Review: Guardian’s Mate

Review: Guardian’s MateGuardian's Mate (Shifters Unbound, #9) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #9
Published by Berkley on September 6th 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-stars

“Rae looked across the tossing water at Zander Moncrieff and couldn’t decide whether she should jump overboard of leap onto his boat and smack him.”

FINAL DECISION:  Lovely story with lots of action and characters I liked and cared about.  My only negative was that the emotional connection between these characters happened so fast and only the circumstances of the plot kept them apart.

THE STORY:  Wolf shifter Rae Lyall is the chosen Guardian (the shifter who can send shifters to “heaven” at their death).  Her choosing by the Goddess causes unrest because a female has never been chosen from that position.  Now subject to suspicion and derision, Rae’s father sends her to polar bear shifter and healer Zander Moncrieff for protection and training.  Zander is Goddess touched himself and understands the challenges of the “gift”.

There is a reluctant attraction between the two but the threats that surround them keep Rae and Zander focused on working together while falling for one another.

OPINION:  I’m a big fan of Ashley’s shifter series. The series has a lot to say about issues of the day in an entertaining fashion.  I also enjoy how the Shifters have managed to retain their own traditions and identity despite the onerous restrictions placed upon them by humans.

In this book, Zander is a free spirit.  Seen as “crazy” by many, Zander suffers with his gift of healing.  Not only does he suffer by healing, he also knows that he cannot help everyone.  By making himself inaccessible, he limits the demands on his gift. Despite his behavior, Zander cares tremendously about others.

Rae is an orphan wolf shifter adopted by felines.  She loves her family but still feels the loneliness of being different.  Her choosing as Guardian further separates her from others.  She is strong and mouthy and just amazing although she is young and is still developing herself.

The interaction between Rae and Zander is funny and spicy and sometimes adorable.  The two banter and argue and have some hot scenes together.  They both have a core of not belonging that unites them.  Their gifts have separated them from others and this allows for true understanding between them.

The book is a roller coaster with lots of action with different storylines merging and weaving together in sometimes unexpected ways.  The resolution of the plot is surprising and yet completely in line with the story.  I loved how things came together.  Appearances by characters both new and old (Tiger!) never lets the reader forget that there is a larger world and story that these characters are a part of.

I love learning about new types of shifters and I look forward to their stories being told as well.

WORTH MENTIONING:  For readers of the series there are some reveals as to what the Fae are up to (with apparently some human allies).

CONNECTED BOOKS: GUARDIAN’S MATE is the ninth book in the Shifters Unbound series.  This book can be read as a standalone although there may be some learning curve as to the shifter world that this book resides in.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: White Tiger

Review: White TigerWhite Tiger (Shifters Unbound, #8) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #8
Published by Berkley on April 5th 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 335
Goodreads
four-stars

“Addie never paid much attention to Shifters — they weren’t part of her world. And now one had come to her diner to eat pie.”

FINAL DECISION: An enjoyable romp, WHITE TIGER continues to expand the Shifter universe.  As always, the world building is strong here. The sweetness of the romance between Kendrick and Addison is matched with an adventurous story.  The only thing I missed here was a progression in the overarching story.

THE STORY: Kendrick is a Guardian and the white tiger shfiter leader of a group of uncollared shifters. A father with motherless children, Kendrick has lived for so many years in secret in order to protect his family and his shifters, Kendrick has not been able to resist a nightly trip to a diner to see a waitress Addison Price.  When an attack leaves them all vulnerable, Addison is pulled into the world of the Shifters.

OPINION:  I really enjoyed this book because Kendrick and Addison are such a sweet pair. Addie is really strong as a woman and I love her protective instincts.  Kendrick has a hidden gentleness to him and the pain he has experienced makes him wary of falling for Addie but he quickly does even as he wants to keep his distance to protect her.

Most of the conflict in this story involves Kendrick’s clan and a shifter who wants Kendrick for herself.  That part of the story didn’t work as well for me, but I enjoyed the overall story in such a way that I could overlook it.

Aside from the romance, my favorite part of the book was watching Kendrick, with Addie’s help begin to build a home for his shifters.  The sense of finding a home and building a place where shifters can find happiness and community just made me happy.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Any book where Tiger appears is a great book to me!  I love that guy and was pleased to see this part of his story.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  WHITE TIGER is the eighth book in the Shifters Unbound series.  It can be read as a standalone although a new reader might feel challenged by the worldbuilding that has already been done and isn’t explained here.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Wild Things

Review: Wild ThingsWild Things (Shifters Unbound #7.75) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #7.75
Published by JA / AG Publishing on March 22nd 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 220
Goodreads
four-stars

Sweet Romance But It’s The Shifter Info Revealed that Is Really Good

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable with a less experienced Shifter male and a woman who has tried to find love in the wrong places. This novella expands readers knowledge of what is going on in the Shifter universe. Sweet and fun.

THE STORY: Mason McNaughton is a wolf shifter (youngest brother of Broderick from BAD WOLF) is tired of the feral feline living in his house driving him crazy and sometimes trying to kill him. He decides to help search for a cure which leads him to a psychic in New Orleans Jasmine Samuelson. Mason doesn’t believe in psychics but Jasmine is known for finding people and Mason needs her help to find the elusive Guardian healers who might be able to turn the feral back from his madness. Jasmine finds Mason sexy but she has had bad luck with men including a shifter who broke her heart before.

OPINION: This romance is sweeter and less intense than others in the series as this short novella has a lot of plot to get in. That being said, I enjoyed seeing Mason who is somewhat younger and more inexperienced than the typical Shifter in this series fall in love. Mason is really sweet even as he says that Shifters are wild and dangerous. The connection between Jasmine and Mason is quick and there is little conflict between them except for Jasmine’s wariness because of her past. I enjoyed this book especially because of the return glimpses of some of my favorite Shifters. This is not that deep of a book, but it is enjoyable and expands the Shifter universe.

WORTH MENTIONING: Lots of cameos from series favorites! There are lots of cubs arriving soon!

CONNECTED BOOKS: WILD THINGS is book number 7.75 in the Shifters Unbound series. It can be read as a standalone EXCEPT a reader has to understand a bit about the Shifters because it is not explained here.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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four-stars

Review: Bad Wolf

Review: Bad WolfBad Wolf (Shifters Unbound, #7.5) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #7.5
Published by JA / AG Publishing on July 14th, 2015
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 223
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Great Novella with Sexy Shifter and Lots of Cameos

“It was hard to protect a woman who went charging ahead before Broderick could check that the way was safe.”

THE STORY: Broderick McNaughton is a wolf shifter who lives in the Austin Shiftertown. Readers of the Shifters Unbound series will know that the shifters are treated as second class citizens, forced to live in designated town with few rights. They are magical creatures having been created by their enemies the Fae to be entertainment and weapons of war.

Broderick knows something is wrong when he awakens in a strange place. He realizes that he has been abducted. The people who abducted him want information about the Shifters. Broderick escapes and returns to the Austin Shiftertown and his sort of girlfriend Joanne Greene. Joanne is human and her relationship with Broderick is complicated. The two are circling around one another at the same time that they are attracted to one another. Broderick’s abduction brings them closer together as they work together, use Joanne’s skills as a hacker, to discover who is threatening the Shifters.

The mystery includes a murdered Guardian, appearances by and updates about Austin Shiftertown residents and a real partnership between the main characters.

OPINION: I really liked this novella. The story is snappy and I was surprised at the resolution. It was a definite suspense/mystery story. With unexpected appearances and surprise resolutions, this book is a treat for fans of the series.

Ashley does a great job of keeping the overarching storyline of the series moving forward without allowing the plot to become too complicated.

Broderick is a fun hero. Sexy and brave, he doesn’t think much of himself at times because he is not part of the leadership of the Shiftertown. This story, however, shows that he has an important role and that he is important to those around him. He is a shifter who does his job. I especially liked that he is interested in what Joanne does because it is important to her and wants to know more about it only because of the importance in her life.

Joanne is a character that has grown. I liked that Ashley has redeemed this character who was a negative character when first introduced. There is much here about characters not being simply good or evil. Throughout the series, many characters who had negative appearances have their motivations explained, their opinions changed and become better people because of their life experiences. Joanne is smart and able to take care of herself but has learned a lot and has a more humble view of the world.

This is a bridge book which finishes up some loose storylines and allows the story to continue in future books. It is a good one.

WORTH MENTIONING: Readers of LIon Eyes will be happy to have some additional resolution regarding that story here. Also, I was especially pleased to see Tiger again. He happens to be one of my favorite characters and plays an important role in this story.

FINAL DECISION: I loved this novella. Broderick was a compelling hero who seemed kind and compassionate but with a hell raising side. The romance is not as strong here as with other of the books in the series, but the appearances by other characters makes up for it.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BAD WOLF is book number 7.5 in the Shifters Unbound series. A reader doesn’t have to follow the whole series to enjoy this book. This book is most closely connected with BEAR ATTRACTION and the novella LION EYES so readers might enjoy BAD WOLF more if those are read first.

STAR RATING: I give this novella 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Dark and Damaged: Eight Tortured Heroes of Paranormal Romance: Paranormal Romance Boxed Set

Review: Dark and Damaged: Eight Tortured Heroes of Paranormal Romance: Paranormal Romance Boxed SetDark and Damaged: Eight Tortured Heroes of Paranormal Romance: Paranormal Romance Boxed Set by Jennifer Ashley, Caris Roane, Erin Kellison, Felicity Heaton, Erin Quinn, Laurie London, Bonnie Vanak, Colleen Gleason
Series: , Iron Portal #4, Werewolves of Montana Mating Mini #4, Her Angel #8, Dragons of Bloodfire #1, Beyond #2.5, Gardella Vampire Hunters #7
on June 12th, 2015
Genres: Paranormal
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Great Collection of Paranormal Romances

This is a great collection of paranormal romances.

LION EYES by Jennifer Ashley: Bree is a shifters groupie who finds herself with a lion shifter in her truck. He is running from someone and demands that she drive. Seamus is being chased by the authorities who believe he has committed a murder. I really liked the romance between Bree and Seamus. He has an interesting story being part of the renegade uncollared shifters. I also really enjoyed the appearances by Shifter favorites. I thought that Seamus was sweet. This is Book 6.6 of the Shifters Unbound series. Rating: 4.25.

BLOOD FLAME by Caris Roane: Vampire Officer James Conner of the Crescent Border Patrol is a widower. Iris Meldeere is a witch who is a Tribunal Public Safety Officer. In a world where vampires kill witches and witches return the favor, James and Iris at best work reluctantly with one another and more likely have to fight the instinct to kill one another. Thrust into a situation where there are unnatural interactions between vampires and witches and someone seems willing to kill both, Iris and James find that they may have more in common than wanting to kill one another. This story was an interesting introduction to this world but not knowing about this world before, it felt too complicated and took a little away from the romance of the story trying to figure out the rules of the world. This is part of the Flame Series. Rating: 3.5 stars.

TEMPTED BY FIRE by Erin Kellison: Dragon Shifter Thane Ryce Ealdian is determined to avenge the death of his wife and son. When their bodies are discovered, a dispute between Thane and another family over possession of the remains leads to the intervention of Emerson Clark who is a mediator. Orphaned as a child, Emerson knows that she is a bloodkin dragon but doubts whether or not it is true. The story is sexy and intense and I found it an enjoyable read. This is part of the Dragons of Bloodfire series. Rating: 4 stars.

HER SINFUL ANGEL by Felicity Heaton: Lucifer, the king of Hell, is a fallen angel. One day a mortal woman, Nina, is left unconscious in his courtyard. Lucifer is not as evil as might be portrayed but rather has made some bad decisions in his life. Nina has been brought to him for a purpose and he intends to discover what that is. This book has great characters and I was sucked right into the story. Lucifer is a compelling character with an interesting back story. Immediately after finishing this story, I bought the rest of the series. There are mentions of other characters who have stories written about them. Their appearance made me interested in reading their stories, but I didn’t feel that I needed to know that background in order to appreciate this story. This is book 8 in the Her Angel Series. Rating: 4.5 stars.

THE RESURRECTION OF SAM SLOAN by Erin Quinn: Maggie Sloan was left by her husband when he abandoned her and his two children. A year later she is called to his hospital bedside when he is dying from a gunshot wound. Just at the moment of death, Reaper becomes trapped in Sam Sloan’s body when he wants to touch Maggie. When Maggie brings her husband home, she realizes that he is different from the man she knew. The family is threatened by something dark and sinister. This was an interesting story of resurrection and rebirth and also a suspenseful mystery. I liked the story but felt some distance from Reaper even as the story progressed. I did think the romance between these two worked. This is book 2.5 in the Beyond Series. Rating: 3.5 stars.

REBEL’S DESIRE by Laurie London: Toryn Flynn is an Iron Guild Warrior and Keely Weber runs a bookstore with her sister. Keely and her sister were kicked out by their father when it was discovered that they were Talents. When Keely’s sister is kidnapped in order to be sold into the sex trade. Toryn agrees to help Keely find her sister. This was an intriguing story that made me want to read more of the series. I thought the characters were well defined and interesting. This is book 4 of the Iron Portal series. Rating: 4 stars.

REDEMPTION by Bonnie Vanak: Robert Keynes is an Alpha wolf cursed after his Mage lover destroyed the land to which his pack is connected. He desperately needs to break the curse and believes that Aurora Seville, herself a Mage, is the one to do it. I found this story compelling. Both characters have secrets that are slowly revealed in the story. This story is book 4 of the Montana Mating Mini which is connected to the Werewolves of Montana series. Rating: 4.25 stars.

RAGING DAWN by Colleen Gleason: Max Dawson is a vampire hunter whose wife was killed by vampires. Savina Eleaisa has a plan to help kill the vampire that destroyed Max’s family — she intends to seduce the vampire. Very intriguing story with rich characters. Definitely wanted more. A Gardella Vampire Hunters novella. Rating: 4.25 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Bear Attraction

Review: Bear AttractionBear Attraction (Shifters Unbound, #6.5) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #6.5
Published by InterMix on February 17th 2015
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 167
Goodreads
four-stars

Another Winning Shifters Novella

“She was a tall, sexy-as-hell Shifter woman who turned into a bear — not your usual girl next door.”

THE STORY: Rebecca is a bear shifter who lives in Shiftertown. Shifters are treated as second class citizens where they are collared and subjected to laws to restrict their movements and behavior. One night Rebecca is apprehended when she is taking a run and ends up going through a restricted area. She is taken into custody by Major Walker Danielson. Walker is the liaison between the Shifter Bureau (which is in charge of Shifters) and Shiftertown. Walker has grown to understand Shifters and especially Rebecca. In order to save her life, Walker has gotten the agreement that Rebecca will be released into his custody in order to help him find a missing woman who is believed to have been abducted by shifters.

OPINION: Readers join this romance already in progress. Rebecca and Walker have already met and although they had a confrontational first impression, they were also attracted to one another. Months have passed and although the two have flirted with one another, neither has made a move. The novella is about how they finally get together. This novella also solves a mystery from prior novels about the disappearance of the woman. Ashley has a complex story structure in this series. Mysteries and challenges are developed and solved over time and various novels and novellas rewarding the long time reader while keeping each book pretty self contained. Rebecca and Walker are a more straightforward couple than might have been expected and Ashley makes the decision to make the drama about the mystery rather than the romance. It is clear from almost the start that Rebecca and Walker are meant to be together and just need that final push to get them there. I like the story and the characters and was glad to see old friends again.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a new group of shifters introduced in this novella.

FINAL DECISION: A good balance between action, story and character and romance, BEAR ATTRACTION is a fun read. Not as emotional as some of the shifter books, this one is more action adventure with a good dash of romance.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BEAR ATTRACTION is number 6.5 in the Shifters Unbound series. The story, however, builds upon previous books where Walker and Rebecca already had encountered one another. A new reader can start here and be satisfied although it is better experienced after reading the other books in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this novella 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Wild Wolf

Review: Wild WolfWild Wolf (Shifters Unbound, #6) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #6
Published by Berkley on April 1st 2014
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 294
Goodreads
four-half-stars

These Books Are Just Getting Better

WILD WOLF is the sixth novel in the Shifters Unbound series. It is the story of wolf shifter Graham McNeil and his human girlfriend Misty Granger. The two were introduced in MATE CLAIMED and have been together for eight months at the start of this book. The relationship, however, has been kept casual by Graham who, while he is attracted to Misty, knows that he cannot mate claim her. He needs a lupine mate to help strengthen his pack and his leadership position. Of course, he cannot help but want Misty even though she is completely wrong for him.

This book is definitely about Graham. It is he who has to make all the movement in this relationship. He is gruff and quite honestly a jerk to a lot of people, but he is also caring and protective of those he considers his. Ashley does a great job of making Graham a hero while not sacrificing his character as we have seen him before. We just get to see a more complete picture of Graham.

Misty is a good match for Graham. She doesn’t take his being a jerk. She challenges him and he likes it. This is an action packed book and both Graham and Misty take part. Misty is not merely the damsel in distress. This book is also seriously hot for those who care about that aspect.

The relationship between Graham and Misty has been playing out in the last several books and I would recommend reading at least MATE CLAIMED before reading this book just so one gets to know Graham better. We also get to see many of our past heroes and heroines and it was nice to have an update but it might be somewhat disorienting for those new to the series. Reading MATE CLAIMED first will take care of much of the introductions.

This book also advances the continuing saga of the Shifters, Fae and humans. There is a serious development here that I won’t spoil but that clearly will be a focus in upcoming books.

I loved this book. I liked the early books in the series, but the more recent ones have been fantastic. I didn’t like this one as much as TIGER MAGIC, because I just liked Tiger more as a hero, but this book is close. I’d rate it a 4.5.

four-half-stars

Review: Feral Heat

Review: Feral HeatFeral Heat (Shifters Unbound, #5.5) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #5.5
Published by InterMix on March 18th 2014
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 153
Goodreads
four-stars

Sweet Novella in the Shifters Unbound Series

FERAL HEAT is a novella (number 5.5 in the series) in the Shifters Unbound Series. It is the story of Jace Warden (Eric’s son from MATE CLAIMED) and Dani Rowe (sister of Ellison from LONE WOLF). After an accident a year ago, Dani has been waging a war for her sanity as she has been close to going feral unable to control her wolf. Jace has traveled to the Austin Shiftertown as part of the Shifters experiments to remove the collar that controls the Shifters. The two meet and sparks are immediate.

I really liked this book. It is not for a new reader. There is too much assumed in the story, but for fans of the series, it is a perfect bridge story to the next novel. It progresses the story on the attempts to remove the collars. It also nicely finishes the story begun in Lone Wolf regarding Dani.

Some readers might object to the abbreviated story here, but as part of the entire series, it works. We already know these characters and it is nice to have their stories wrapped up.

It was also really nice to get small glimpses of many of the great characters in this series.

four-stars

Review: Tiger Magic

Review: Tiger MagicTiger Magic (Shifters Unbound, #5) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #5
Published by Berkley Sensation on June 4th 2013
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 308
Goodreads
five-stars

My Favorite of the Series

TIGER MAGIC is the fifth novel in the Shifters Unbound series. It is the story of Tiger who had been a government test subject. He has no name and has spent most of his life in a cage. He comes across Carly Randal and immediately identifies this human as his mate. Early is drawn to Tiger, who Shifters distrust but who Cubs love. Tiger exists at the edges of Shifter society because he doesn’t accept all the social constructs. The relationship between Tiger and Carly is interwoven with the mystery of Tiger’s origins.

This is my favorite of the series. I absolutely loved Tiger who is definitely an alpha and yet is a real sweetheart. I thought the story of how Tiger is an outsider even among outsiders was really interesting as well. The story kept me turning the pages.

Loved it!

five-stars

Review: Lone Wolf

Review: Lone WolfLone Wolf (Shifters Unbound, #4.6) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #4.6
Published by Penguin on April 16th 2013
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 151
Goodreads
four-stars

Ellison is a great hero

LONE WOLF is a novella in the Shifters Unbound Series. It is the story of Ellison Rowe and Maria. Ellison is sweet and caring. He is very lonely living in Shiftertown with only his sister, who is having serious problems after an accident, and her two cubs. As a wolf, he misses having more of a pack. Maria, a human, has been psychologically wounded by having been forced to live among uncollared shifters in Mexico. She plans on building a future for herself and having a mate has no place in her mind. The plot also deals with someone who is trying to steal cubs.

I really liked Ellison in this book. He has wanted Maria for a long time but has stayed back and been a friend to allow her time to heal from her ordeal. These two are sweet together. The boo is more straightforward and not as intricate as the other books in the series, but as a novella it is good. Readers of the series will immediately pick up the threads of the story. People new to the series may have a difficult time because there is a lot of inside information tossed out here and no back explanation. The book is worth reader, but start with the first in the series.

four-stars