Monday, May 25, 2020

Jennifer Ashley - Guardian's Mate

Chosen as the Guardian of her Montana Shiftertown, wolf Shifter Rae Lyall is facing opposition—for no woman has ever been selected for this powerful position. Still adjusting to the new authority thrust upon her, Rae travels to train with Zander Moncrieff, a Shifter healer, tasked with teaching her about her new role and its responsibilities.
A polar bear Shifter, Zander wears no Collar and follows no rules but his own. Rae finds him arrogant and demanding, yet compelling and intriguing. Zander has no wish to mate but the sassy Guardian is drawing him out of his shell, stirring feelings long suppressed. And when a new threat looms over Rae’s home, she and Zander must race to the rescue, forced closer to danger...and to each other.

Comment: This is the 9th installment in the Shifters Unbound series by Jennifer Ashley. Although not all the stories feel as balanced I still find enjoyment in reading about the adventures of these characters.

In this story the protagonists are Zander, a healer, and Rae, he first female Guardian. However, Rae is young and is not ready for this new task ahead of her. Her adoptive father takes her to Zander's boat because despite the fact he is not a Guardian, he has the skills to help her train her and he's quite distant so that that other shifters don't try to hurt Rae because of her new role.
The two find a way to work together even though both their animals want more than just an agreement between them. They start to work around a schedule but even in remote Alaska it seems someone else needs Zander's help and problems soon follow. 
Will Rae and Zander be able to fix their problems so they can be properly together at last?

I think this was a very solid installment in the series, as opposed to some, because I felt both the plot and the romance were captivating. Well, the plot more than the romance but nevertheless, the romance still felt good enough mostly because the two of them spent some time together and that made their connection a little more believable.

I suppose I need to say these stories are based on the premise that shifters are less worried about how their intimacy is seen by others and this means that, for me, stories where one of the elements is human is somewhat more interesting because there is always the personal boundary/self image issues that shifters don't tend to have. This is why I feel surprised I liked this one, both Rae and Zander are shifters but they are put in a new situation and they didn't immediately jump into intimacy so the story did feel a little bit sweeter than overwhelming passionate.

The plot is the best thing abut this book. The adventures the characters see themselves in were woven into the time line rather well and despite some scenes I think were there just to make it possible for other situations to happen in future books, I liked how they were developed and created the right atmosphere for things to make sense. For instance, when Rae feels her abilities can't measure to the task she is charged with, something happens and she and Zander team up to solve a problem. It could be much easier to just solve it and go on but that problem follows the rest of the plot without being forgotten so it felt that it mattered and helped to crate the sensation the two of them were also connecting more because of it.

These situations happen even despite the fact the main characters shouldn't have much in common but that's the interest in them being shifters, the fluidity of their behavior and expectations is very different from what would work for simply humans.
Still, I must confess part of me would like them to have a different take on their lives, I'd like them to think more about their "right now" and some of their lives feel a little too alien to really sympathize with while reading about the amount of adventures hey have.

At the same time, the fact they are unique and that there are plenty of characters to bring up a lot of interactions and relationships is quite alluring to me, as I really like the sense of community I get from long series with multiple protagonist characters and families.
Zander and Rae simply felt like a good add-on to this style and I liked knowing them better, Zander especially fr he had appeared in previous books and was described as crazy but, of course, we learn he is quite clever and reliable.

I had fun reading this book and I'm looking for to read more because even though this is not the best world/shifter universe created, it' still great to see known characters and get an idea where they are at. If only the overall plot could advance more quickly...
Grade: 7/10

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