Plot Type: Soul Mate Romance (SMR)
Leopard's Fury (novel 8—Jove, 11/2016)
NOVEL 8: Leopard's Fury
Passion melts the will of an ice-cold criminal when he meets the one woman who can tame the beast inside him.
With her own bakery in San Antonio, Evangeline Tregre made a new life far from the brutal lair of shifters she was born into. Though she is all too aware of her leopard-shifter blood, she never felt the sensation of a wild animal stirring inside her. Not until Alonzo Massi walked into her bakery. The powerful shifter is as irresistible as he is terrifying, but his icy demeanor tells her to keep her distance.
Alonzo knows better than to let himself get involved with someone like Evangeline. She doesn’t deserve the type of danger that follows him, or the threat of his Amur leopard. But even with his lean muscle and iron will, Alonzo isn’t strong enough to stay away from the one woman who can make him feel at peace. And when their secret lives draw a mortal threat, Alonzo unleashes the feral passion he keeps pent up inside himself.
This time, our virgin heroine is Evangeline Bouvier-Tregre, a 20-something leopard shifter who grew up rough in the Louisiana bayous, but escaped to begin a new life as the owner of a bakery in San Antonio, Texas. Evangeline is different from Feehan's usual leopard heroines in that she knows that she is a shifter, and she has had a communicative relationship with Bebe, her inner beast, since she was a toddler. Evangeline and Bebe have actually gone through Han Vol Dan (sexual awakening) twice—but without consummation because Bebe decided Evangeline was either too young or that the right man hadn't yet appeared on the scene. When Alonzo Massi (aka Fyodor Amurov) strolls into Evangeline's bakery, both Evangeline and Bebe recognize that he is "the one," although Bebe accepts the inevitability of the soul-mate bond much sooner than Evangeline does.
We met Alonzo earlier in the series as Siena Arnotto's bodyguard, not the violent one, but the nicer one. Currently, Alonzo is the area's newest crime boss, having taken over the Arnotto territory. Of course, he isn't really a bad guy because he is involved with the heroes of the other novels in an alliance that is working to clean up the underworld by putting a halt to human trafficking, gun running, and other dark businesses that put innocents in harm's way. Unfortunately, Alonzo is just as much of an arrogant, high-handed über-alpha as the rest of the series heroes, snapping out orders and getting his way 100% of the time.
Both Evangeline and Alonzo have survived horrific childhoods, his in a Russian lair where he was forced to kill or be killed, and hers in the Louisiana swamps where her parents abandoned her. Evangeline has always been on her own, so she doesn't buckle under to Alonzo's bullying as easily as other heroines in this series. For his part, Alonzo has rescued his brother and several of his cousins from the Russian lair, but all of them are at risk of losing their lives if their Russian relatives ever find them (which, I'm quite sure, will make up the plot of a future novel). Naturally, there are many, many angst-filled interior monologues as both Evangeline and Alonzo reminisce about their terrible childhoods and the insurmountable difficulties they will face if they follow through on their hormonal urges. He doesn't want to drag her into his dark life, but he needs her because she is the only one who can keep his inner beast calm. She is sexually attracted to him, but she wants a "normal" life and fears that his criminal activities will doom her to becoming a prisoner—always under guard and looking over her shoulder for enemy attacks.
The action part of the plot involves some real mob bosses (not part of the alliance) who want Evangeline just as much as Alonzo does. The resolutions of the various conflicts sputter along with several anticlimaxes, each of which I thought would be the final one. But no, there was always another bad guy out to get Evangeline, but—predictably—always failing in his attempts. Although there are a few minor attack scenes scattered throughout the book, the primary showdown takes place very quickly at the very end. Basically, this is an erotic novel with a handful of plot action.
In each book, the story centers on the rise of the mating heat in the heroine, which tends to drive all males in the vicinity absolutely crazy. Each female heroine mates with the hero and then the two go on to solve the mystery posed in each plot. The male dominance and female submission can be a bit off-putting, but if you can get past that, the stories are told in Feehan's usual spell-binding manner.
Click HERE to go to Feehan's "Leopard Series Research Page" on her web site. The books in this series have been published in a variety of media, including hard cover, paperback, audio, and e-book.
SUMMARIES OF NOVELLA .5 & NOVELS 1 - 4
In Wild Rain, Rachel Lospostos, a naturalist, hides from a mysterious and dangerous assassin in the rain forests of Borneo, where she meets up with Rio Santana, one of the leopard people. The couple realizes that they are meant for one another, but Rio has dark secrets and Rachel is approaching an awakening that she doesn't really understand. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Wild Rain.
NOVEL 5: Leopard's Prey
Like book 3, this book is set in Cajun Louisiana, and the hero is the oldest brother of Saria, heroine of book 3. Saria has found yet another body in the bayous, a body that has the trademarks of a serial killer who has waited four years to kill again. These are grisly crime scenes, with the victim strung up on a tree branch, tortured, and finally eviscerated. The killer then removes a few bones from the body, including the left hand, and creates a primitive altar with black candles and a bowl of blood. Remy Boudreaux has been investigating these murders ever since they began, and he is disheartened to realize that he can anticipate three more deaths because the killer always butchers four men, takes a slightly different set of bones from each, and then moves on.
What Remy doesn't anticipate is that Saria wasn't alone when she found the body. Accompanying her was the beautiful jazz singer, Bijou Breaux, who grew up just down the road from the the Boudreaux family. Bijou is sixteen years younger than Remy, but the two have always had a connection. Back when Bijou was only eight, Remy rescued her from some drug dealers who planned to rape and kill her, and he has been her hero ever since. Bijou's father was a dissolute rock star whose off-stage life of drugs and sex turned his daughter into a loner who distrusts everyone. She has been stalked all her life, first by deranged fans of her father, and later by some of her own fans, and she has come back to the New Orleans area to try to live a more normal life.
The romance plot follows the usual path: Bijou is on the verge of her sexual awakening, which means that she will be shifting into leopard form for the first time. Of course, she has no idea that she is a shape shifter, so this is all a big shock for her. Remy realizes almost immediately that she is a leopard, and that she is his true mate. The romance story line follows the development of their relationship with all of the usual bumps and jolts and passion. Once again, Feehan gives us an animalistic, dominant male and a virginal, submissive female, so the "love" scenes are rough and raw.
The action plot is problematic because Feehan has thrown in so many crimes, villains, and possible suspects that the book has multiple climaxes. By the time we get to the take-down scene for the final villain, the connections between crimes and criminals are so perplexingly convoluted that they frequently don't make much sense. If you just read at a bare surface level, the story is enjoyable enough. But if, like me, you attempt to untangle the plot labyrinth and try to assign means and motives to each villain, things get murky very quickly. This novel is a textbook example of over-plotting.
Just one more small problem: In a couple of places, one character reacts to another character's words before that character says them. Here is just one example: On p. 10, Remy thinks to himself, "He could arrest Bodrie, but he'd lose his job, just as Bijou said." But Bijou hasn't said that yet. She doesn't say it until the middle of the next page: "Don't do it. If you arrest him, hell be out in an hour and you'll lose your badge." (p. 11) Someone at Jove should have caught these continuity errors before publication. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Leopard's Prey.
NOVEL 6: Cat's Lair
Although Eli is one of the good guys, his hyper-alpha, overbearing behavior is so over-the-top that he frequently comes across as a violent stalker rather than as a lover. Sometimes I pictured him in a wife beater shirt posing for a domestic abuse mug shot. He says things like this: "I told you, I like my way. My rules, my way. That's just how it is….It's that simple." In another scene, Cat has the audacity to lock the bathroom door when she goes in to take a shower, which infuriates Eli so much that he breaks down the door and screams at her: "Don't f***ing lock that door again, you hear me?…Not now, not ever. I don't give a damn how angry or upset you are, you don't lock me out of any room you're in." Then, when she tells him that he is hurting her feelings and asks him why he is so angry with her, he gets all needy and claims that he just wants her to initiate the sex for a change. This guy is a real piece of work—definitely in need of anger management therapy.
Passions explode like wildfire when a young woman’s feral instincts are ignited by a man who’s too dangerous not to desire…
A simple request for Siena Arnotto: deliver a gift to her grandfather’s friend. One look at Elijah Lospostos, hard-bodied and stripped to the waist, and Siena succumbs to a feline stirring she never felt before, and to Elijah’s reckless and pleasurable demands. But when that pulse-throbbing moment ends in the murder of an unexpected intruder, Elijah accuses the shaken and confused Siena of setting him up.
Then Siena discovers the truth of her Leopard heritage, of the secrets in her grandfather’s inner circle, and the sinister plot of revenge that has put her in jeopardy. When Siena’s grandfather is assassinated, she realizes the only man she can trust is Elijah. Now as her Leopard rises from within, Siena and Elijah share not only an animal instinct for survival—but a desire so raw and wild it may be the only thing that can save them.
By the end of the second chapter, our virgin heroine, Siena, has been essentially raped by Elijah (the hero), who then calls her a sexual amateur and a whore and throws her—naked—out of his house. Then, when she manages to get herself home, Paolo, her grandfather’s bodyguard calls her a slut and gives her a terrible beating. When Siena goes to her grandfather for help, he tells her to get over it, “You must forgive Paolo…You will need a man. Paolo wants to be that man and I want that for you.” Yes, it’s yet another of Feehan’s anguished “love” stories in which a virginal, naïve, uninformed female leopard shifter is completely dominated by all of the men she encounters—frequently in violent, degrading ways.