Pride Mates (Shifters Unbound Series #1)

( 515 )

Overview

Collared and controlled, Shifters are outcast from humanity, forced to live in Shiftertowns. But waiting within are passions that no collar can contain...

Like most Shifters, Liam Morrissey has learned that trusting humans leads to no good. But when beautiful attorney Kim Fraser enters Shiftertown alone in order to prove her client's innocence, Liam's alpha nature leaves him no choice but to offer his protection.

...
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Pride Mates (Shifters Unbound Series #1)

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Overview

Collared and controlled, Shifters are outcast from humanity, forced to live in Shiftertowns. But waiting within are passions that no collar can contain...

Like most Shifters, Liam Morrissey has learned that trusting humans leads to no good. But when beautiful attorney Kim Fraser enters Shiftertown alone in order to prove her client's innocence, Liam's alpha nature leaves him no choice but to offer his protection.

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  • Shifters Unbound Series
    Shifters Unbound Series  

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425245040
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/5/2011
  • Series: Shifters Unbound Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 106,299
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Ashley, USA Today bestselling author and winner of RWA's RITA award, writes as Allyson James and Jennifer Ashley. She lives in the southwest with her husband and cats and spends most of her time in the wonderful world of her stories. More about the series and Jennifer's books can be found on her website.

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Read an Excerpt

Pride Mates


By Jennifer Ashley

Dorchester Publishing

Copyright © 2010 Jennifer Ashley
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8439-6005-1


Chapter One

A girl walks into a bar ...

No. A human girl walks into a Shifter bar ...

The bar was empty, not yet open to customers. It looked normal-windowless walls painted black, rows of glass bottles, the smell of beer and stale air. But it wasn't normal, standing on the edge of Shiftertown as it did.

"You the lawyer?" a man washing glasses asked. He was human, not Shifter. No strange, slitted pupils, no Collar to control his aggression, no air of menace. Well, relatively no air of menace. This was a crappy part of town, and menace was its stock-in-trade.

Kim told herself she had nothing to be afraid of. They're tamed. Collared. They can't hurt you.

When she nodded, the man gestured with his cloth to a door at the end of the bar. "Knock him dead, sweetheart."

"I'll try to keep him alive." Kim pivoted and stalked away on her four-inch heels, feeling his gaze on her back all the way.

She knocked on the door marked "Private," and a man on the other side growled, "Come."

I just need to talk to him. Then I'm done, on my way home. A trickle of moisture rolled between Kim's shoulder blades as she made herself open the door and walk inside.

A man leaned back in a chair behind a messy desk, a sheaf of papers in his hands. His booted feet were propped on the desk, hislong legs a feast of blue jeans over muscle. He was a Shifter all right-thin black and silver Collar against his throat; hard, honed body; midnight black hair; definite air of menace. When Kim entered, he stood, setting the papers aside.

Damn. He rose to a height of well over six feet and gazed at Kim with eyes blue like the morning sky. His body wasn't only honed; it was hot-big chest, wide shoulders, tight abs, firm biceps against a form-fitting black T-shirt.

"Kim Fraser?"

"That's me."

With old-fashioned courtesy, he placed a chair in front of the desk and motioned her to it. Kim felt the heat of his hand near the small of her back as she seated herself, smelled the scent of soap and male musk. "You're Mr. Morrissey?"

The Shifter sat back down, returned his motorcycle boots to the top of the desk, and laced his hands behind his head. "Call me Liam."

The lilt in his voice was unmistakable. Kim put that with his black hair, impossibly blue eyes, and exotic name. "You're Irish."

He smiled a smile that could melt a woman at ten paces. "And who else would be running a pub?"

"But you don't own it."

Kim could have bitten out her tongue as soon as she said it. Of course he didn't own it. He was a Shifter.

His voice went frosty, the crinkles at the corners of his eyes smoothing out. "I'm afraid I can't help you much on the Brian Smith case. I don't know Brian well, and I don't know anything about what happened the night his girlfriend was murdered. It's a long time ago, now."

Disappointment bit her, but Kim had learned not to let discouragement stop her when she needed to get a job done. "Brian called you the 'go-to' guy. As in, when Shifters are in trouble, Liam Morrissey helps them out."

Liam shrugged, muscles moving the bar's logo on his T-shirt. "True. But Brian never came to me. He got into his troubles all by himself."

"I know that. I'm trying to get him out of trouble."

Liam's eyes narrowed, pupils flicking to slits as he retreated to the predator within him. Shifters liked to do that when assessing a situation, Brian had told her. Guess who was the prey?

Brian had done the predator-prey thing with Kim at first. He'd stopped when he began to trust her, but Kim didn't think she'd ever get used to it. Brian was her first Shifter client, the first Shifter, in fact, she'd ever seen outside a television news story. Twenty years Shifters had been acknowledged to exist, but Kim had never met one.

It was well known that they lived in their enclave on the east side of Austin, near the old airport, but she'd never gone over to check them out. Some human women did, strolling the streets just outside Shiftertown, hoping for glimpses-and more-of the Shifter men who were reputed to be strong, gorgeous, and well endowed. Kim had once heard two women in a restaurant murmuring about their encounter with a Shifter male the night before. The phrase "Oh, my God," had been used repeatedly. Kim was as curious about them as anyone else, but she'd never summoned the courage to go near Shiftertown herself.

Then suddenly she had been assigned the case of the Shifter accused of murdering his human girlfriend ten months ago. This was the first time in twenty years Shifters had caused trouble, the first time one had been put on trial. The public, outraged by the killing, wanted Shifters punished, pointed fingers at those who'd claimed the Shifters were tamed.

However, after Kim had met Brian, she'd determined that she wouldn't do a token defense. She believed in his innocence, and she wanted to win. There wasn't much case law on Shifters because there'd never been any trials, at least none on record. This was to be a well-publicized trial, Kim's opportunity to make a mark, to set precedent.

Liam's eyes stayed on her, pupils still slitted. "You're a brave one, aren't you? To defend a Shifter?"

"Brave, that's me." Kim crossed her legs, pretending to relax. They picked up on your nervousness, people said. They know when you're scared, and they use your fear. "I don't mind telling you, this case has been a pain in the ass from the get-go."

"Humans think anything involving Shifters is a pain in the ass."

Kim shook her head. "I mean, it's been a pain in the ass because of the way it's been handled. The cops nearly had Brian signing a confession before I could get to the interrogation. At least I put a stop to that, but I couldn't get bail for him, and I've been blocked by the prosecutors right and left every time I want to review the evidence. Talking to you is a long shot, but I'm getting desperate. So if you don't want to see a Shifter go down for this crime, Mr. Morrissey, a little cooperation would be appreciated."

The way he pinned her with his eyes, never blinking, made her want to fold in on herself. Or run. That was what prey did-ran. And then predators chased them, cornered them.

What did this man do when he cornered his prey? He wore the Collar; he could do nothing. Right?

Kim imagined herself against a wall, his hands on either side of her, his hard body hemming her in ... Heat curled down her spine.

Liam took his feet down and leaned forward, arms on the desk. "I haven't said I won't help you, lass." His gaze flicked to her blouse, whose buttons had slipped out of their top holes during her journey through Austin traffic and July heat. "Is Brian happy with you defending him? You like Shifters that much?"

Kim resisted reaching for the buttons. She could almost feel his fingers on them, undoing each one, and her heart beat faster.

"It's nothing to do with who I like. I was assigned to him, but I happen to think Brian's innocent. He shouldn't go down for something he didn't do." Kim liked her anger, because it covered up how edgy this man made her. "Besides, Brian's the only Shifter I've ever met, so I don't know whether I like them, do I?"

Liam smiled again. His eyes returned to normal, and now he looked like any other gorgeous, hard-bodied, blue-eyed Irishman. "You, love, are-"

"Feisty. Yeah, I've heard that one. Also spitfire, little go-getter, and a host of other condescending terms. But let me tell you, Mr. Morrissey, I'm a damn good lawyer. Brian's not guilty, and I'm going to save his ass."

"I was going to say unusual. For a human."

"Because I'm willing to believe he's innocent?"

"Because you came here, to the outskirts of Shiftertown, to see me. Alone."

The predator was back.

Why was it that when Brian looked at her like this, it didn't worry her? Brian was in jail, angry, accused of heinous crimes. A killer, according to the police. But Brian's stare didn't send shivers down her spine like Liam Morrissey's did.

"Any reason I shouldn't have come alone?" she asked, keeping her voice light. "I'm trying to prove that Shifters in general, and my client in particular, can't harm humans. I'd do a poor job of it if I was afraid to come and talk to his friends."

Liam wanted to laugh at the little-spitfire-but he kept his stare cool. She had no idea what she was walking into; Fergus, the clan leader, expected Liam to make sure it stayed that way.

Damn it all, Liam wasn't supposed to like her. He'd expected the usual human woman, sticks-up-their-asses, all of them, but there was something different about Kim Fraser. It wasn't just that she was small and compact, while Shifter women were tall and willowy. He liked the way her dark blue eyes regarded him without fear, liked the riot of black curls that beckoned his fingers. She'd had the sense to leave her hair alone, not force it into some unnatural shape.

On the other hand, she tried to hide her sweetly curvaceous body under a stiff gray business suit, although her body had other ideas. Her breasts wanted to burst out of the button-up blouse, and the stiletto heels only enhanced wickedly sexy legs.

No Shifter woman would dress as she did. Shifter women wore loose clothes they could quickly shed if they needed to change forms. Shorts and T-shirts were popular. So were gypsy skirts and sarongs in the summer.

Liam imagined this lady in a sarong. Her melon-firm breasts would fill out the top, and the skirt would bare her smooth thighs.

She'd be even prettier in a bikini, lolling around some rich man's pool, sipping a complicated drink. She was a lawyer-there was probably a boss in her firm who had already made her his. Or perhaps she was using said boss to climb the success ladder. Humans did that all the time. Either the bastard would break her heart, or she'd walk away happy with what she'd got out of it.

That's why we stay the hell away from humans. Brian Smith had taken up with a human woman, and look where he was now.

So why did this female raise Liam's protective instincts? Why did she make him want to move closer, inside the radius of her body heat? She wouldn't like that; humans tried to stay a few feet apart from each other unless they couldn't help it. Even lovers might do nothing more than hold hands in public.

Liam had no business thinking about passion and this woman in the same heartbeat. Fergus's instructions had been to listen to Kim, sway her, then send her home. Not that Liam was in the habit of blindly obeying Fergus.

"So why do you want to help him, love?" he asked. "You're only defending him because you drew the short straw, am I right?"

"I'm the junior in the firm, so it was handed to me, yes. But the prosecutor's office and the police have done a shitty job with this case. Rights violations all over the place, but the courts won't dismiss it, no matter how much I argue. Everyone wants a Shifter to go down, innocent or guilty."

"And why do you believe Brian didn't do it?"

"Why do you think?" Kim tapped her throat. "Because of these."

Liam resisted touching the strand of black and silver metal fused to his own neck, a small Celtic knot at the base of his throat. The Collars contained tiny programmed chips enhanced by powerful Fae magic to keep Shifters in check, though the humans didn't want to acknowledge the magic part. The Collar shot an electric charge into a Shifter when his violent tendencies rose to the surface. If the Shifter persisted, the next dose was one of debilitating pain. A Shifter couldn't attack anyone if he was rolling around on the ground, writhing in agony.

Liam wasn't sure entirely how the Collars worked; he only knew that each became bonded to its wearer's skin and adapted to their animal form when they shifted. All Shifters living in human communities were required to wear Collars, which were irremovable once put on. Refusing the Collar meant execution. If the Shifter tried to escape, he or she was hunted down and killed.

"You know Brian couldn't have committed a violent crime," Kim was saying. "His Collar would have stopped him."

"Let me guess. Your police claim the Collar malfunctioned?"

"Yep. When I suggest having it tested, I'm greeted with all kinds of reasons it can't be. The Collar can't be removed, and anyway it would be too dangerous to have Brian Collarless if he could be. Also too dangerous to provoke him to violence and see if the Collar stops him. Brian's been calm since he was brought in. Like he's given up." She looked glum. "I hate to see someone give up like that."

"You like the underdog?"

She grinned at him with red lips. "You could say that, Mr. Morrissey. Me and the underdog go back a long way."

Liam liked her mouth. He liked imagining it on his body, on certain parts of his anatomy in particular. He had no business thinking that, but the thoughts triggered a physical reaction below the belt.

Weird. He'd never even considered having sex with a human before. He didn't find human women attractive; Liam preferred to be in his big cat form for sex. He found sex that way much more satisfying. With Kim, he'd have to remain human.

His gaze strayed to her unbuttoned collar. Of course, it might not be so bad to be human with her ...

What the hell am I thinking? Fergus's instructions had been clear, and Liam agreeing to them had been the only way Fergus had allowed Kim to come to Shiftertown at all. Fergus wasn't keen on a human woman being in charge of Brian's case, not that they had any choice. Fergus had been pissed about Brian's arrest from the beginning and thought the Shifters should back off and stay out of it. Almost as though he believed Brian was guilty.

But Fergus lived down on the other side of San Antonio, and what he didn't know wouldn't hurt him. Liam would handle this his own way.

"So what do you expect from me, love?" he asked Kim. "Want to test my Collar?"

"No, I want to know more about Brian, about Shifters and the Shifter community. Who Brian's people are, how he grew up, what it's like to live in a Shifter enclave." She smiled again. "Finding six independent witnesses who swear he was nowhere near the victim at the time in question wouldn't hurt either."

"Oh, is that all? Bloody miracles is what you want, darling."

She wrapped a dark curl around her finger. "Brian said that you're the Shifter people talk to most. Shifters and humans alike."

It was true that Shifters came to Liam with their troubles. His father, Dylan Morrissey, was master of this Shiftertown, second in power in the whole clan.

Humans knew little about the careful hierarchy of the Shifter clans and prides-packs for Lupines-and still less about how informally but efficiently everything got done. Dylan was the Morrissey pride leader and the leader of this Shiftertown, and Fergus was the clan leader for the Felines of South Texas, but Shifters with a problem sought out Liam or his brother Sean for a chat. They'd meet in the bar or at the coffee shop around the corner. So, Liam, can you ask your father to look into it for me?

No one would petition Dylan or Fergus directly. That wasn't done. But chatting about things to Liam over coffee, that was fine and didn't draw attention to the fact that the person in question had troubles.

Everyone would know anyway, of course. Life in a Shiftertown reminded Liam very much of life in the Irish village he'd lived near until they'd come to Texas twenty years ago. Everyone knew everything about everyone, and news traveled, lightning-swift, from one side of the village to the other.

"Brian never came to me," he said. "I never knew anything about this human girl until suddenly the police swoop in here and arrest him. His mother struggled out of bed to watch her son be dragged away. She didn't even know why for days."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Pride Mates by Jennifer Ashley Copyright © 2010 by Jennifer Ashley. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 515 )
Rating Distribution

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(297)

4 Star

(141)

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(56)

2 Star

(13)

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(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 518 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The key to the first Shifters Unbound romantic urban fantasy is the belief that the world of Jennifer Ashley exists

    In Shifterstown in the Austin area, human attorney Kim Fraser is defending shifter Brian Smith from the charge of murdering his human girlfriend. Brian is the first shifter she ever met though their existence has been known for two decades. Like mots humans, she assumed shifters were beasts who needed collars to keep them from going berserk. In spite of her fears of shifters being violent bogey-beasts, she believes her client is innocent; so she comes to Shifterstown to obtain the help of the go to shifters the Morrisey brood; father Dylan and brothers Liam and Sean.

    Liam informs Kim that Brian never came to him so why should he help him. Kim explains she got the short straw as the junior lawyer, but believes Brian is innocent because the collar prevents violent crime. She also says the prosecution, cops, and judge have not played fair and her client has given up, but she has not. Although he has doubts about getting involved because of his attraction to the brave lawyer who came alone, Liam is forced to intervene when a shifter without a collar threatens Kim's life.

    The key to the first Shifters Unbound romantic urban fantasy is the belief that the world of Jennifer Ashley exists; especially the racism with parallels to America as humans even those who never met a shifter believe they are deadly animals needing control. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the feisty lawyer challenges the powerful shifter and never slows down as love and the law clash in what is a terrific tale of people's rights and dignities.

    Harriet Klausner

    16 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great New Series!

    Jennifer Ashley introduces us to a new and unique view of Shapeshifters in Pride Mates , the first book in her Shifters Unbound series.

    This bool takes us to Austin TX where Kim Fraser is a DA assigned to defend her client, a shifter, in a murder case. Shifters had made their presence known to the world and 20 years ago they were given collars to control their animal instincts and keep them in line. The collars, made by a 1/2 Fae and half human, were to keep the humans safe. Knowing this Kim is determined to fight for her client's freedom. So sure of her client's innocence she is willing to face the unfamiliar Shifter world to prove it.

    Liam Morrissey was the man that Kim was told to go see if she had any way of proving her client's innocence. He was the "go-to" guy according to her client. Liam was an Irish Feline-Shifter and managed a Shifter bar on the edge of Shiftertown. Shiftertown were where the Shifters lived.

    When both Liam and Kim started being stalked by a feral Shifter, Liam trusted only himself to provide her protection. The only problem was whether or not she would allow him to.

    The main reason that I liked this book so much might sound weird to some. I liked it because as Kim and Liam's relationship blossoms, racism was addressed. Now you may say that that's an odd take on a PNR but you have to see it my way. As a bi-racial woman I am not unfamiliar with discrimination and it's a hot topic with me. The way that the Shifters were treated by the government is not unlike our own governmental history. Today, even in our supposed "enlightened age" prejudice and discrimination against people who are different still happens. Case in point? The treatment of Japanese-American citizens in WWII, the encampment of Native Americans in reservations, the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the treatment of homosexuals are all prime examples.

    Another reason That I liked this book is very simple. This book is yet another example of Ashley's excellent and spectacular writing.

    15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2012

    I liked it....BUT

    I just finished reading Pride Mates. The book is about a subject that has been written about many times. Jennifer Ashley does a very nice job of adding her twist to the shifter subject. I really liked the topic of the book.....but the story itself fell short. The main characters meet, mate, and bond in as little as a few days. Ok I am a true romantic at heart but this really annoyed me. The importance of a bonded mate was also down played. This actually made me sort of sad. I felt the story was rushed. The plot was great but the trip from start to finish left me feeling deflated.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    great

    I thought this book was great, it was hard to put down. I was able to finish it in only 5 days. It keeps you in suspense.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2010

    Jennifer Ashley does a great job with PRIDE MATES

    Jennifer Ashley is good. I can imagine that writing a book with a plot as Pride Mates consists of could not be easy. She captured your mind with the possibilities of how life for a Shifter could be. Being cast out or kept separate from what is considered "normal society or normal genes" was done quite well. The characters were very real; the history of how shifters came into existence was thorough and kept your attention. Liam and Kim were suitable "mates" for each other. The passion and love was sometimes raw; the lovemaking so explosive it was over too quickly with after the fact detail. Liam protected Kim, desired her above all others, protected his family.
    This is my second read by Jennifer Ashley. The first one I read by her was The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. I recommend this one highly also.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2012

    My favorite of the shifters unbound series

    This one is my favorite of the series I have read three and I like them all but this one is the one that got me all into the series.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Loved this series. Wish there were more books to it.

    Loved this series. Wish there were more books to it.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2013

    I liked it.

    I'm a fan of Christine Feehan and my Barnes and Noble account suggested this author as being similar in storytelling. While in my opinion it is not as good as Ms. Feehan's writings, it is very clever and does open up a whole new world for us paranormal romance readers. Ms. Ashley can tell a good story and she does develop the characters enough so that we care what happens to them and to their community. It's a great diversion for those of us who are waiting for the next book by Feehan or Sherrilyn Kenyon.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2012

    Loved it

    Awesome!!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2012

    !!!!!

    Read it in less than a day. Couldnt put it down.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2012

    Missed me.......

    Sorry, couldn't get into this one. Too much like Lora Leigh but not quite so much strength.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2012

    Great

    Love it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2012

    Awesome

    Worth the buy from start to finish........

    SA3542

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 30, 2012

    fantastic start to a new shifter series. Shifters have been don

    fantastic start to a new shifter series. Shifters have been done almost to death, but this world is a little different and I liked that. The mythology behind the creation of the shifters is innovative and new. I loved Liam for his dedication to his peoples' welfare. He had a lot of responsibility. I'm really looking forward to reading all the books in this series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2012

    Awesomeness in a book

    Completely loved the story and Kim is my new favoriate female!!! Don't quit talkin girl!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2012

    Good Read

    Enjoyed the story, writing was good, characters I wanted to read more about so have read all of the series. I would recommend to anyone who enjoys this jenre.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2012

    A DEFINITE MUST READ!

    THIS SERIES IS AWESOME! I LOVE READING ABOUT THE SUPERNATURAL & PRETARNATURAL. IT GETS ME AWAY FROM REALITY!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2012

    Awesome Series~

    Couldn't ask for a better shapeshifter series.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Glad I Found This One!

    This was great; I have shared with my friends and we are hooked on the characters but was very disappointed to find from her website the next book won't be until 2011.

    The Main and Supporting Characters are very likeable and intertwine wonderfully. The World she created was unusual and very well thought out. The action was continuous with the characters personalities shining through.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great addition to any romance library!!

    This is the first book I've read by Jennifer Ashley, and I definitely will be reading more! The plot was excellent. With so many shifter books out there, sometimes you get the feeling of "hmm I've read this before" but not with this book! It's definitely a unique take on the shape-shifter concept, with great characters that make the story come alive. This title is going into my permanent library and I will for sure be re-reading it again at some point.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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