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Monday, July 4, 2011

Diaries of an Urban Panther by Amanda Arista

Diaries of an Urban Panther by Amanda Arista
Publisher: Avon / HarperCollins
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (281 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Violet Jordan Rule #1 of being a superhero: No tights.

Dear Diary,

By now you know I'm hardly a normal girl. Last night I woke up naked in an alley after fighting off some werewolves. All in a day's work, I guess. I thought I was dealing pretty well with the whole werepanther thing: the training, the apocalyptic prophecies. And the hot guy following me around, protecting me at every turn, is definitely a bonus. I'm even starting to become accustomed to the bloodshed and the violence—and that's what scares me. What will tomorrow bring…

Romantic paranormal suspense readers are in for a tasty treat. I was simply wowed by the great world building, fascinating and convoluted characters and a many leveled plot that had me wide-eyed with appreciation through most, if not all, of this book by a new-to-me author.

Ms. Arista has presented me with a new addiction and it’s all because she created an awesome heroine named Violet Jordan. One of the things that painted a vivid picture in my mind about the heroine was her self-references to Star Wars. I giggled and snickered but I got the point, and it played well into the dynamics of her character and her relationship with one of the important secondary characters, her best friend, Jenna. Violet is the focus of the tale and it’s told in her point of view. Everything I learned about the rules of engagement was gleaned when she figured things out, or when they were revealed on a need to know basis. Just like in real life, nothing is made easy or clean or without cost and that certainly applies to this story. The price is oftentimes high but with every scary or horrible thing that happens, I watched Violet grow stronger, her purpose solidify and her self esteem soar. Sure, it gets battered and smacked around a bit but that’s par for the course for a supernatural Xena on a mission. I enjoyed that whole process of her coming to terms that she even has a mission – she’s a scary movie writer for goodness sakes, not a heroine. But ultimately, that is what Violet is; a heroine with a heart.

The hero of the story is Charles Garrett, a/k/a Chaz. Oh, does he ever have a chip on his shoulder. He’s the classic mystery guy who comes to her rescue whether Violet wants him to or not. He’s not even sure why he’s involved until later on in the book. Even the good guys aren’t given all the facts, which of course compromises how effective they are at the job they’re sent to do. I am still not exactly sure about all the things that Chaz can do because I think the author only shared enough of what makes the hero tick to get him through this story alive and with Violet learning to trust him. There is so much more to this man that I am totally sucked into rooting for him and am enamored of his many talents. He’s a fighter, a cook, a domestic god and a heck of a kisser. He’s also lonely, with vengeance tormenting his heart. The best thing that ever happened to him was Violet, even when she drives him crazy and exasperates him no end.

There is plenty of humor sprinkled throughout this story as well as other secondary characters that give the tale flavor and substance. Each one plays a role in helping Violet learn about herself and glean important information that will affect her future. Some are good and some are bad and some secondary characters are icky nasty. Ms. Arista even threw me a curve ball with one of the bad guys. It was shocking and very well written. I never suspected a thing and when it was revealed, I was just has miffed as Violet was. Okay, perhaps not as strong as that. I mean, the heroine lived the tale so it personally made her fur stand on end whereas I could only commiserate with what she must have been feeling. The author did a wonderful job in getting me to care and connect with her characters, can you tell?

One thing of note, this story sounds like it is the first of many. It has a happily for now ending because Violet and Chaz really had to work up to their big moment of purrs and lovey dovey revelations. In the process of reading Diaries of an Urban Panther, a reader will see both characters fight the attraction because they both felt it had no future. By the time the story winds down, after exciting confrontations, double-crosses and fiendish claw action, the hero and heroine could finally take a breather and admit to what was in their hearts. However, it’s tempered with a few down to earth concerns that slowed the passionate pace their bodies were clamoring for. I liked how it ended, soft, with seductive promises of a future worth waiting, and perhaps fighting, for. What’s it going to take to give a full green light to their love? Maybe I’ll find out in the next book.

Diaries of an Urban Panther shows promise of being the next powerhouse series that readers will devour with avid devotion. The world building is incredible, with so many possibilities to explore and characters yet to reveal why they are really in Violet’s life. This book should resonate with readers of the Kitty Norville series because both of them have a strong leading lady who engages the imagination and keeps readers riveted by the romance blossoming and maturing in each book. I expect no less for Violet and I can’t wait. I am completely hooked on the potential fire between Chaz and Violet, and what role the heroine will end up playing in the shifter communities. The story is gripping, surprising, energetic and exciting. I was entertained and involved from the first moment the heroine saved the little boy and I couldn’t put the book down. I give Diaries of an Urban Panther high marks for being an awesome reading experience. Thank you for the new reading addiction, Ms. Arista!