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Friday, July 20, 2012

Pride Mates by Jennifer Ashley

Pride Mates by Jennifer Ashley
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (282 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Collared and controlled, Shifters are outcast from humanity, forced to live in Shiftertowns. But waiting within are passions that no collar can contain...

Like most Shifters, Liam Morrissey has learned that trusting humans leads to no good. But when beautiful attorney Kim Fraser enters Shiftertown alone in order to prove her client's innocence, Liam's alpha nature leaves him no choice but to offer his protection.

Ever pick up a book just on a whim? That’s what happened with Pride Mates and that whim has turned into an obsession to find every single book in the series. I was ensnared by the way the hero, Liam Morrissey, viewed the heroine, Kim Fraser, in the first chapter and how quickly her life spiraled out of control. In her ignorance, she blithely went from the pan into the fire. My favorite thing is that she dragged the hero into the fire with her, making their relationship smoking hot. It was very fun reading.

Ms. Ashley created a new and vibrant world with Pride Mates and she did an amazing job of introducing all the new rules and regulations of this alternate United States in a very natural and smooth style. What struck me was the unfairness for the shifters. The author must have researched deep to get the details down to the degree they were. Reading about all the restrictions on shifters gave me a claustrophobic feeling and I didn’t like that. Neither did the shifters, which means the writing clearly got the point across to a reader. They were treated as less than second class citizens and faced prejudice at every turn. It was very sad, and it made me angry too.

I liked the mix of magic, the disinformation and misdirection that the shifters had to employ against humans, and their secrets. Secrets can be a good and bad thing and for the purpose of this story,

Ms. Ashley had some of her characters privy to some very bad ones. It’s those very nasty secrets that set the wheels in motion and pushed Kim into the fray.

I enjoyed Kim’s character. She is stubborn, determined, invested in seeing justice done and has ideals and beliefs that justice should and would prevail. She has the moxie to stick by those ideals making her someone to respect but by the same token, makes her a target by people who have no intention of justice seeing the light of day. That is one of the main plot conflicts in Pride Mates and it’s fascinating to watch unfold. It’s good that she’s well educated because everything she’s learned, everything she fought for to get where she was in life, was going to be tested in a most profound manner.

Kim’s fortitude is severely tested by hunky, Liam Morrissey. He’s the go-to guy for shifters and there’s a reason for that which is revealed towards the end of the book. The big reveal was quite exciting and a real page flipper. Before that can happen, however, the hero needs to do a lot of re-thinking about his life, his goals, what’s really going on and also had to face divisions of loyalty. It’s a lot to carry on one’s shoulders but the author created a very capable character that I enjoyed getting to know. One of the best parts was watching him get flustered over his attraction to Kim. He’s very torn because he’s shifter, she’s not, and he’s not sure what to do about it or even what he can do. The whole process of falling in love was quite entertaining. Liam resisted as best he could, as long as he could but eventually, as with all good alpha heroes, he succumbs to the inevitable. What man can resist a healthy dose of lust?

The evil plot came from an unexpected source and what it turns out to be will have lasting ramifications for future books in the series. In this installment, it ramps up the violence quotient so there is a lot of drama and intensity to the telling of the story. Suspense, fighting scenes and tension are well written so a reader is in for a gripping tale. During the down times, other well written scenes include the physical passion between Kim and Liam. I looked forward to those parts because they were emotional and full of feeling, not to mention, quite steamy and satisfying. There is a secondary romance percolating between Liam’s father and their neighbor. Not sure where that one is going but it provided an interesting family and community element to the novel.

As for other secondary characters, I liked Liam’s brother, Sean. Tall, stoic and handsome, the poor guy’s job is a buzzkill for romance. It’s going to take a special kind of woman to be able to bring a smile to Sean’s mouth and a twinkle in his eye and I can’t wait to read the next book because it’s about him.

Ms. Ashley’s talent in creating him and the tease at the end of this story insured an auto-buy for Sean’s story in Primal Bonds. I’m so excited!

Pride Mates is a sure pleaser and a must read for fans of paranormal romance. It’s sexy, hot, exciting and populated with wonderful, well drawn characters. The plot made it hard to put down and the saucy relationship between Liam and Kim made the book a joy to read. It has effective and gritty dialogue when a scene needs it, with sensual teases and genuine humor lightening up the flow allowing a reader to get to know what makes the hero and heroine tick. Ms. Ashley has world built an amazing and rich background for her characters to play in and readers are in for a treat when they pick up their own copy. If this is the quality that I can expect in the next book, then I’m going to be a happy camper for a long time because there is a ton of possibilities for this series, and I can’t wait.