A number of months ago I reviewed the first in this series from Lorie O'Clare entitled Black Seduction, the story of a den of jaguar shapeshifters, the VicMoran brothers, plus Angela Kalusian, who live in a community in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Angela's littermate, Natasha, once her closest and dearest friend besides being her sister, now has decided that the coffers of the community can be enriched by "selling" her community members as mercenary killers for hire. She is bloated with the greed for wealth and power, and the VicMoran brothers and Angela are wanting no part of it. They leave, and their destination is Central America, the only other place where jaguar shapeshifters reside, deep in the heart of the Costa Rican rain forest. In the course of their journey, Angela and Raul become mates.
Now this second novel in the series picks up the story of these brothers as they have not settled in their new home. Angela and Raul VicMoran have established their own den, and the Ran and Rafe, as single males, have a den of their own. This novel is really Ran's story and how he acquires a mate, one he is not sure he really wants but obtains in spite of his reservations about her family, especially her mother.
While the first novel was really insight more into the personal relationship of Raul and Angela and the inner workings of a family, this second novel expands on what it means to be a part of the greater community with its power struggles, its family dynamics, and how this jaguar community resolves the issues that are vital to its survival. The evil that was left behind in Colorado is now threatening them and Ran's expertise with computer technology assists them in being prepared for the onslaught of unprincipled forces who want to capture these shapeshifters and force them to be mercenary killers to satisfy Natash's greed and lust for power.
At the core of this story, however, is Ran and Olivia's love story and the dynamics of their mating. Olivia is out of step with her community; she wants to be independent, determining her future for herself, yet forced to remain in her parents' den as a single female, under the heavy hand of her overbearing mother and her seeminly passive father. Yet her desire to mate with Ran, a male who has fascinated her ever since the brothers arrived in her community, gets out of control. Even though Ran is aware of her mother's penchant for being in charge (a position that is not favored throughout the jaguar community), Ran is drawn to this beautiful feline and mates with her. He is distressed at her unwillingness to be cooperative with the rules of the community and resists moving forward with the mating process. Yet his desire for her does not fade, and in spite of all his efforts, her scent remains on him--proof positive that she is already his mate.
The ups and downs of this rocky romance, complicated by a manipulative mom, outside pressures from those seeking to capture and imprison the jaguars, form the core of this novel. I think Ms O'Clare has a true story teller's heart and yet in this second novel I think the words got just a little bit away from her. Unlike the first book, she lost just a little of her edge, efficiency and economy of word usage and the passages containing internal dialogue, especially over the problems with Olivia's mother, just seemed to get away from her. Now this may be more about me as a former English teacher than about the author. I am more than willing to acknowledge that. But in spite of what I felt was an overload of verbage at some points, I think this is a really good story and a very enjoyable one. I like shapeshifter stories anyway so was fascinated with the fictional society that O'Clare created. It was inventive and brought in the tension often encountered when two males are interested in one female, the part played by the larger community in the process, and the internal family dynamic. The loving was certainly hot, but I felt it was well balanced within the context of the wider community. I was quite taken with their interdependence. Would that humans could work so well together.
So I can recommend this novel as one that feline shapeshifter fans as well as romance fans would probably enjoy and find readable and stimulating. I give it a rating of 3.75 out of 5.