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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Nine Lives of an Urban Panther by Amanda Arista

Nine Lives of an Urban Panther by Amanda Arista
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (252 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Violet Jordan thought the fairy tales her mother wove were just a way to get Violet to sleep, not a way to prepare her for the apocalypse she is the key to preventing. When she becomes a midnight snack for werepanther Spencer Haverty, his infectious bite invokes the first element of her destiny. When Violet’s budding instincts allow her to save a boy’s life, she realizes this new gig may come with perks: a slimmer figure, the attention of a handsome Guardian, and insights into her future embedded in her mother’s stories. But as push comes to claws, can Violet make the fatal strike against the men threatening her new family, her new home and her first boyfriend in ages?

Violet’s back in a whole new adventure that is as thrilling a ride as the previous two books in the series. There is something for everyone; thrills, chills, chases, ghouls and giant beasties, not to mention more of Vi’s and Chaz’s turbulent romance as it weathers more bumps and bruises, bites and scratches, not all of them the bad kind.

Once again Ms. Arista takes us on a first person journey with the heroine, Violet, as she battles and juggles her new responsibilities as Prima of Dallas, her growing love for Chaz and her bittersweet, and eventually shocking, reunion with her cousin. My favorite parts about the heroine are when she cracks puns that make a reader giggle and snort. Even when things are dire, Violet manages to throw in a clever quip or observation that breaks up the tension just a bit. And there is a lot of tension and suspense sprinkled throughout this tale that made it very hard to stop reading, even when I should have. Every chapter revealed something of interest whether it was a reason to gasp, tear up, sigh in wonder or stare at the words in wide-eyed wonder. I did that ‘great googly moogly!’ thing quite a few times because the author managed to surprise me when I least expected it. I couldn’t have dreamed up the scenarios and peccadillos that she managed to throw Violet into. That bad guy kept her on her toes.

Spencer is the re-occurring bad seed. Just when I thought he was restricted by where he was, I found out something important. You are what you eat. Ms. Arista took that saying to new and depraved heights that only a villain could love. Spencer was a very convincing villain and when the actual showdown finally happened, it didn’t go according to anyone’s plan. Well, maybe the person who smelled like honeysuckle sort of had a clue. That scene had me thinking so hard, my brain hurt. The Jordan genetic line is much more than anyone realized and I had a wild time learning all about it. Well, as much as the author let us know during this story. It definitely had me wanting to learn more about Violet and her family.

Chaz is still sticking to Violet like a burr on a sock. I’m so happy to see that. In fact, the hero has to make some very life changing choices in this story and the process was painful. What makes his character so interesting and mysterious is the fact that I never get into his head. This truly is a first person point of view novel and I only learn about him as Violet does. So, when he does things like, disappear, or come back exhausted from who knows where from doing who knows what, it’s as frustrating for me as it is for Violet. And yet, she trusts him, loves him and makes mistakes with him – he’s a great asset to her character and the series. In fact, by the end of Nine Lives of an Urban Panther, Chaz has a whole new level of learning to do and ties into my previous comment about Ms. Arista’s ability to surprise a reader. Color me gleefully astounded.

The gang’s all here as far as Violet’s new pack is concerned. But there are some new ‘kids’ on the block that pose some interesting contributions to this book as well as possible future plots and conflicts. They certainly made an impact and I’m confident I’ll be seeing more of yummy Valiance and fascinating Willowbourne as well as the very interesting Wayne and Lexie. I enjoyed the camaraderie and feeling of family that the author is building. Future books will be less a couple of people after this go-round. I was saddened but I understood. The author’s descriptions of one of the characters lead me to believe that it was coming, but at no time did I expect it to happen as it did. It was all the more effective and was where I sniffled and grabbed a tissue. It was powerful writing.

Nine Lives of an Urban Panther is stunning in its scope, brilliant in delivery, grabs a reader’s emotions with heartfelt writing and doesn’t let go. I enjoyed how the author built up the suspense, orchestrating her characters to best effect, and, even though the hero and heroine fought darkness and evil, Ms. Arista still found time to make her characters laugh, joke and be like real people. This series is turning out to be like a necklace studded with jewels – each book is unique, special and has so many facets to explore, it’s not a wonder this one is going on my keeper shelf. I can’t wait to find out how long the earthquake derailed a certain something. I certainly hope it’s not for long, because I really want Jessa’s hard work and enthusiasm to find fruition. This is one cliffhanger I'm delighted to wait for. The next book in the series can’t come fast enough for me.