The Awakening by Christine Feehan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A nice introduction to the Leopard series. I'm late reading this, but I finally got an opportunity. I splurged and downloaded Fever (a duology of "The Awakening" and Wild Rain, which I've already read. This took me a while because I was listening to it on Kindle Text-To-Speech at bedtime, and I kept falling asleep and having to rewind.
We learn about the Leopard shifters and how their society and physiology works. We're along for the ride as Maggie Odessa goes to the Borneo rain forest to find out about her birth parents. She's been lured there by Brandt Talbot, the man who happens to be her destined mate. He's known for some time that she was his mate (in their race they spend lifetimes looking for their mates). Maggie has no idea that she's a Leopard shifter. She's getting some feelings and physiological changes that don't make sense and are actually quite embarrassing, including some amorous feelings when that wasn't a problem before now.
At first, Brandt seems a bit stalkerish. I don't mind that if it's done well. It was a little weird in this book. He was stalking along beside Maggie in panther form when she arrives with some of the Leopard Men to their village. I was like, could you just say hi already? I was glad he finally introduced himself, and I think that he did come a little too strong at first. However, I liked that he realized that his love for Maggie meant that he had to make sure she was happy with being with him. I like that it wasn't going to be a foregone conclusion that she would accept him. He gave her the choice. Interestingly enough, I found Brandt quite a desirable contrast to the hero in Cat's Lair, who assumed and was willing to force his mate to accept him. I think that Maggie and Brandt are a really excellent match, although I didn't feel that way at all about the couple in "Cat's Lair."
I really liked that Maggie gained control of her change on her own, and I loved the scene when she changes for the first time. That was very well done. I felt like I was seeing and feeling everything along with her. The rainforest and its flora and fauna was beautifully rendered in Feehan's descriptive pose. I wouldn't love the humidity or the insects, but I would love seeing so much vibrant life firsthand.
This was pretty darn steamy. Less of the off color words that are in the newer books, but no less steamy. Great chemistry between Maggie and Brandt. Not hard to believe they loved each other, even in this short format.
The suspense aspect was a little weak, to be honest. Feehan was a bit preachy about the environmental message. Don't get me wrong. I'm 100% on board with conservation and environmental awareness, but I don't like when it comes off as a Public Service Announcement in a fiction novel. But overall, this was a satisfactory short story. I'll give it the full four stars.
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