My Rating: 3.5 stars: Liked it - recommend (B+)
Gabriela Segura left her small town of Bear Mountain, Montana almost five years ago. Secret work for the government and a broken heart has kept her away. But after losing her entire team, it was time for Gabriela to head home and regroup, hoping to avoid the man, Owen Wright, who hurt her ten years ago. When she arrives in town, she is almost immediately taken against her will by Owen’s little brother, who thinks he can use her as leverage to find out who’s been killing innocent humans in town.
Thankfully, once Owen finds out what Ethan did, he orders Gabriela freed. The couple reunite and sparks fly, now that the two are both consenting adults and clearly ready to pick up where they left off all those years ago. Although uncertain of what their passion will lead to, the pair agree to work together to solve the mystery of the human deaths.
A Jaguar’s Kiss is an entertaining addition to Ms. Reus' HQN Nocturnal Cravings novella series. In this third story, the setting moves from Alabama to Montana, where we are introduced to the Jaguar shifter species, as well as a new wolf pack. Although the setting and characters are all new, the story takes place in the same world as the first two novellas. This book is completely stand alone.
I like that the reader is given information about Gabriela and Owen’s past in small doses throughout the story, rather than one large information dump at the beginning. For example, we learn that although she’s only been away for four (plus) years, Gabriela has not seen or spoken with her childhood best friend and first love, Owen in a decade. For a while, the reader isn’t privy what happened just at the cusp of a relationship moving beyond friends when the pair were teens. Yet in time, the truth comes out, but only when the couple is ready to deal with the past and determine if there will be a future. It is enjoyable to see how both individuals have grown and matured in their time apart.
I thoroughly delighted in the easy nature of this novella. We are given just enough history to allow for us to care about the couple and cheer on their success. And wow! are they are hot together - years of pent up sexual frustration explode. I admire that Owen and Gabriela didn't even ask "who were you with while we were apart," or get hung up on past actions. And although she is determined to stay mad - Gabriela realizes it's not worth her happiness, and she takes a risk with her heart.
The mystery of who/what is behind the killings is dealt with quickly, but satisfactorily. It's not the drive of the novella - but provides reason for the pair to work together. Additional side stories such as involvement of Gabriela’s brother and Owen's sister serve to add some depth to the shortened-length story.
After reading three of her novellas, I have to say the Ms. Reus excels at the shortened format. She understands how to give the reader just enough background to understand the situation and care for the characters. She provides a conflict that can be wrapped up by the end without feeling contrived. If you are looking for a sexy, entertaining afternoon read, look no further than A Jaguar’s Kiss.