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.
I was really afraid it wouldn’t live up to my memories. But no, this is really almost as good as I remembered, and it is nothing like the most current Leopard series.
I mean there are some surface similarities. The heroes are super dominant and not always likable and the heroines are somewhat dependent. But deeper, there is a wide chasm of difference.
Jake may be aggressive, dominant, and emotionally closed off, but we as readers know PRECISELY why. He is more of a “real” character than later ones. We learn him through his history, and even his wrongheaded actions match up well with his history, his perspective in life, and his emotions. Plus, he at least often tries to moderate the worst of his impulses and he acknowledges his internal damage and sets up an escape hatch for Emma clearly explaining, should I ever hurt you, you go to these people for help leaving me and you never-ever return to me. And after the initial “let me make you dependent on me” stratagems, he was rather upfront with Emma.
And Emma feels reasonably real too. She has a spine, albeit a cat’s hyper-flexible one, but she does have agency, and she will stand up to him, and there is much more to their relationship besides sex. She makes decisions, she sets things in motion, and she does some of the actual fighting and tracking.
While the sex is still kind of dark and the relationship between Jake and Emma isn’t exactly a healthy one, it is miles away from what happens in later books.
I sincerely don’t know what has happened to this series. The later books seem to have lost characters, plot, history/culture/mythology, and the sex got weird. Where is the emotional connection to the characters, where’s the depth? What happened to the Leopard culture and the reincarnation thing? And damn it, why do I feel like I am reading those creepy old skool historicals where the heroine is a teen and still a child when she marries with all the patriarchal BS included?
So for any of you out there fearing going back to the earlier books, re-read unabashedly, we aren’t crazy and this doesn’t seem to be the same series anymore.