Having lost his parents and mate in a brutal attack on his cougar shifter pride by a hunter organisation, Rath burns with a need to keep humans off his land and out of his life. He’ll do whatever it takes to protect his pride from them, but when a lone female wanders into his territory, it isn’t a burning need to drive her away he’s feeling and it isn’t his pride that needs protecting—it’s his heart.
Down on her luck, Ivy follows a lead to a spot where she hopes to photograph black bears, but what she discovers there is a mountain of a man who lacks manners and seems determined to drive her off his property—a man who stirs unbidden fire in her veins and a strange sense of home.
With a pride gathering on the verge of happening at Cougar Creek and the air charged with a mating heat, the last thing Rath needs is a human on his land, especially one as beautiful and alluring as Ivy, one who rouses a fierce need to fight for her, but he can’t convince himself to let her go… and that proves dangerous for them both.
This story is the first book in a new shifter series called Cougar Creek Mates Shifter Romance Series, which is an offshoot of the Eternal Mates series (which I love) and based in the same world.
Rath is a character whom I liked a lot. He has all the traits of an alpha male - strong, protective, and possessive. Being a cougar shifter, however, he also likes his space and is used to being solitary. When a human unexpectedly crosses into his territory in search of black bears to photograph, Rath is determined to chase her off before the rest of the pride arrives for the gathering, but it quickly becomes apparent that there's more to Ivy than being just a pesky human - she's his mate.
Ivy Wentworth is a strong female character. I liked her a lot too. A freelance photographer, she is determined to track down black bears in their natural habitat. Instead, she finds herself confronted by a surly man determined to drive her off his land. As danger draws unknowingly closer, Ivy finds herself fighting her attraction to the mysterious Rath.
I started reading this story, told through Rath's and Ivy's points of view, and it swept me up into the tale and carried me away. Rath is a little rough around the edges, and Ivy is like a babbling brook that smooths them, so together they make a lovely couple. My only bug-bear about this story was the insta-love between the main characters. Insta-love, no. Insta-lust, yes. They knew each other for less than a week and, with Ivy being a human, I don't think she would fall head over heels so quickly. Another thing I found about this story is that it felt too short - more like a novella than a novel even though there are 150 pages, and it also felt a little rushed near the end as if the author had quickly wrapped it up to get an HEA ending.
As this series is part of the Eternal Mates world, there is mention of Archangel, the same agency that has been hunting other shifter species in that series. Alexander, Ivy's sponsor, is vaguely introduced; he only appears close to the end of the story and is in one scene. I felt he didn't have enough development into a villainous character for me to love to hate him. It's as if the author just used him as a way to introduce Archangel into the equation, which annoyed me. Rath's younger brother, Storm, is also introduced to the reader. Again, this character doesn't get much page time, but as he is the intended main character in the next book in the series, I suppose we'll get to know him better then. Gabriella, Alexander's half-sister, is also brought into the tale near the end and will be in the second book as one of the main characters. There's a preview of Storm and Gabriella's story at the end of this book.
I reached the end of the book with mixed feelings. I love the shifter world the author has created but feel let down by the rushed feel to the story. I don't know if she is putting on too much pressure onto herself to get these books out quickly, or not. I prefer quality over quantity, and this book is decidedly below her best work, even though I still loved it. I hope the other books in the series are less rushed, and I am looking forward to reading the next book soon.
Felicity Heaton has written another fast-paced, sexy paranormal romance that I thoroughly enjoyed. I love her fast-paced writing style, which flows effortlessly from scene to scene. She is still on top of my favourite author's list.
I do not recommend this book to younger readers due to the extremely HOT and explicit sexual scenes. However, I highly recommend this book (and series) if you love sexy paranormal romances full of cat shifters and other paranormal species. - Lynn Worton