Shannon (Giraffe Days)'s Reviews > On The Prowl

On The Prowl by Crystal Jordan
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's review
Apr 25, 09

really liked it
bookshelves: paranormal, shape-shifters, 2009, autographed, review-copy, erotic-romance
Read in April, 2009

The title may be less than original but the story has plenty going for it.

Panther shape-shifters, a species as old as ours, have existed alongside us in absolute secrecy. Each continent has its own Pride, with all the members of the Pride living together. They're not immortal, but sleep rejuvenates them and allows them to lead a slightly longer, healthier life. They're very uninhibited, sexually, and promiscuous until they find their mate, the one panther meant for them. It's only with their mate, and only in panther form, that they can conceive, and so the panther population is low and well-protected.

In the first story, "Claim Me", Antonio has just inherited the North American Pride from his father, Esteban, now dead. Having spent the last fifteen years with the South American Pride, he barely knows his younger twin brothers, Ricardo and Diego, and hasn't seen his sister Andrea for a long time either. He brings back with him Miguel, to act as his Second, and a more modern outlook.

But even his tolerant, accepting approach is tested to its limit when he finds his mate, Solana, and discovers she's a non-shifter - a rare panther born with the heightened senses like eyesight and strength, but without the ability to shift. Which means: no children for them. For the leader of a Pride to take a non-shifter as mate is unthinkable, but he can't stay away from her. Solana, persecuted most of her life by other panthers because of her lack of shifting ability, wants him to stay away but can't resist the draw of mates. How can they reconcile their desire for each other with the needs of the pride?

The second story, "Take Me", brings Antonio's sister Andrea back from her clothing designer business to the Pride. Having run away at a young age, her past haunts her. Meeting her mate, Miguel, sets off a whirlwind of desire but she's determined not to let a male control her again, and sets limits on their relationship that nearly ruin them. Can Miguel help her face her demons and convince her he won't hurt her? Can she ever trust him?

"Need Me", the third story, focuses on wild playboy twins Ric and Diego, lawyers by day, tag team by night. They always take their women together, and when Isabel turns up from the European Pride, seeking asylum, and they discover they're both her mates, it seems a perfect match. But Isabel is reluctant to commit while a panther from the Spanish pride is making the insane demand that he's her mate, and the twins take their dare devil antics to life-threatening heights - literally.

On the Prowl is perfectly structured, introducing the characters and panther world at a steady pace, building on the culture with each story. The stories focus on relationships, and it makes a nice change that even though fate has predetermined who their mates are, it doesn't make for an instant perfect relationship: they have to work at it.

Which brings me to the characters. I need strong character development and even though Jordan is working with short stories here, she uses the space she has well in creating engaging, passion-driven characters who have some pretty darn good excuses to resist the mating thing. They aren't complicated characters, but they are endearing. I especially liked Miguel, and the twins' banter.

The novel is erotica as well as romance, and we get all the classic positions, places, a bit of light bondage and a Ménage à trois. The prose carries the graphic scenes without letting it slip into the indulgent and over-the-top Christine Feehan style, or tacky or awkward. It's easy to get swept up in the characters, um, experimentation.

While the novel never grabbed me like Kresley Cole or Beth Kery - two of my favourite romance and erotic romance writers - it held its own when the premise could have been downright silly and cheesy. Besides that, I love Big Cats (always need capitals!), so Jordan was always going to win me over there!
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