Series: Leopard People
Author: Christine Feehan
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: April 28, 2009
This time, what goes on between male and female is wilder than animal instinct-and twice as hot.
Born into a world of twisted monsters, Jake Bannaconni is shaped and molded into a cold, revenge driven man. Honed in the fires of hell, he controls his world and rules with an iron hand. He has everything and anything money can buy. He’s ruthless, merciless and considered a man to leave alone. His hidden legacy, that of a shapeshifter, makes him doubly dangerous in the corporate world.
Emma Reynolds is a woman who knows how to love and love well. When their two worlds collide, Jake’s plans for a complete take over, may just come tumbling down.
Oh. My. God....This is the first thing that came to mind after I finished this book. Well, this and hot damn.
I started reading this one with a hefty dose of skepticism. The Leopard Series is the least favorite of mine, but I quickly had to rethink my position.
I must admit I didn't particularly like the hero, Jake Bannaconni, at the beginning, no matter the rather detailed explanation for his actions and behavior the author offered us in snippets cut from the boy's childhood. His parents were monsters, children of monsters, and were prepared to turn their son, whom they saw only as a failed breeding experiment, into a monster as well. If they didn't kill him in the process. Yet the little boy thwarted their nefarious plan, first by hiding the truth of his "other" and then by refusing to be like them, though he failed to see that fact almost until the very end.
Still, I didn't like him. And it wasn't because of his alpha-ness, I love Ms. Feehan's males, it wasn't even his domineering personality, it was the way he "weaseled" into Emma's life, or sucked her into his. I would've preferred a little more, I don't know if tact is the right word, but maybe cutting back on the Machiavelli-channeling wouldn't have hurt.
He quickly grew on me, though, once he, somewhat reluctantly, began to see reason, thanks to his friend and mentor Drake Donovon (oh, how I love that man!) and mostly because of Emma and their two "little monsters".
Emma. Sweet, tender, caring, loving, tenacious, stubborn, strong, resilient, little Emma. What could I possibly say about her without falling into clichés and diabetes-inducing superlatives.
She was just perfect for Jake.
She might have appeared weak and vulnerable at the beginning, broken down and empty, but once she got over her loss, she quickly let show her inner core of steel that prevented her from being completely taken over by Jake, and that single-minded determination of a woman in love on a very important mission. A mission of teaching her man the value and importance of love, loving and being loved. Showing him his true self, teaching him to embrace and accept all parts of his being, no matter how monstrous they might seem to him. Loving him no matter what he says or does to try to drive her away (because she knows deep down he doesn't mean any of it). Loving him no matter what.
And I must say she succeeded marvelously. Jake's progress and his change is obvious from the very first time he meets her to the end.
From the very beginning, Jake's been portrayed as detached, cold, feeling no emotions (except for rage and that incessant thirst for revenge). From the very first chapter and the glimpse at his first memory, his parents humiliated him, degraded him, dehumanized him, until there was nothing left.
Yet when Emma crashed, quite literally, into his life, it was immediately obvious just what kind of power she wielded, restoring his humanity, sparkling her joy and love into his bleak existence, until the brief glimpses of his humor, his smiles, his spontaneity (until he ruthlessly curbed it) were that much more special and precious, until they became a normal occurrence, finally signaling the inevitable. Jake was becoming human again, he was living for the first time and it was all thanks to Emma and his growing feelings for her.
The sex scened also nicely reflected this change, gradually changing from rough "kinky, hard-core sex" with no space for emotion, to a little less rough, but still extremely satisfying lovemaking. ;)
Although I usually don't like it when one plot-line overpowers the others, I didn't mind the romance subplot dominating in this book. It was so tightly tied into Jake's growth and maturing, his change, that it would've been a shame shoving it a little aside to make space for the rest.
Still, the suspense and imminent danger were there, skirting the edge, rearing their heads when appropriate to further the main story-thread and nudge the hero into more self-discovery.
And when the climax came it was explosive (I loved the depiction of the storm as a portent of impeding battle), snarling, clawing, roaring, deadly, and perversely satisfying.
This was once hell of a ride and an extremely satisfying read. It's up there with my favorites from this author and safely tucked onto my keeper shell. It was gritty, edgy, exciting, and though not exactly action packed, it presents another turn and improvement in Ms. Feehan's style.
Oh, my God? Hot damn? Yeah, definitely.