Title: His Darkest Embrace (Jaguar Warriors #2)
Author: Juliana Stone
Publication Date: 1st November 2010
Genre: Paranormal Romance
A solitary hunter with no regard for the human world, Jagger Castille is a shifter living on the edge. It will take the woman who calls him enemy to give him a reason to live.
Jagger is a creature of the night—Skye Knightly soars in the sun. Natural adversaries, they have been joined by destiny in a mission entrusted to Skye’s family centuries ago: Nothing less than the salvation of the Earth.
Wounded and bitter, Jagger sought escape in the solitude of the jungle, driven by a need to disappear forever… until a mysterious shifter who calls to his soul and feeds a yearning long forgotten, pulls him from his dark path. A courageous warrior, Skye’s passion is equal to Jagger’s own—but can she trust a man on the edge? A man whose secrets are as devastating as her own?
Each is the other’s sole hope for survival. But a dark and twisted truth is leading them toward the ultimate sacrifice for a love they may never live to claim.
I believe an author has a responsibility to provide their readers with a complete story – series or no series. With this book the author did not do that.
I absolutely loved the first book in the series and raved about it to anyone who would listen. I loved the world the author created, and loved the way the story unfolded. Juliana Stone has an interesting take on shapeshifters, which is always a relief in an overcrowded genre. This one picks up pretty much where the last left off, which means we’re dumped in the middle of the jungle with a bunch of supernatural creatures and no connection to the human world. The first book was about supernatural creatures in the human world (as I incorrectly assumed the entire series would be), and about the secret government agency that employs them. This one was simply a jungle romp, where the hero and heroine wandered aimlessly through the wild for the entire book, occasionally encountering other supernatural creatures.
Unlike the last book, this one was missing the mystery and the intricate plot. The characters’ one and only goal was to locate a demon portal of sorts and destroy it. The ONE and ONLY plot point. Not only don’t I think that was enough to sustain an entire book, but I reached the end and was shocked that instead of that goal being achieved, we were left with an open-ended finish and a push to buy the next book to discover if the mission is ever completed. Not only that, but the final chapter sees a number of major characters disappear in a fight. We end with the hero and heroine happy in bed, it’s uncertain if they’ve closed the portal, and they have no idea where the missing characters are.
That is not an ending, and it is not a complete book. I felt cheated.
The lack of resolution aside, I didn’t connect with the characters in this one as I did with the leads in the last book, and after they spent the entire story being cruel to each other I simply could not buy their relationship. It was especially hard to buy their happy finish when the book ended with both of their families missing in action. People from the first book, and people I expect will play bigger roles in the next book, drift in and out of the story. In ‘His Darkest Hunger’ the cast of characters worked together towards a common goal. The feeling the secret agency was a well-established group worked well for me. Here the agency is mentioned but not seen.
Skye was not a character I could understand. She went from feminine to she-man and back again so many times I couldn’t relate to her. I have no problem with swearing in books, but the way Skye spoke had my fingers itching to wash her mouth out with soap. Her toughness was all on the surface – cursing endlessly and threatening to punch and/or kill everyone. I usually enjoy reading about shifters, but there was something strange about a woman who turns into an eagle and gets transported places by perching on her lover’s arm.
Skye did some truly stupid things. At one point she shifts and flies away to show off how tough and hardcore she is. But she leaves behind the satchel of important items she’d been closely guarding, and also her clothes. I don’t believe anyone could be that stupid, and I don’t like when a character commits an act of sheer idiocy simply to further the plot.
Jagger was alternately appealing and awful. Some of the things he did were terrible –such as tying Skye up with rope, to a tree, and leaving her there while he went off on his own. They had a jungle full of enemies after them – and this jungle was full of vicious animals. Why would a man leave his mate there, defenceless?! I had a hard time liking a hero who behaved that way.
I was incredibly frustrated by this book. The first book excited me because I was so happy to discover an original ‘world’ in amongst all the near-identical shifter books out there. I loved the story from start to finish and had really been looking forward to this one. I certainly hope this is a weak book in a good series, and that the next one returns to the series’ original strength.
I can highly recommend the first book in the series: ‘His Darkest Hunger’. This follow-up is one of the biggest disappointments I’ve ever read. There is no resolution to the story and the hero and heroine are both unlikeable people. ‘His Darkest Embrace’ is only half a book, and I feel cheated by the expectation I’ll hold out for the next one to get the ending to the story that should have been here.
SOURCE: Thank you to Avon for sending BCC this book for review via Net Galley.
You can find out more about this author here: