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Monday, January 9, 2012

Claws and Effect: Diaries of an Urban Panther by Amanda Arista

Claws and Effect: Diaries of an Urban Panther by Amanda Arista
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (332 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Violet Jordan Rule #2 of being a superhero: Find reliable sidekicks

Dear Diary,

Once I took down Haverty, the Primo of the city, I thought life was going to get better. After four assassination attempts, I’m thinking not so much. Haverty's pack needs a new leader and I've just about run out of reasons why I'm not right for the job. Besides, having loyal followers would definitely help me fight off whoever's out for my blood. Especially since my boyfriend is always busy playing White Hat to every wanderer except me. It's nice that he thinks I'm tough enough to handle my own business, but a little extra back up would be nice.

So now I just need to figure out how to mentor new shifters, run a pack, keep my "real" job, and have some sort of personal life. I guess it's all in a day's work for this horror movie writer-turned-shapeshifting panther.

I can’t believe the bad guys aren’t really bad and in fact turn into heroes. Who does that kind of thing? Ms. Arista does in her latest tale that proves that sequels really can be as good as the original. In fact, except for the heroine, Violet, and the hero, Chaz and a few of Violet’s friends, everyone else is brand new or just about. Truthfully, Claws and Effect is even better because now I know who I’m dealing with – or so I thought.

One of the best things I can say about this newest story is that it’s not what I anticipated. Sure, the relationship between Violet and Chaz is still evolving and growing; I expected that. What I couldn’t predict was the direction the author had her characters go in. What I couldn’t foresee was the changing nature of the original bad guys and the roles they played in this current book. I should have hated them like Jessa, Violet’s best friend; certainly I had plenty of ammunition to do so. But Ms. Arista had her heroine discover her true strength within and her basic personality isn’t one of hate or anger or spite but forgiveness, humor and love. In the first book, I saw a woman in the who was afraid and initially unsure of her destiny and would have preferred to bury her nose in a screenplay and shut out the world. Towards the end, she rose up to meet and defeat evil and discovered some amazing things about herself. Claws and Effect took me along with Violet as she faced some more home truths about herself and the life she now has to live.

Here is where I’ll share that not only is this story told in first person point of view but that it’s wickedly effective. So much so that at first I thought I was seeing things and almost thought I caught a major scene / editing error. Because I was restricted to Violet’s POV, I didn’t find out what was really going on until she did. It took awhile but once I got to that part, I was floored and thoroughly amazed. My actual words were, “That is SO COOL!!” So, my advice is: wait for it. It’ll knock your socks off because after that point, the action speeds up and the Prima attitude really comes out to play. Of course, none of that would be effective if Ms. Arista didn’t have such tight control of her writing. Her choice of words, use of details and fast paced dialogue kept the energy high and my heart rate up.

Be amazed. Readers will be reading the polished version whereas this review is based on the ARC. As expected there were numerous typos and silly misses but the most astounding fact is that this story is so well told, intricately plotted with characters that grabbed my heartstrings and imagination, and was delivered with such passion and intensity that editing glitches were a nonissue. I unequivocally adored Claws and Effect and will be buying the finished version for my keeper shelf.

That being said, a word about the heroine, Violet - what a sweetheart! Okay, so that was three words. I really enjoyed her ability to garner loving and healthy friendships by being true to what makes her so special. Violet actually cared about those around her. She stepped out a limb more than once in this book and could have seriously gotten hurt, well more hurt that she was, but she did it anyway because that’s what heroes do. They just do what has to be done because it’s right, because someone needs to and it’s never done for the glory or gains for themselves. They have this need to help. That’s Violet. And it’s why I think she’s one of the better female heroines out there in bookland. She feels real to me.

For those that really swooned over Chaz in the first book like I did, be prepared to have your faith in him shaken. Things are not what they appear but for awhile, you couldn’t convince me of that. Again, some really great writing from Ms. Arista. I had no idea where the relationship between Chaz and Violet was going to end up especially when Myers came on the scene. Talk about complications and conflict.

I also liked the connection conflict and the use of italics to differentiate it from the active story. The question is, is it real? Something tells me that the next book in the series is going to be very creative and intense because I think “he” might come back. And won’t that just ruin Violet’s day.

I realize that I’ve made references to the previous book in the series and it might scare some readers into thinking that this tale might not be a good stand alone. I think it can. The author makes the characters explain to readers the key points they need to know to feel included. The only thing that won’t have depth of understanding is just how unusual Chaz and Violet’s relationship is. I am glad to say that their little worry is resolved and things can now progress to a more passionate expression of their love. As it is, this story is filled with love, romance and true commitment. I’m happy.

Claws and Effect is a jewel in the paranormal romance crown. It’s a story that sparkles and shines from the talent that is Ms. Arista. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop. I simply had to know what was going to happen to Violet and Chaz. Were they going to make it? Was Chaz going to commit to Violet? Was she even going to survive the choices she had to make in this story? So many questions kept getting answered chapter after chapter with new ones being asked and explored. I am enchanted by the world Ms. Arista has created and the characters she’s peopled it with. This book is a work of art and the series is a wonderful addition for paranormal romance fans who want an effective balance between the conflict of darkness and the light of love. This story has it all and I’m eager for more.