s possible,” I teased. “Would be nice to see what you’ve done with it. Do the ghosts there approve with the renovations?”

“Oh yeah. They come round for drinks every so often. Maybe I could give you a tour when you get settled in.” His smile was contagious.

I hoped he was kidding about the ghosts.

“I like tours.” My answer didn’t sound as smooth as I would’ve liked.

“It’s a date, then.”

We returned to find my dad still ogling Annette. Mother was playing with the bottom of her dress. Analyzing every detail. But, again, not more than my dad.

“Not sure your pop’s heart can take all that,” Paul whispered in my ear.

I whispered back, “If not, then he’ll go with a smile on his face.”

Paul and I shared a private laugh. I cleared my throat, and they all turned to look at us. Annette seemed happy to have us back.

Mom released Annette’s dress. “You boys got everything?”

“Ready and waiting to be packed into the car.” Paul took the cart and started for the exit. Now Annette got to see the view from behind. She appeared a tad frustrated that he still hadn’t noticed her cleavage. They usually started working in under a minute, but Paul wasn’t taking the bait.

“Damn it,” she cursed under her breath.

Copyright © Jace Payne


Customer Reviews

A wonderful adventure of self-discovery, and finding out what real love is. Review by Richard
Dark South Shifter is Jace Payne’s first book. But from the writing you would never know that. He has woven together a story of the supernatural, people finding love in a very tight and provocative way. Even though I could see where some of the situations were going, Jace still surprised me with the trip getting there. I’m not going to spoil anything for those who haven’t read it yet. But, I will say this. If you love reading homoerotism then you will love this book. His descriptions of man to man sex is hot, and not overdone. If you love stories about werewolves, witches and other creatures of the night. You will love this story. And thank you Jace for presenting those of us practicing Wicca in a very favorable light and not as the evil hags. If you enjoy stories about revenge, then you are REALLY going to get off on where this story takes you. And if you are a big softy, and just love a great love story, then grab the Kleenex because this is at its heart a love story.
I certainly hope that Jace continues following the main characters of this story. Certainly plenty of things for a witch, and a few shape shifters to get into.
(Posted on 9/14/2015)
A great read that will capture you from the start Review by Bethany
Dark South: Shifter is a well written, fast paced story that will captivate and ensnare you. The relationship sizzles between the main characters from the get go and the romance between them will have your toes curling. Set in the south, the melding of supernatural and everyday life is seamless and brilliantly orchestrated. If you like shifter novels you'll enjoy this one, Jace's descriptive writing is a delight and I'm definitely going to be reading more from this author. Well done on a great debut. (Posted on 9/8/2015)
surprising, addicting, fun, fast paced, hot Review by Eric
this is one of those novels that has you hooked in from the start. it is a great novel that keeps you interested until it ends. and when it ends, you want to know more about the couple.
i loved this novel. it is the first by this author i have ever read but i cannot wait to see what he writes about next. he has me hooked and interested. he is now on my autobuy list.
(Posted on 7/5/2015)
Awesome Book. I Mean That! Review by Kenna
"Shifter: Deep South" was a great book, and I was so excited to get to read it. It had everything that I love...shifters, of course, hot gay men (which means hot gay sex), supernatural elements, a mystery, violence, and all the southern gothic vibes I could handle. The world that Jace Payne created was very well thought out and detailed. I could actually see every little nuance of the plantation, forest, and caves. It was like watching a movie in my head.

All the characters were perfectly written. Kayden, the troubled, recent college graduate, is going home to Atlanta. Before he leaves, he's attacked by a pissed off boyfriend and "rescued" by his best friend Annette. He thinks it was a wild dog that bit him and scratched him up, but you just know it was a werewolf. I adored Annette. She is a strong female presence in Kayden's life. She came and took care of him after the attack. You see, Annette is a fledgling witch. She patches him up with a special salve, and she is ready to head down south with Kayden for the summer. Kayden's parents are precious. They're so happy to have their son and his friend in the house. There's lots of hugs and home cooking on the agenda. Finally, there's Paul. Oh, yes...Paul. I fell in love with him pretty much instantly. A shifter himself, he has an INSTANT chemistry with Kayden. Now, when I say "chemistry", I mean the kind of chemistry where the beakers pop in a flash with smoke. They're SO HOT!

Ok. I'm stopping there. I don't want to give anything else away. The blurb sums everthing up pretty well. What follows is a wild ride that will suck you in and keep you in its grasp until the very last page. Jace Payne has written a hell of a first novel. I can't wait to see what else he has in store. I highly recommend this book!
(Posted on 5/7/2015)
"Hard" to put down! Review by 5amWriterMan
A great MM story with hot shifters and steamy sex scenes. It pulled me in and made it difficult for me to stop reading. Some editing issues at the beginning but once you get through them, the story comes alive. I'm looking forward to the authour's next book! :-) (Posted on 2/13/2015)
Clever, Intriguing & Sensual! Review by Julian
Jace Payne's SHIFTER is a cleverly written and intriguing MM paranormal thriller/romance. The characters of Jayden, Paul & Annette are realistically crafted. The distinctive personalities and histories blend creatively into well-rounded, three-dimensional characterizations. The reader understands Paul's motives when his tragic background is revealed. Annette's powers are more fully recognized once we meet her father. The character we most sympathize/empathize with is Jayden. From the brutality of domestic abuse to his relationship with Paul, the transition Jayden makes is absolutely believable.

SHIFTER's plot is not the usual gay shifter novel format. It's much more! Sure, this one has sex, but it's more than that. SHIFTER are intimate and romantic. They further the plot and are not gratuitous. They help the reader understand the growing passion between the two men . . . and the distance between them that has to be overcome.
(Posted on 2/8/2015)
A Definite Must Read Review by Clint E.
Kayden is returning home to Georgia after having enough of an abusive relationship with Michael. During a parting confrontation with Michael things get heated and Kayden is suddenly attacked by a big black menacing beast...
This is just the beginning of the first erotic romance novel written by new author Jace Payne. I found this novel very difficult to put down. It's a real page turner filled with many surprises. It grabs your attention from the first chapter and won't let go until you finish the novel. His style flows very well, which makes it an easy read, and I must say that the sex scenes are some of the most passionate that I have ever read!
If you are looking for a book that will spice up your reading experience that you can finish in one sitting or savor over a weekend and if you like homoerotica with a supernatural twist, this book is for you. I highly recommend it!
(Posted on 1/28/2015)
Can't wait for more!! Review by Vaudeville
Shifter is a fast-paced paranormal that I had a hard time putting down. Jace Payne weaved a fantastic tale of romance, despair, action, intrigue and a great slice of very human emotions in a not-so-human world.

Not only did I enjoy book one, I'm eagerly anticipating the next in this series. Even the secondary characters are well-written. The author struck the perfect balance of secondary characters that certainly have your attention, but enhance the storyline without overpowering or distracting from it.

Shifter is not for the faint of heart. If you are looking for light and fluffy, look elsewhere. This is a gritty, fantastic dirty book with insta-lust, intense sex and a bloody journey to the Happily Ever After. And I can't wait for MORE.
(Posted on 1/24/2015)
Great First Book! Review by Pam
I've got to admit that books featuring shifters are not usually my first choice but I like to try something new and I'm glad I did I thoroughly enjoyed this! There was plenty going on to keep me gripped all the way through. I liked how the various characters worked together especially Adam with Kayden and Paul. Well worth a read! I'm hoping there'll be a follow up to this soon! (Posted on 1/22/2015)
Loved this book!!!! Review by Shorty
I have to say this is the first book I’ve ever read by this author and I was impressed and stunned speechless by this amazing story about Kayden being introduced to the paranormal world in a violent way after a fight with his lover Micheal. Kayden and his best friend Annette, a witch, head to Georgia to see his family. While there, he meets sexy Paul who is a lion shifter.

Paul was changed during an attack that supposedly killed his wife and left him for dead and his son Brent missing. I was unable to stop reading until the very end, as I had to know what happened the further I read. Mesmerizing descriptions and details all throughout.

The passion between Paul and Kayden was hot. Edge of your set scenes involving fights with the paranormal and an initiation into a werewolf pack add the right mix to this well written book. So much happens that it is impossible to cover everything in this review.

This story has it all action, drama, suspense, romance, werewolves, lions, ghosts, witches, and so much more. This book grabs your attention from the very start and doesn’t let go until the end. Fantastic read.

Highly recommended.

(Posted on 1/19/2015)
Awesome! Review by Laura
This is one of the hottest books I've read. Need more from this author STAT! You won't be dissappointed with this book if you love shifters and love hot sex! I love how quickly they bonded and fell in love with each other. Paul deserved all the love and support. Kayden was definitely a good partner, lover and friend. Laura McShea (Posted on 1/16/2015)
Jace Payne is Brilliant, Wonderful book! Review by Joshua
You fall in love with Kayden and Paul immediately like any good protagonist you can't help but hope they win. Jace does an excellent job of making you hate the antagonists of the book where you can't help but read more to see the full outcome. The Supernatural has never been so sexy or fun to read. Engrossed is the only word to describe how you are when you read this book, you won't be able to put it down it is truly a page turner. (Posted on 1/16/2015)
Great entertaining read Review by Steven
I downloaded this book after it was suggested by a friend. Shifter books are not my normal fair as I tend to read Sci-Fi space and magic types of books. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying this book. My only complaint was there was more sex than I am accustomed to in a book. I felt the story was well written and the story line was easy to follow. I will read more from this author. (Posted on 1/14/2015)
Beautifully Written Southern Love Story with an Amazing Twist! Review by Gary
I ordered SHIFTER as a digital download for my iPad. I was hoping to have a fun read on my long flights.
WOW! What I got was a beautifully developed love story, fantastic characters, and an amazing tale set in Georgia.
The title may give away what and who this book is about, but there were some interesting twists and some surprises that I didn't see coming.
Certainly, the love story, with beautifully described bedroom scenes, is at the core of Shifter. But the character development, not just of our leading characters, but of friends and "family", is what makes this book a standout. I was so drawn in to our leading man's story, and I was cheering him on, that when the romance began, it was a true payoff - for both him and me!
The story moves at a breakneck pace; it leaves you anticipating and expecting. The descriptive nature of Jace Payne's writing leaves you with a perfect picture in your mind of our leading man's home in Georgia, his friends, and his adventures in the woods and surrounding Georgia lands. Setting this story in the South lends itself to mists and fogs, a magical feeling and sensations without it seeming clichéd or hokey.
This was a great story! I want more of the Shifter stories! Please?
This was so good, I read it twice in a row on my flight last night!
Highly recommended for its solid core love story, it's discussion of self worth and values, and for honest and beautifully written characters.
(Posted on 1/7/2015)
The Shifter is brilliant Review by Quentin
I have read a lot of gay erotic fiction that involved supernatural themes but nothing like this! The Shifter has such a different appeal to it. Whilst the sex scenes are hot as expected it's the story itself that had me hooked. Jace has managed to capture the pure essence of all things supernatural in this book. There's the obvious of the shifting which was very well written and really got me hooked but I also love the magical elements which gave me a sense of reverence in the way he wrote it. And then there are the characters. Kayden and Paul who just radiated love, togetherness, romance and sexuality! You could really feel the connnection they shared. Annette the best friend who had such a spunk about her. She is ballsy and takes control. But it's the friendship & love that she has for Kayden that made her so endearing! And all the other characters that are in this book had their own appeal. The bad characters just made you want to hate them.
The way Jace has written this book made me feel like I wasn't just reading it but experiencing it as well. It was like the every chapter jumped out of the page! If you want to really experience a well written, sexually charged, supernatural thriller then this is the book for you!
(Posted on 1/7/2015)

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