Shifters Unbound Series
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Sub-genre: Paranormal Romance, Shifters, werebears!, tiger+magic!
So far, I’ve read, in bold:
0.5 Shifter Made
1 Pride Mates
2 Primal Bonds
2.5 Bodyguard (werebears!)
3 Wild Cat
3.5 Hard Mated (Aww!)
4 Mate Claimed
4.5 Perfect Mate (werebears!) (Aww!)
4.6 Lone Wolf
5 Tiger Magic (Super yay!)
5.5 Feral Heat
6 Wild Wolf
6.5 Bear Attraction (Super yay!) (werebears!) (shifter girl, human guy: rare pairing)
7 Mate Bond (worst. ever. urgh)
7.25 Lion Eyes
7.5 Bad Wolf
7.75 Wild Things
8 White Tiger
9 Guardian’s Mate (werebears!)
10 Red Wolf (not out yet)
For those of you that don’t know, the decimals (XX.whatever) mean that they are short stories, written with the intent to be published in collections of various authors as a kind of marketing scheme. The number gives you an idea of where they are in the chronology, but doesn’t necessarily mean they were written before the others.
There are so many short stories in this series that I managed to power through quite a few of them during Christmas Break. Though most of them in paper form are hidden in anthologies, they are easily accessible in ebook form. Now that I figured out how to use my fancy ~*Kindle*~ (fancy to me, anyway), I have ready access to all the little Shifter short stories I can find.
These books remind me of the days of Buffy Seasons 1-3, Angel Seasons 1,2 and 5, and Dark Angel Season 1. You know, that time in the beginning of fantasy show where are the characters are new, and they are still using their powers, and every episode is a Monster of the Week plot line.
Definition: Monster of the Week
A self-contained episode with a villain, beginning, middle, and end. Every villain is unique from the previous ones, and is suitably vanquished by the end. No or little main character drama. Don’t have to see them in order to know what’s going on.
Most fantasy series start out that way, and then inevitably the story line is bogged down by the need for “serious” plot development. I hate that part of the series. The characters are so stuck in their own drama, all other things—magic, personality, plot of the episode, variety—are left to the wayside, and the only thing they seem to do is run around putting out fires and yelling at each other.
The most common catalyst of the downfall of fun episodes is the, also inevitable, Super War.
Definition: Super War
The __ vs __ war that is set to happen at the end of a season. Humans vs Supers, Werewolves vs Vampires, Something vs Something Else, that is supposed to be the end-all-be-all of the tension that has been building the whole season.
UGH, Super Wars. I hate them for the following reasons:
- A fun show suddenly becomes “serious” (see previous rant about serious plot development)
- They are not self-contained in an episode or two. Whole seasons have been dedicated to the gearing up of a Super War.
- The author/writer/director says to themselves “It’s a war, so SOMEONE has to die.” And then they play Eenie-Meenie-Minie-Mo with your favorite characters. If they don’t kill anyone, it’s a cop out. If they do, and it’s someone you like, you are PISSED.
- The buildup is nice, but the war itself is ALWAYS a letdown. The villain is never villain enough; the carnage is never carnagey enough; the characters lose their characteristics and become a drone for The Cause. The hype is not worth the effort to slog through the pseudo war jargon and angry expressions.
I’d rather skip Super Wars completely, if that’s alright. And yet, they do come. Just think about all of the scifi wars that have sucked: Matrix 2 and 3, Deathly Hallows, Angel season 3… So many. So so many.
It’s a good sign that 19 Shifters Unbound books and short stories have passed without a Super War. The characters have started hinting about it (dammit), but can we at least squeeze out a few more of Monster of the Weeks before completely turning to the Shifter vs Fae war brewing?
Fuckin’ Fae, man. They ruin EVERYTHING.
Least Favorite: Pride Mates
The first one was my least favorite, and that is most likely because how I have been reading this series, which has been all over the place, chronologically.
Pride Mates is the first of the series and necessarily has a lot of exposition in the story. I’m pretty well versed in fantasy and paranormal romance so it was no problem for me to jump into the middle of the series and read them all out of order.
I noticed that Jennifer Ashley used some terms in the first book that she later discarded. Fae-Cat, used for the animal form that the shifter turns into, is never used again, thank God.
The guy is Irish, and for the life of me I cannot conjure up an Irish accent to read it in mentally.
Other than that, it’s just a regular ol’ Alpha Male Meets Human Woman story, which is good, but not the most exciting.
Most Favorite: Tiger Magic
Tiger Magic! It’s about a weretiger named Tiger! It was the first one I read, I specifically remember thinking “hee hee, this is so silly…. Oh wait, I think I actually like this. Welp, this is who am I now.”
Awwwwwww, Tiger. I have a special place in my heart for the Strong, Silent, Something Might Be Wrong With Them types. So does Jennifer Ashley, apparently, because the star of the Highlander Series she wrote is Ian MacKenzie, a “mad” Scottish lord that has some sort of vague undiagnosed form of autism. I can’t fully enjoy Ian because it makes me feel a teensy bit ableist. But Tiger! He’s just weird because he’s magic!
Honorable Mention: Bear Attraction
See my thing about werebears. I liked this one is particular because she’s the shifter, he’s the human.
Most Recent: Guardian’s Mate
It’s interesting to compare this one (the most recent) to Pride Mates (the first one). This one is light, loose, and funny. It’s firmly set in the series plot structure: boy meets girl, danger!, boy mate claims girl, explosions!
Zander is a polar bear shifter, and is particularly weird dude. I love it when outcasts get together.
My only issue is that I had a hard time picturing him. Big dude, short black hair, two long white braids/dreadlocks, black goatee. Eh? Say what? First of all, dreadlocks and braids are two different things. While I am battling with that, I always forget the damn goatee.
Bonus! Sneak Series!
I will probably finish all of this series eventually, but after I do, I found out that Jennifer Ashley has a pseudonym: Allyson James! Or maybe Jennifer is Allyson’s pseudonym? Or they are both pseudonyms? Who keeps track of these things?
I read a short story from Allyson James in an anthology, and I’m excited to read it eventually. It’s called the Stormwalker series. She owns a hotel! Aw, reminds me of Angel.