Friday, March 11, 2022

Jennifer Ashley - Red Wolf

Lupine Shifter Dimitri has always had to defend himself to other Shifters. As a red wolf, he’s not considered a “pure” wolf, and the battles have honed him into a tough fighter, a champion of the fight clubs. Jaycee Bordeaux, a leopard Shifter, is Dimitri’s staunchest defender and oldest friend. Dimitri is determined to turn that friendship into a mate bond.
Jaycee loves that idea, but she knows that a mate bond can’t be forced. And when Dimitri and Jaycee are called on to go undercover to protect collared Shifters, she knows the dangers ahead will make or break their future together.

Comment: This is the 10th installment in the Shifters Unbound series by Jennifer Ashley. It's been two years since I've read the book before this one and I admit I didn't remember the exact situations which happened there. Thank fully, the world building is well established and one can follow most things easily....

In this new adventure, we have protagonists Jaycee and Dimitry going on an undercover mission to find proof someone is causing shifters harm and how. The two have been friends for a long time and the fact Dimitry is a rare red wolf and stutters made him a target while growing up but Jaycee has always had his back. They do seem to be close and just before this story begins he has mate-claimed her, meaning he has sort of started the process for their bonding which can only continue if she accepts. Adding to this, a new mission can certainly strain their relationship but for two close friends, this turns out to be the easy part. More dangerous is what they will have to do to complete their mission... 

The world building of this series is, as expected, still strong and well thought. There's plenty to think about, lots of room to improve and carry on the series but for me, sadly, there has been an ongoing issue which doesn't seem to have any resolution: a definite step into allowing shifters to have better tights within society and evidence they will be able to have better lives at the same time. Considering how this started, wit shifters being a special kind of being but having to submit to humans'laws, I kind of wish things had progressed more in this regard.

However, the emphasis is still on their origins and how they can fully break free of the Fae  - apparently the ones who magically "created" shifters. Not that this isn't a worthy subject but it goes on and on and I think it would had been a better option to take this in a different direction - I thought so after reading the first book - because by now things are rather repetitive in this area.

The plot of this story has its interest and the author has added a sentient/haunted house to the mix as something new, and while Dimitry and Jaycee's mission is necessary and based on a good reason, I sincerely feel it didn't add much to the overall series. What happened here didn't have to be the plot of a full length book and I felt we were just going on circles on the same ideas. Yes, it was nice to see come previous characters who recurrently show up when it's time to save the day or help friends but in terms of advancing the main plot, nothing happened.

The romance or characters' interactions often work enough to push my grade up because it's simply fun to see the evolution and the friendships of these people. Sadly again, not on this situation because the romance trope here is friends to lovers and what I usually dislike about them happened: Dimitry and Jaycee are good friends, a good team in a mission but as a couple there's noting special about them. Should they be couple? Why not, that's not the issue, I'm quite glad about their happiness together but thinking on them as friends or as a couple didn't change with their mating.

In other books, becoming a mated couple often needs to be considered for some reason but here it wasn't necessary, we already know they got along and their dynamics wouldn't be different if they mated, no matter the one or two times another character gave that indication. This means that for me the romance was practically non existent.

The secondary characters had more interest, especially the antagonists and their actions but since nothing advanced, not even this felt like it was substantial. As for the characters we came to like from previous books and all their domestic lives, they did play their role and I liked seeing them, having one or two more scenes with them or knowing things about them but.. could it be this series is already too long? I see there are yet three full length stories after this one...I suppose the good thing is they are still not long, so it doesn't take long to read them but.... decisions, decisions....
Grade: 5/10

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