Leopard's Prey by Christine Feehan
My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars
Leopard's Prey is Remy Boudreaux's story and he lives up to the anticipation he built when he entered the scene the first time in Savage Nature. It's been a year since I read a Feehan book, so Remy's book is a great way to break my fast. I knew Remy would be 'something else,' the kind of hero only Feehan can write. With Bijou, he gets the story and the heroine that I wished for.
I will freely admit that the GhostWalkers is my favorite series by Feehan, and the others pale in comparison, so I make sure my expectations reflect the fact that all the redoubtable Ms. Feehan's writing gets measured against this series, because of my inestimable love for it. However, I am always very happy to get my hands on another book by her, since I just plain enjoy her writing. She has some interesting stories with characters I fall for and burning hot and emotional love stories. That's what this romance fan loves.
Anyway, Leopard's Prey is steeped in Louisiana bayou atmosphere. The characters are almost all natives of this region, and based on my short visits to this part of the United States, I felt like I was taking another trip down there and enjoying it, taking in the sights and sounds. Additionally, the feel of family is strong in this novel. The Boudreaux clan of brothers and sister, along with the larger Leopard Clan, are tightly bonded to each other, loving and teasing each other, sometimes in mean ways (but it's all in fun). Bijou, who had just about the most dysfunctional childhood ever, needs a family like this, full of people who watch out for each other, even as they give each other a hard time.
Bijou is the daughter of a notorious, yet beloved rock star. This is very important to the story because it affects everything in Bijou's adult life and all her relationships. He failed her beyond measure as a parent, scarring her self-esteem and sense of confidence, despite her incredibly beautiful looks and formidable musical talent of her own. I really liked her character. Despite her awful start in life, she's grown into a wonderful woman with a generous heart and a strong core, despite her insecurities. Remy and Bijou have a long-standing and deep bond from an event a long time ago, when he saves her life as an eight-year-old, but their lives go in different directions. Remy is quite older than Bijou, but in some ways, she has as much to teach him and he does her. Remy needs to learn the language of love that Bijou speaks. He takes it for granted that she night not understand how special she is, when she doesn't have that frame of reference at all. Growing up the way she did, how could she? Remy knows intellectually that Bijou is clueless on their shared leopard heritage. However, he doesn't get that she might interpret the strong sexual attraction they share as merely a function of the Leopards' sexual needs and not any higher bond between them, or that she is special to Remy. So a good chunk of the book is about them exploring their relationship and coming to understand just what it means on both sides to be together (paired to the murder mystery).
Bijou and Remy had great chemistry. The love scenes are quite scorching. Feehan makes a big deal about the leopard's need for rough sex, and it does veer in that direction, but nothing too out there or tasteless, in my mind. I do roll my eyes a bit at the whole 'dominating' aspect of the love scenes, 'cause that's not my thing at all. There is no question that Remy is a sexy beast though! I like how Feehan uses the love scenes to show the different aspects of their relationship: primal, affectionate, deeply emotional and fiercely intimate, and even playful. I also appreciated how Feehan presents the leopard nature. She gets the aspect of this big cat right, and it fits in with this story of human leopard shapeshifters. In some ways, this story reminded me of the film Cat People, but with a much happier ending that I always wished for.
I can only give this in the four stars region because I feel like this story could have been longer. I felt like I missed something when it ended. Maybe I am just very rapacious when it comes to books by this author. She gets me hooked and I hate when the ride is over too soon. The story moves along at an expansive pace, and before I knew it, things were wrapping up. For those who are following the Leopard storyline, this doesn't add a whole lot to the overall Leopard shapeshifter species arc from the beginning. It focuses on the Boudreaux family and the specific group in the Louisiana bayou. Some of the original guys show up in cameos, which was cool. As far as the storyline, it was more of a murder mystery/romantic suspense with paranormal romance, and lacks as much action as some of Feehan's books. I did think the mystery was quite suspenseful and the aspects of the murder was kind of gruesome and disturbing. The killer was not the person I expected at all (Well, I got this sick suspicion later on in the story and was hoping I was wrong). The reasons were very chilling for that person's actions, although there could be no palatable reason for what the murderer was doing.
Although not a five star book, it was higher in the four star range, because I enjoyed reading it immensely, and I tried to savor reading it. I could have done with more book, as I said earlier, so that takes off from my rating. I couldn't subtract too much because of the high enjoyment factor. I have so much fun visiting with Feehan's characters in the various series, and I admit the Leopard series did sneak up on me. I loved Bijou as much if not more than Remy, which is saying something. She's a sweet woman, and you just want her to have her happy ever after. I'm glad that her prince is Remy and she's going to be a part of the Boudreaux clan and will get the family she missed out on. I'm curious to see what Feehan comes up with next in this series.
Overall rating: 4.25/5.0 stars.
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