It’s been hard to watch a wolf as charming and fun as Ellison not even have a chance at the girl, so I was thrilled to hear that Ashley was coming out with his story in an e-novella this year. There is no such thing as a bad book in this series – Ashley manages to wow the reader with outstanding writing and characters rich and complex, even in a story the length of the novella. I think the best compliment I can give her is that her novellas, like Lone Wolf, are so well-fleshed out in character and plot that they give me a similar experience to one of her full-length novels. It just goes quicker!
Ellison has never been fast enough on the draw in nabbing the girl, and as lead wolf in Austin’s Shiftertown he now knows why. The Goddess has clearly been saving him for the feisty human, Maria, now living with Guardian Sean Morrissey and his wife, Andrea. Maria has lived through hell in the form of being kidnapped and terrorized by feral shifters in Mexico. She and many others found themselves liberated by the members of the Las Vegas shifter clan, but the scars remain. After her traditional family rejected her as dirty after her experience, she decided to go to Austin and start a new life.
What she didn’t consider was that her unmated status is a problem in a town filled with unmated males. Under the protection of the Morrisseys, no one is going to try anything too drastic, but the attention of some of them can be uncomfortable. Interestingly the most deadly wolf of her acquaintance, Ellison, does not engender the same fear in Maria as the others. He’s made her smile from the first and is so clearly different from the shifters in her past she can’t help but be drawn to him even while intellectually rejecting the thought of tying herself to a wolf.
Ellison has been oh-so-patient with this lush beauty whose intellect and spirit set him alight as much as her curvy body, but the wolf in him chafes at the perceived threat from other males. When Shiftertown realizes there is a plot to steal cubs and sell them to wealthy humans who want illegal pets, Maria’s status as frequent cub babysitter puts her and the young in danger.
The romance between Ellison and Maria is absolutely perfect. Ellison is fierce, tender, and funny – the perfect match to help Maria reclaim her love of life after the heartbreak she’s been through. I adore how Ashley always weaves in previous characters in such a seamless way. Series lovers get a dose of their favorites continuing to live their lives but it never feels intrusive or like a cameo appearance.
An amazing strength of this series is not only that Jennifer Ashley writes fantastic romance, but her shifter world is crisp and brilliantly developed in a market inundated with good to mediocre offerings. Add to it that she has hit upon the key feature of any paranormal romance – parallels to modern issues of the reader’s society – and she has an unending supply of villains prepared to exploit the hate, fear and second class status of shifters. Compelling suspense and real threats follow in its wake.
While an idiot reviewer on Amazon felt this book was merely a set up for the next full-length book in the series, Tiger Magic, I wholeheartedly disagree and encourage them to remove their head from their butt. Tiger is an amazing character rescued from the lab in which he spent his entire life back in Mate Claimed. He is ferocious and wild with instincts in all the right places and I am starting a countdown until his book comes out on June 4th of this year! I thought his character was fantastic in Lone Wolf and I enjoyed the chance to see him in action and know him better prior to his own novel coming out. Yes, it made me want his book more but it did not make the novella a vehicle to set up Tiger’s story by a long shot. Sheesh.
I would encourage anyone interested in reading the series from first to last book to not skip ahead. Ashley’s overarching plots and characters run through the series and understanding them will add to your enjoyment. You will not be disappointed – ever – by this talented and prolific writer.