First rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club. Same is true in Hard Mated. In this Shifters Unbound novella, we get an up close and personal look at Spike, one of the Austin Shiftertown’s top trackers and fighters. His success in the underground shifter fights is unparalleled, but all that brawn is a cover for loneliness inside.
I love Jennifer Ashley’s incredible ability to describe the Shiftertown world as it exists in Texas. She creates a society that is not only believable but relatable. Spike’s story is action packed – no boring lulls or time to catch your breath. I loved to see his character in depth as he faced, accepted and conquered his obstacles. Bad guys, watch out! He’s one tough jaguar and when push comes to shove he won’t back down.
One thing I frequently dislike about romance novellas no matter the genre – historical, contemporary, paranormal, etc. – is the usually rushed feeling of the relationship between the hero & his heroine. It has to be challenging for a writer to include all the essential elements and in about half the number of pages. Readers are just expected to accept that characters are in love without any reason or proof for it, especially with shifters where a lot of things are attributed to instinct. I didn’t feel that with Hard Mated. There was plenty of tension, build up and the payoff was very sweet.