Written by: Christine Feehan
Paperback: 379 pages
Publisher: Piatkus Books
When Saria Boudreaux finds a dead body in the Louisiana bayou near her home, her first instinct is to go to the police. But there's a problem: it looks like the victim may have been killed by a big cat - and her brothers are all shape-shifting leopards. Sent by the land's owner to investigate, leopard-shifter Drake Donovan is ready for anything - except the insatiable hunger that rocks him when he meets Saria. Deep in his soul he knows that she is destined to be his mate. Torn between protecting her brothers and finding the truth, Saria treads warily around the powerful shifter. Yet as they venture deep into the mysterious bayou on a hunt for the killer, Saria finds herself longing for Drake's touch and the sweet release of surrender.
Last month for book club the girls and I decided to do a beach read. Our task choose the most trashy romance novel you can find based on cover and title alone. Now I used to read romance novels when I was a teenager and had my own little collection of harlequins stashed away. And then I grew up. I guess I started to prefer reading my urban fantasy at the beach rather than a bodice ripper. I wanted plot. I wanted character development. I wanted lines that didn’t include ‘see how my body weeps for you’. Bodice rippers bring out the snark in me. I find them hilarious. But it’s the summer…
So I did what we had agreed. Off to the local bookstore I went. I contemplated your typical bodice ripper full of period dresses and heaving bosoms because let’s face it those covers are great. But I decided I wanted something more modern. Now remember I couldn’t read the back blurb, my choice was based on title and cover alone. Savage Nature. Well now that sounds good. I picked it up. Even better since the title on the cover is in glittery holographic gold. You know it has to be good. The cover itself is a jungly, now that I have read it perhaps bayou-y looking setting with a leopard perched on a tree above a short haired, tank top wearing blonde. I am thinking tomb raider-esque story. ‘She’ll fall prey to peril and passion’. See this might be good. I apparently ignored the whole ‘A Leopard novel’ which in my addled brain I would have taken to mean that the blonde and Nathan Drake are either searching for an elusive Leopard object or that they decide to save some leopards…or something. I should have known it was paranormal romance. Bonus to the cover though it opens up to show another cover of our hero a ripped specimen of man. At least I got some eye candy.
Saria has lived her entire life on the bayou of Louisiana taking care of the family business and her home since she was a girl. With 5 older brothers you would think she would have had help. Instead she grew up to be a fierce and independent woman, a guide for hire and a photographer. One night as she is taking photographs she finds a body in the swamp. But this isn’t just an ordinary murder, it’s a leopard shifter murder and all of her brothers are leopard shifters. She contacts outside help hoping that someone will come in and help her figure things out before someone else dies.
Help comes in the form of Drake Donovan, a leopard shifter and dominant alpha male. Drake is surprised not only to discover that Saria is a leopard as well, but that she is his mate. The only problem…Saria has no idea she is a shifter. It’s a race against time not only to discover the killer, but prepare Saria for what is about to happen, and maybe fall in love as well.
The moment Drake shows up all of that independence, intelligence, and determination goes out the window. Suddenly she is a naïve ingénue that is not only willing to jump into bed with her new handsome stranger, but believe every word he is telling her. She has known him for about 24 hours. This personality shift was so jarring that I almost gave up right there. Plus I think the whole ‘mate’, pre-destined love thing in a trope that I could live without. I find it boring as it takes out any romantic tension of will they or wont they. There is no courtship. No fire. No surprises (even though yes we know they will end up together at the end of the book). I would like to say that Saria is suspicious of this undeniable connection Drake has with her, but not really. She too easily goes along with it even though she has known this man for less than a week.
Now I am a dire hard romantic, but I am also a realist. As much as I want the fairytale romance of love at first sight and all of that schtick. I believe in lust at first sight. Love grows. Love is earned. Maybe it’s because I am a bit of a romantic cynic who has been hurt before and therefore careful with my heart, but I wouldn’t be willing to give up my entire way of life, my ideals, my strength, and my independence for a man I met a few days ago. This is why I gave up on Saria.
I gave up on the shifters because I don’t really buy a couple of things. One, it is rather convenient that female leopards emerge far after puberty (because apparently you’re not allowed to have a sexual awakening until you are in your twenties or however old Saria was supposed to be) and that Drake showed up just in the nick of time as his soul mate was going through this lustful change (*eye roll*). And really Saria didn’t have a clue about her heritage when…EVERYONE…else in the book knew. She discovered her brothers’ secrets, why wouldn’t she discover her own. Someone would have slipped up some time in her life. Now this is the 5th book in Feehan’s series about the Leopard People so maybe there are explanations for all of this in the other books. Somehow I doubt it.
The mystery was fine though a bit forced but fine. The smuttiness fine though please stop saying that a first time is going to be frakking awesome with a large man. I don’t care how experienced he is and how in heat or whatever. Just. Stop. Seriously sometimes I feel like romance novels are written by men fulfilling their wish fantasies instead of our own, but maybe I am just a weird girl. Yep, that’s probably it.
I will say I had a nice picture in my head of the way the bayou looked and all of the locals had nice True Blood accents in my head. So that was a like.
Buy or Borrow: Borrow. In the end this was not for me. I did not find it sexy. It was not a quick read and took itself far too seriously. I’m going back to my Kate Daniels series and have some nice Curran and Kate times. Or hell even look up some of my old harlequins. Gods, I am so not a girly girl sometimes.
Part of:Series. Part of the Leopard People series
Also Recommended: For some shifter romance, try the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs or even more romance heavy the Alpha and Omega series also by Patricia Briggs.
1.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks