REVIEW: Marked by Aline Hunter
Dear Ms. Hunter:
I’ve read and enjoyed your shapeshifter romances in the past, so requesting this book from you was a no-brainer for me.
Chloe Bryant is mystified to find herself in front of The Wolf’s Den, a tattoo parlor in the seedier side of town. She’s determined to have a tattoo done over the crescent shaped birth mark that has just shown up on her arm. The birth mark itself itches and tingles and is bothering her something fierce. She’s decided that a nice, girly butterfly tattoo will be perfect to cover it up. Along with the birth mark have come some incredibly vivid dreams of a faceless man who does all sorts of luscious things to her. She’s completely freaked out about the whole thing, and just wants the tattoo to cover the mark and to move on with her life. As she’s getting out of the cab, she’s warned by the taxi driver that this is an unsafe part of town for a human, but she is not able to fight the compulsion to have her tattoo done at The Wolf’s Den.
Imagine Chloe’s shock when she walks into The Wolf’s Den and the man she’s been dreaming of is in front of her. Even without ever having seen his face, she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jackson Donovan is that man. To go along with her shock, her birthmark is now painful and sore.
Jackson is, of course, Chloe’s mate. He’s known for some time that he was mated, as he’s been enjoying dreamsharing with Chloe. Even though he didn’t know her name, he knew for sure that she would come to him at his place of business. And now here she is – even more perfect than he could imagine. But Chloe is not just shifter, she’s also human. Jackson has no idea how his pack will react to their alpha taking a hybrid wolf as his lupa. But that Chloe is his mate is undeniable. Jackson can barely concentrate and is urged by his beta, Declan to take Chloe away from town in order to explain what is going on, and to consummate their bonding.
Chloe is not shocked to hear that Jackson is a wolf. She’s been fascinated with other species for some time. She is, however, incredibly shocked to hear that she is his mate. There are no wolves in her family. She doesn’t believe she is one, even though she can’t deny her overwhelming attraction to Jackson. It’s not until she takes Jackson home to meet her grandparents, that she learns the truth, Chloe’s father is the alpha of another pack of wolves in the area. He abandoned her when she was a child, and left her grandparents to raise her. They made the decision to never tell Chloe of her upbringing. Chloe’s grandfather insists on coming along when Jackson presents Chloe to his pack and the other packs in the area. Ostensibly to ensure that Chloe is treated with honor, but mostly to kill Chloe’s father, who he believes is responsible for her mother’s death. Will Chloe be accepted by Jackson’s pack? What will her father do when he realizes it’s his daughter mating with Jackson? Will Chloe be able to act as Jackson’s lupa?
This book is what I’d call a set-up book. It mostly focuses on building the parameters of the world, and setting up the next book almost to the detriment of the romance, which I thought was its main weakness. I wish that you’d spent more time exploring the many threads that you opened as the story unfolded. I never understood the reasons behind Chloe’s father’s abandonment. I didn’t really understand his motivations, and if I’d been Chloe I’d have been more unforgiving. You also introduce the fact that there are several packs in the area, but don’t really explain the politics between them. Are they rival packs? Do they work together? Who is their enemy? Do they have one? Also, you gave no introduction to Jackson’s pack, except for his beta, Declan, who is clearly sequel-bait. It seemed like there was a lot going on, but not much explained within the book.
Even considering those complaints, I enjoyed Jackson and Chloe’s chemistry, when we spent time with them. You have always written extremely hot, inventive love scenes, and Marked is no exception. Jackson could have been a really interesting hero, as alpha and dominant as he was, even while showing true tenderness towards Chloe and her needs. But I wish that we’d been able to understand him and his history more. While this is not by any means my favorite of your books, I’m interested enough in the unanswered questions, that I’ll probably read the next book. I just wish you’d done more with the many threads you introduced. Marked gets a C+ from me.