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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Predator's Refuge by Rosanna Leo


Lynx shifter Marci Lennox has worked at the shifter-friendly Ursa Fishing Lodge and Resort all her adult life. It’s more a home to her than a job. When her boss goes on vacation, putting her in charge, Marci is thrilled. Finally a chance to prove she has the mettle to run a resort.

Her confidence is shaken when new employee Anton Gaspar appears. One look at the mysterious tiger shifter spells trouble for Marci and for her sex-crazed lynx. Anton is judgmental, condescending, and a little misogynistic. Unfortunately, Marci’s lynx thinks his tiger is more delicious than an oversized bag of Maltesers.

It becomes difficult for Marci to remain neutral near Anton, especially when she learns of his troubling past and unusual family circumstances. However, when dangerous incidents occur on the resort, the lynx woman and tiger man join forces to combat the threat to the lodge and its guests. Harder still is the quest to combat their explosive feelings for one another. As they explore their mutual passion, they realize the danger at the resort is more insidious than they ever envisioned. Their dreams, their love, and their very lives are at stake.

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Rosanna Leo's books rarely disappoint, and such is very true of this third addition to her Gemini Island Shifters series. This time we get Marci's story, a woman that we've met in the previous books, though she had yet to come into her own then. In this one she's all grown up and finally starting to realize her potential. The choices she ends up making, however, are a bit surprising, not only to the reader but to Marci herself.



In the previous books we saw Marci as an awkward young shifter woman who was desperate for approval and desperate to prove herself capable not only of doing her job but of doing more besides. She had yet to truly find the self-confidence she needed to succeed. Much of that has changed by the beginning of this book, for while she still has plenty of insecurities, she's finally begun to truly find herself and is far more confident and self-assured than she has been in the previous books. She has started to assert her independence and to pursue her ambitions with even more determination than ever. It hasn't come without a price, however, and that price has been the over-repression of her Lynx, particularly as regards her sexuality and need to get down and dirty with someone. Thus, though she's on the verge of achieving the position she's been coveting for some time, that of Assistant Manager at the Ursa Lodge, she's also on the verge of a complete breakdown caused by her self-denial. Anton's appearance at the lodge quickly proves to be the one thing that tips the balance and threatens to send her whole life spiraling out of control.

Anton is the heir to a "throne" in Hungary, though it's a position he wants no part of, primarily because of his depraved family and their history of violent despotism. He has spent the last two years at a monastery hoping to find peace and to distance himself from his family, and it's worked to a certain degree. He accepts a mentor position at the Ursa Lodge to try to make a fresh start with his life, and to try to do some good in the world to hopefully counteract the evil his family has perpetrated for far too long. Little goes as planned for him, however, as his resolve is first challenged by the intense attraction he feels for Marci upon first meeting her, and later by his past catching up to him. It isn't long before he has several choices he must make, and while some are relatively easy, others aren't, and his choices in the end aren't really what you'd expect.

The story moved along fairly quickly in this one, though certainly not at the expense of characterization. Even with the characters that we already knew from previous books, Ms. Leo gave them further life and depth, showing us new facets to their personalities, as well as demonstrating some of the ways they too have changed in the last...however long it's been since we first met them (the timeline here is a tad vague, though it's entirely possible I just missed some of the references to how much time has elapsed over the series). Though there's certainly plenty going on plot-wise with events on the island and elsewhere, the focus remains on the characters and how they deal with their internal problems, interpersonal conflicts, and the events going on around them. This attention to detail when it comes to her characters' thoughts, mannerisms, actions, and words as she constructs their personalities for us is one of the things I most admire in Ms. Leo's writing.

Overall I thought this book a very fitting addition to the series as it definitely preserves the atmosphere and tone of the previous books. It helps to bring Gemini Island and the people who live and work there into more vibrant focus as we see yet again that even though they do a lot of good for the shifter community, it's still no utopia and the problems of the outside world are never very far away. It's easy to see how the series is maturing along with its characters in the way that we get to see more of the grit and imperfections of life on Gemini than we have before. We're also taken to some much darker places in this book, darker perhaps than I've seen in any of Ms. Leo's previous works (those I've read anyway...I am admittedly not fully up to date with all her works) and though I cherish her normal lighthearted, sassy style of writing I'm also pleased to see how she's continuing to mature as an author and take on darker topics and integrate them into her stories in a way that is still uniquely her style.

For all that I thoroughly enjoyed Marci and Anton and the rest of the cast here, it still wasn't fully a five star read for me. While I felt that the conflict resolution here seemed much more appropriate and satisfying than has been the case at times, still I felt that certain aspects got slightly simplified. There was no last minute twist to lift this from the realm of "this is really good" into "wow!" like there was with the previous book, and it wasn't all that difficult to figure out whodunit well before the final reveal and showdown. Still, the excellent characterization and storytelling deserves a solid 4½ stars and a definite recommendation.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a terrific review, Michelle! So glad you're enjoying the series. :)

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