Series: SHADOW SHIFTERS
Plot Type: Soul Mate Romance (SMR)
Ratings: Violence—4; Sensuality—5; Humor—1
Publisher and Titles: St. Martin's
Temptation Rising (4/2012)
Seduction's Shift (9/2012)
Passion's Prey (3/2013)
Shifter's Claim (8/2014)(also published in four e-novella "episodes" )
Hunger's Mate (2/2015)
NOVEL 4: Shifter's Claim
When Priya does try to get into Rome's hotel room, she is stopped by Sebastian (Bas) Perry, Faction Leader (FL) for the Southwest, whose headquarters is in his Perryville Resort in Sedona. Bas runs a number of resorts worldwide, but his main duties are to maintain a Shadow army and keep the rogues in his territory under control.
The plot centers on Priya's continuing search for information and on attempts by a mysterious group of humans and rogues to smuggle high-tech weapons, drugs, and—oddly—bags of blood across the border from Mexico. The blood bags have been shipped from a U.S. government laboratory in Sedona—Comastaz Laboratories, a facility run by Dr. Mario DiLaurent and Captain Lawrence Crowe with the stated purpose of developing new and improved defensive weapons. If you can't figure out where the blood came from and why the lab wants it, you haven't read much paranormal fiction because this is a very familiar trope. The action includes several minor showdowns between Bas's warriors and various groups of rogues. Ultimately, it is obvious that there are two sets of related bad guys—the government "scientists" and the drug-dealing rogues, now led by Darel Charles since the death of Sabar in the previous book. Another possible villain is the sociopath Boden Estevez, the first rogue, who is allegedly dead, but may still be alive.
The romance story line follows Priya and Bas on the bumpy road to their companheiro—their mating. Bas had a tragic experience with a human lover fourteen years ago that ended with her death at the hands of a group of rogues, and since then he has sworn off all emotional and sexual entanglements with humans. Priya has been unlucky in her previous romantic relationships and views Bas as a spoiled, arrogant rich guy who needs to be taken down a peg or two. In a stereotypical family portrayal, Priya has grown up poor, with an abusive father, a drug-addicted brother, a sister on welfare, and a mother who is always on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I love the fact that Arthur places African Americans into prominent roles in the series, but couldn't Priya have come from a middle-class or blue-collar family instead of being a clichéd poster child for urban poverty?
The frequent sex scenes between Bas and Priya are graphically portrayed, so if you're looking for erotica, this book is for you. The downer for me was Priya's grossly detailed two-page scene early in the story (Chapter 3) that could have come from Vibrators for Dummies (if there was such a book)—much more than I really wanted to know about Priya's self-pleasuring techniques.
Just as in the previous novels, this one of full of plot holes, illogical behavior, errors in continuity, and strange word choices. I was mystified in one scene in which Priya is attacked by a rogue shifter on the grounds of the Perryville Resort. In this scene, Priya is basically surrounded by Shadow Shifter guards who are dispersed all around the area—shifters who supposedly have an excellent sense of smell. Yet not a single guard detects the scent of the rogue shifter as he enters the scene and mingles with the crowd. Note to the author: Either these shifters have a super sense of smell or they don't. You can't have it both ways just so that you can (awkwardly) manipulate the action to suit your purposes.
Arthur describes the air in Sedona as "sultry" and "thick," both of which connote extreme heat plus extreme humidity. The air on a summer day in below-sea-level, humid New Orleans would be sultry and thick, but not the dry, thin air in high-elevation (4,500 feet), low-humidity Sedona. In another example that jumped off the page for me, Priya looks at a guard who is taking her to Bas's apartment: "He wasn't her enemy, she thought drably…He was just doing his job and she was taking her sexual frustrations out on him." (p. 147) "Drably" isn't the right word here. That word means dull or lacking in spirit, and Priya is anything but spiritless. In this scene, Priya is upset with Bas and is feeling peevish, perverse, irritated, and sullen—but definitely not drab.
Brand-name dropping continues to intrude into the story line. Arthur never misses a chance to insert a specific, unnecessary reference to Bas's clothing and accessories: his TAG Heuer Monaco watch, True Religion jeans, Under Armour shirt, Ermenegildo Zegna tie, etc.
This series has not improved in quality since the first book, so I will not be reviewing any more of these novels, mostly because the characters are flat and stereotypical and the plots are stale and full of holes, If, unlike me, you enjoyed the first three books, you can look forward to more of the same. Click HERE to read an excerpt—you'll have to scroll down the page below the strip of cover images to find it.
The good guys are the Shadow Shifters, all of whom trace their ancestry back to the Brazilian rain forest. They live by a code of ethics called the Ètica and are ruled by the Assembly, a council of elders based back in the rain forest. Many of these shifters have migrated to the U.S., where they have formed an organization called the Stateside Shadow Shifters and divided themselves into tribes called factions, each led by a Faction Leader. As the series opens, the East Coast Faction Leader is Rome Reynolds, the Topètenia hero of book 1. The author provides a short glossary of terms at the beginning of each book.
The bad guys, who refuse to follow the Ètica and live only to sate their hungers for sex and death, are the rogues. They also migrated from the rain forest, but they do not belong to any of the Shadow Shifter factions. As the series begins, the rogues are led by Sabar Tabares, a power-mad, drug-dealing killer whose goal is to be the most powerful being in the U.S. First, though, he must insinuate his way into behind-the-scenes power roles by manipulating weak and greedy human government officials, and—more importantly—he must get rid of the Shadow Shifters.
This is a run-of-the-mill paranormal romance series with stereotypical, cardboard characters and a series plot arc that we've seen many times before. If you want to read a solid, well-written feline shifter series, you can't go wrong with one of these: Lora Leigh's terrific FELINE BREEDS, Christine Feehan's LEOPARD SERIES, or Juliana Stone's JAGUAR WARRIORS. Also, Nalini Singh includes a number of feline shifter love stories in her PSY-CHANGELING series. If you like your cat shifters a bit smaller, try Rachel Vincent's WERECATS/SHIFTERS series. You can click on any of the series titles above to go to my reviews.
NOVEL 2: Seduction's Shift