Danger lurks in the shadows and desire shimmers in the sultry heat as leopard shifter Drake Donovan is sent to a Louisiana bayou to investigate a murder. He's ready for anything except the insatiable hunger that rocks him when he meets Saria Boudreaux, a woman with a compelling motive-and ability-to distract him from the task at hand...
--Savage Nature by Christine Feehan, Copyright ©2011 by Christine Feehan, published by Jove Books
However, it was the two-legged animal that worried her. Specifically, the dead ones she was finding in the swamp. She knew she should have told her older brother Remy about them—after all, he is a New Orleans homicide detective, but given the claw marks she found on the bodies, she was afraid he, or one of her other shape-shifter brothers, might be the guilty party.
Instead, she sends a message to Jake Bannaconni, the owner of the land, and tells him what’s going on. He sends one of his men, Drake Donovan, to check it out. Prior to his arrival, he “officially” hires Saria to be his guide through the swamps.
When Drake arrives, he’s immediately drawn to the feisty, independent woman. She brings out the beast in him, literally, and Saria begins to feel something within her that reacts to his beast. He’s a shape-shifter, just like her brothers, just like her, though she’s never known herself to be one. The leopard-people mate for life, Drake informs her, and Drake and Saria have just discovered each other to be their true mate.
It should be easy…Drake claims his mate and they live happily ever after. But the important things in life are never easy. With a series of murders and a drug-running operation to resolve, a leopard lair that’s spiraling out of control and in desperate need of strong leadership, and a mate that’s going into heat—drawing men to her like flies to honey—Drake’s life has suddenly become extremely complicated.
He wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s hard for me to put my finger on exactly what it is that I don’t like about this story. The beginning chapter gives background and history on Saria Boudreaux and it felt a bit like an “info dump,” where the author goes “here’s-important-information-you-need-to-know-to-set-up-the-location-and-background-of-the-main-character-okay?-now-we’ll-get-to-the-good-stuff.” The dialogue between Saria and her brothers in this section is very telling of her relationship with them, but I think the rest of it could have been dispersed better through the story.
There were a few gaps in the story. When we meet Drake, we learn pretty quickly that he’s had a recent injury and is for the most part healed, but he hasn’t been able to shift since his surgery. He never tells Saria (and us) how he was injured. Did this happen in a previous novel? If so, I don’t remember what it was and don’t want to re-read another book to find out. Saria’s brothers have all been away, pursuing careers, but now they’re all back—all at the same time—and no real explanation as to why. Charisse, Saria’s friend, always dresses elegantly but given the fact that she’s pretty isolated from the community and hardly ever goes anywhere, there’s no real reason for it. So why does she do it?
Also, I really didn’t like the scene where Saria is leading Drake and his men through the swamp—it’s a long, drawn-out narrative where the tension builds, and then abruptly ends with a summary of what they find at the end of their trek. The only purpose that scene seemed to serve was to have everyone out all night long so they’d return to the inn exhausted, setting them up for the next dastardly deed of the antagonist.
I enjoy Christine Feehan and this is a good story with a very intriguing mystery twisting away at its center. If you’ve read her books or enjoy shape-shifter stories, you’ll enjoy this one as well. Others might want to take a pass.
I give this story THREE and a HALF STARS.
I think I have a case of becoming too familiar with an author’s style and finding they have become predictable. I’ve noticed this with several of my long-time favorite authors. I used to scour web sites for news of when my favorite authors’ next books were about to be released and though I never went so far as to mark my calendar, I did keep a close eye on the dates. Now, while I’ll note that their new book has been released, I’m not so anxious to rush out and get it. Feehan’s Dark Peril came out last year and I bought it, but I have yet to read it and the next in the “Dark” series, Dark Predator, comes out in September. Will I buy it? Sure. Will I read it? Eventually. Same with Nora Roberts--The Search came out July 2010 and I’ve listened to about half the audio book and will try to listen to the rest sometime this summer. The story is a bit predictable, but she’s created two great characters and they are the reason I want to finish it, not the plot itself. Her latest, Chasing Fire came out in April and I have yet to read it (but I do have it on hold at the library and I’m second in line for it, so look for its review sometime soon).
Do you find the same thing happening to you with your favorite authors? I lost interest in Laurell K. Hamilton a long time ago, but a good friend of mine is waiting breathlessly for her next release. If Stephenie Meyers strung out the Twilight saga for 10 or 15 novels, would you still be reading her? What about Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series? John Connelly’s Charlie Parker novels? Will—gasp!—Lee Child’s Jack Reacher still interest me in his 20th book? (I dearly hope so!)