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REVIEW: Hunting Love Novellas by Dana Marie Bell, Marie Harte,...

Hunting Love is a series of novellas offered by Samhain which feature shapeshifters of Felidae. Like all Samhain themed novellas, the books share a very similar look so that the reader can easily identify the connection. I read three of the four. * These books are related only by the topic and not the characters or settings. The stories vary quite a bit both in setting and myth. Samhain doesn’t link these books together on its site so if you want to read/buy them all, you have to look for the covers.

The Wallflower by Dana Marie Bell. Max Cannon returns to his hometown to take up the leadership of his Pride. Emma Carter, his old classmate, has always yearned for Max but believes that she is not attractive enough for a stud like Max. I like late bloomers and the old friends to lover story, but this story relied too heavily on shortcuts and stereotypes. First, Emma is supposed to be a wallflower on one hand but is referred to by Max’s second, his beta, as ‘The Little General’.

The construct of the Pride wasn’t really that different than a werewolf pack. I have little patience with this as I see it as cheat. If you are going to write about Packs and mates and whatnot, then write about werewolves. If you are going to write about Felidae then insert some of the characteristics of the catamounts so that the story doesn’t read like a wolf in cat’s clothing. Pumas or other mountain cats are known to be solitary animals. They mate for procreation but do not have packs like a werewolf. I wonder if there actually is such a thing as a ‘beta’ in the mountain lion culture as was used in the Wallflower.

Putting aside the suspect worldbuilding is the unintentionally funny stuff like the fact that Max won his Alpha position by beating out the other shapeshifters while he was still a human. There is no explanation for this. The reader is simply supposed to accept it as true. The relationship was also given short shrift. I know that the novella was short but some of the pages could be used to develop a meaningful relationship that didn’t consist of dinner, sex and post coital “I love yous.” The story relied too heavily on the fated mate concept to provide the clues as to why these two crazy cats should love each other. D

Rachel’s Totem by Marie Harte. Burke Chastell and the other inhabitants of Cougar Falls are searching for the lost totem that protects the town from exposure to the outside world. Charlotte Penny, Chastell’s neighbor, was the guardian of the totem but it disappeared after Charlotte died. Rachel Penny inherits her aunt’s home in Cougar Falls and after a nasty divorce, finding succor in Cougar Falls seems just the ticket. When Rachel shows up in Cougar Falls, Burke is immediately attracted to her, as are many other residents of Cougar Falls. Rachel is in heat, but doesn’t know it. Neither does she know that she is the next guardian of the totem.

I read this one straight after The Wallflower and it was pretty interesting because Rachel’s Totem uses many of the same encounters or incidences that The Wallflower employs but with different results. For example, the instant attraction in Rachel’s Totem is biologically based instead of mystically based (i.e., the fated mate). Chastell lives with his brothers and they have a small clan of sorts. Chastell acknowledges that it is rare for catamounts to bond together but they did so in spite of their natural instincts. Just having the acknowledgment that the setup was outside the norm was enough to make it palatable for me.

I was surprised by the “marking” scene that takes place toward the end of the book which features Rachel being lustfully taken by all the Chastell brothers and I also though that the mysticism part of the story was a little weak (although I tend not to like the woo woo type stories anyway), but compared to The Wallflower, Rachel’s Totem worked better for me on every level. C+

Treasure Hunting by JB McDonald. This story probably was the truest to actual Puma biology and while the story was interesting, one aspect bothered me the entire time. Meg is a college professor whose hobby takes her to the jungle of South America. On one of her expeditions hunting ruins, she finds a wounded jaguar. She tranqs him and drags him back to her camp. The next morning, her guides abandon her because of her ‘cat’. She soon finds out that the jaguar is actually a man. Meg accepts this with some amazement but having watched him turn, she can’t deny the truth.

Santiago is the wounded shapeshifter and he needs helps getting to his family. While the two maneuver through the jungle, Santiago and Meg fall in love with one another but are kept apart due to misunderstanding. Santiago thinks that Meg is disgusted by a ‘cat-man’ and Meg can’t believe that a ‘cat-god’ would be interested. This is a sweet love story with a very fun twist at the end. The big nagging problem is that when Meg and Santiago speak to each other in Spanish (although it reads in English but the understanding is that the two are speaking Spanish) and the sentence patterns are distinctly English. I guess I feel like if an author is going to use another language as the mode of communication, the translated English should be in the rhythm and using the idioms of that other language. B-

*The book I did not read/review is "Claiming Their Mate" by Paige McKellan and not for any reason.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Kimber An
    May 19, 2008 @ 09:16:08

    I’ve never read these and, honestly, they don’t sound like my cup of tea. I’m not into shapeshifters. However, in regards to worldbuilding and TREASURE HUNTING, the jaguar-god thing is an indigeonous myth – Aztec, I believe. Therefore, shouldn’t the protagonists be speaking in an indigeonous language with reference to the myth? Not Spanish. I can understand why the woman would speak Spanish, but I would also expect her to be very familiar with local mythology and language too. She wouldn’t be too smart to venture into a South American rain forest without knowing what she was getting into. I wouldn’t expect the jaguar-man to know any Spanish. If I was into shapeshifters, I couldn’t suspend my disbelief if the worldbuilding isn’t grounded. Again, I haven’t read it, so maybe it is and it just didn’t come out in the review.

  2. Angela James
    May 19, 2008 @ 11:18:54

    Thanks for the reviews, Jane. I hope you don’t mind if I note that there are six total. In addition to Claiming Their Mate, you also didn’t review Tiger by the Tail by Kaye Chambers and Even for Me by Taryn Blackthorne, the urban fantasy novellas.

  3. Ciar Cullen
    May 19, 2008 @ 11:53:38

    I read Tiger by the Tail and loved it. Just sayin.

  4. Jane
    May 19, 2008 @ 13:04:37

    Thanks for the update Angie. I didn’t see the other two books on the Samhain site (I was looking for the similar covers) but admittedly only did a cursory search.

  5. MissKitty
    May 19, 2008 @ 14:08:22

    I guess I feel like if an author is going to use another language as the mode of communication, the translated English should be in the rhythm and using the idioms of that other language.

    Erm… what?
    This is interesting to me, since I write in English, but in fact have German as first language.
    I know that there are a distinct rhyme and melody to any language and I know my writing has a certain “German” way of using words.
    But this is more accidentally, a side effect of being German.

    Please tell me you´re not talking about sprinkling a Spanish word here
    and there for the sake of authenticism.

  6. Jane
    May 19, 2008 @ 14:19:10

    No Miss Kitty, I’m not talking about sprinkling a Spanish word here or there. That’s probably as bad. I’m talking about the fact like you said – there is a rhyme and melody to any language that when translated still has a certain sound to it.

    I.e., I felt like if the characters were going to speak in Spanish but it would be translated as English for the reader, then it should have maintained the rhythm and sentence structure of the Spanish language. I felt that in the Joanna Bourne book. Annique was French and the narrative of her character had a distinct feel to it.

  7. Kimber An
    May 19, 2008 @ 17:21:45

    I think the cover art for Rachel’s Totem is so cool, by the way.

  8. All About Samhain « Jorrie Spencer
    May 20, 2008 @ 07:51:59

    […] Rachel’s Totem by Marie Harte C+ […]

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