Wild Fire by Christine Feehan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Okay, I'm not even going to front and give this book less than five stars. Is it perfect? No. Is anything in life perfect? No. Does that make life less enjoyable? No. So why shouldn't a less than perfect book get five stars if I thoroughly enjoyed it? So there. I loved this book, so that warrants a five star rating, even if I could state the obvious about Christine Feehan's writing style. Wordy and dense? Yes. Using words repetitively? Yes. Hot hero guaranteed to give the reader a fever? Yes. Incendiary chemistry and love between Conner and Isabeau? Oh, yes. Well, I get what I come for out of Christine Feehan's books, so I'm more than willing to put up with her writing quirks.
To be honest, I was a little worried when I saw the blurb for this book. I don't love reunited lovers stories. I do like stories where the hero and heroine met as part of a mission, and the hero had to seduce the heroine, and they have to deal with that to be able to sort out their relationship. So, I guess that balanced things out for me.
Conner is a great, great hero in this book. He's dark and dangerous, conflicted and tortured. He knows Isabeau is the woman for him, his only woman. There's no doubt in his mind. And that is not a factor in this book. The factor is that he believes she hates him because he betrayed her by seducing her to get to her father, and being part of the group that killed her father: hence his anguish. Also, there's the fact that his father was a complete jerk, abandoning his mate because she wasn't actually his true mate, and he couldn't stand the fact that he had bred Connor on a woman that wasn't his true mate. It makes no sense, does it? Well, Conner thinks he's completely bad and unworthy of his mate, although his cat tells him that she's his and doesn't want to let her go. I love the guys who are all twisted up inside, and that's Conner to a 'T'. I also loved what a good mate Conner was. Some really messed up stuff happens in this book between Isabeau and Conner, and he never blames it on her. It's all tied into the fact that Isabeau is coming into the Han Vol Dan, which is the first heat of the female leopard shifter, when they become able to shift. Something happens with one of the villains that causes this guy to stalk Isabeau, to potentially claim her as his mate. This guy is the lowest of the low, completely crazy, and he savages Isabeau. That was a horrible scene. Believe me. But the way Conner responded was so beautiful. I really liked him before that, and I totally fell in love with him at that point. A girl couldn't ask for a better mate.
Isabeau seems young and emotionally frazzled in this story. But then, she's dealing with a lot. Her father turned out to be a bad man, and Conner and his team were the good guys. But, he died violently, and she was there to see it. In her mind, this was all she could focus on, that and the fact that Conner had seduced her under an assumed name, and she fell for him. Her latent cat comes out and she scratches his face, marking him forever as her mate. But they end up parting, until Isabeau recruits Conner for a mission she thinks he's more than suited for, seducing a terrible female drug czar to infiltrate her compound, as he seduced her. Of course, Conner is not happy that his mate is expecting him to do this. But the alternative she gives him is that she seduce a guard to get in. And no way is he going to let any man near his mate. There's also the fact that children have been kidnapped and held for ransom by this evil woman. So Conner has no choice but to take the mission. And Isabeau is part of the group. This gives them the opportunity to spend time together, and to realize that although Conner lied about who he was, he didn't lie about his feelings for Isabeau. Isabeau has some insecurities about feeling she is what a dangerous, experienced man like Conner would want. But, there's no question about him wanting her.
I thought the Han Vol Dan plot, and how Isabeau was dealing with that, was fascinating. I couldn't imagine having this cat inside of me, who was a straight up hussy, flirting with all kinds of men, and wanting to 'get some' anyway she could, not to mention grumpy as all get out at times. It was an interesting dynamic, and it really helped to contribute to the complexity of this storyline. Isabeau showed a lot of growth over this book. She's not an alpha heroine, and that's okay. I liked her, because she did have a lot of inner strength, integrity, and depth of character. Her love truly helped Conner deal with his grief over his mother, who was killed by the rogue leopard shifter who wants Isabeau, and is working with Imelda Cortez. She doesn't belabor on her resentment about her father, and quickly comes to terms with the fact that her father was not a good man, even if he was a good father to her.
The love scenes were very steamy and well done. I did have a couple of WTH moments. I don't want to be graphic, but what's up with the 'piercing the cervix' part? Ouch!!! Is that supposed to be a cat thing? I could have done without that, thanks. Also, the whole, 'I'm dominant and I want you to do exactly what I tell you in bed' thing doesn't always float my boat. I didn't mind that so much, because Isabeau was fine with it, and Conner really cared about pleasing her, too. I guess it's just a personal taste thing when it comes to the D/s aspects. It wasn't over the top or anything.
I loved all the cat-shifting parts. I thought they were fantastic. I could vividly see the characters in their cat forms. I also loved the mating dance parts when Isabeau goes into her Han Vol Dan. The way Conner's leopard chases hers, and how they play together, and do other things. So well done.
This story is pretty violent. There are some dark and gritty aspects that might not work for a sensitive reader. Imelda Cortez is a really bad woman, and so are her colleagues. They are doing some awful stuff. This is not showed in detail, but you get an idea about how bad they are. And the showdown between Conner and Ottila, the leopard shifter who wants Isabeau? It had me on the edge of my seat. It was very violent and intense, but it absolutely worked for me.
There were also really good male-bonding moments in this book, which I think Ms. Feehan is so good at writing. Sexy Elijah (Rachael's brother who we met in Wild Rain) has a big role in this book, and we meet a new character, young shifter Jeremiah, who's out to prove himself. I think he will make quite the leading man in a later book in this series. Also, Rio from Wild Rain, plays a good-sized part in this book.
So, I've seen the lower ratings this book has gotten. I don't know if I just have lower standards, but I truly enjoyed this book. Although Burning Wild stands out about this book because of the iconic nature of Jake as a hero, I loved this book just as much, because of the relationship aspects between Conner and Isabeau, because of the fascinating and likeable characters, the darker storyline, and the phenomenal action scenes in this book. I have to admit, I like the whole drug cartel storyline--not sure why, but I did. This is really good shifter romance, in my opinion. I'm excited to read the following books in the series. Personally, I recommend this book. It might not be for everyone, but I enjoyed it tremendously. Read this book if you are into cats!
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