Favorite Quote: “When you live thousand of years, people who annoy you tend to die off.”
Reviewed by Tori
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. (Goodreads)
Red Wolf is the tenth book in Jennifer Ashley’s Shifter’s Unbound series. This paranormal romance series continues to deliver with strong characters, cutting humor, intricate plots lines, sexy romances, and engaging narrative. Ashley’s clear and concise voice allows for easy comprehension even as the world continues to evolve and grow. These can be read as standalones though I don’t recommend. You’ll lose out on character and world comprehension along with the arc development by not starting from the beginning of the series-Pride Mates. Various plotlines further add to the developing arc as Ashley begins to set the stage for the end.
Fans will remember Dimitri and Jaycee from White Tiger. Trackers and friends with Kendrick; an alpha white tiger and a Guardian. Jaycee crushed on Kendrick until she realized it was an attraction built out of respect and safety, not true love. Towards the end of White Tiger, Dimitri and Jaycee celebrate the rescue of their alpha and his mate claiming with some nookie of their own. :) Dimitri decides to embrace the mate bond though Jaycee doesn’t. She’s not sure she’s ready to mate with anyone, much less her best friend. When Dimitri is drugged at an underground fight club, Dylan and Kendrick approach and ask them to investigate rumors of shifters allying themselves with the fae. Dimitri and Jaycee head to New Orleans and work to integrate themselves into a secretive shifter cult while trying to survive a sentient antebellum home (Wild Things) who likes them. A lot.
Red Wolf picks up a plot thread that began in White Tiger and narrows its focus while strengthening it into the new main story arc. A steady pace pushes the story right along with Ashley splitting her attention between the romance and the conflict. It does start out slow, the emphasis heavy on the romance with bits and pieces of the conflict coming into play. It’s not until the halfway point do we see any real action and the conflict gains the upper hand. We finally learn what Dylan Morrissey’s been up to and how it plays into the next shifter/fae war that is coming. This entire series is built on shifters and the prejudices and bigotry they face from the humans since winning their freedom from their makers; the fae. However, the fae want their battle beasts back and our Using the shifters themselves, the fae are secretly luring them back to Tuil Narath through any means necessary.
While I liked the main conflict and the direction Ashley is taking, I did find the romance lacking. Dimitri and Jaycee just didn’t capture my interest. I found their characterization weak and predictable. Their evolution from friends to lovers is off scene so we don’t get to see the romance develop and that contributed heavily to my apathy towards them. While their chemistry was hot and I liked how easily they worked together not only as lovers but as friends, I found Jaycee’s excuses for not accepting the mate bond weak. It felt like a plot device to amp up the anticipation and sexual tension.
Ashley uses Dimitri and Jaycee’s adventure to introduce new allies and enemies; divulging deeper into the background of the fae and adding another layer to its already convoluted world. Lady Ashling looks to be quite the game changer and I can’t wait to see where Ashley chooses to use her…and in what fashion. I am still #teamBen and I think he deserves a mate or at least a friends with bennies. :) Angus Murray is quite the dark horse and luckily, his story is next.
The ending resolves the main conflict in a climactic fashion while leaving readers with plenty of questions and more than ready for book eleven, Midnight Wolf, tentative release date October 2018. Though this wasn’t my favorite of the series, it was still an engaging read and perfect for paranormal romance fans who enjoy earthy heroes and heroines who love, laugh, and fight with joyful abandonment.