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Review: Mercy AND Redemption (2 books) by Eleri Stone

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Mercy
Redemption
Author: Eleri Stone
Release Dates: see below
Publisher: Carina Press

Lost City Shifters #1 & #2

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format(s): e-book
Book Source: purchased with my own funds

About the books:

     Mercy (Release date Sept. 1, 2010):  To the Yaguara, an ancient jaguar shape-shifting people living deep in the Amazon jungle, nothing matters more than strength. Iada is their champion; genetically pure, she has been trained since birth to fight. Her destiny is to become the next Queen of the Yaguara by winning the tournament of succession–a battle to the death.
     Her opponent is Gabriel, a half-blooded outcast whose mother was human. To everyone’s shock, he defeats Iada but does not strike the death blow–instead, he extends mercy, thereby claiming her as his mate.
     Despite their enmity, the attraction between them is powerful, and soon they are mates in more than name only. Their mutual distrust serves only to fuel their passion–two champions bested only by their overpowering desire for each other.
     But Gabriel has an agenda that threatens the most basic tenets of Yaguara society–and that will force Iada to choose between her people or her King.
     Redemption (Release date Sept. 26, 2011):  Blamed for a heinous crime and banished from his tribe of Jaguar shifters, Adriano will do anything to buy back his rightful place—even steal a priceless artifact. First, he’ll have to seduce Sophie Martin, an archaeologist researching the temple ruins and the one person who stands in his way.
Sophie wants to uncover the artifact as well—not to sell it, but to study it. It could unlock all the secrets of an ancient and mysterious civilization. But it’s hard to focus on her work when the distractingly sexy Adriano is nearby.
     What begins as a seduction quickly turns into mutual passion as Adriano’s touch awakens a side of Sophie she’d kept hidden—and arouses his Jaguar instincts. To preserve his people’s secret and earn his redemption, Adriano needs the artifact. But when a rival thief kidnaps Sophie, Adriano will be forced to choose—between the people who rejected him in the past, or the woman who could be his future…

What VampBards talking about:

     I was really interested in the synopses I read for Eleri Stone’s Lost City Shifters series.  So much so, that I picked up the first two installments of the series before reviewing the third (review coming April 23, 2013).  Definitely a great tactical move on my part.  I think I’ve found another auto-buy series!
Mercy:  4 stars (A-)
     HEAT INDEX:  3 out of 5.  Steamy, but not smokin’.
     Iada is definitely one of the most independent and kick-ass heroines I’ve read in awhile.  She’s like Elle Jasper’s Riley Poe in her Dark Ink Chronicles.  I really like the way Iada is expected to win a battle to the death for the crown of the Yaguara jaguar shifters.  It. Is. Expected.  Seriously.  She does kick some serious ass, too.  She nearly won, but Gabriel bested her in the arena.
     Gabriel, a half-breed shifter, won the throne of the Yaguara by defeating Iada in the arena.  He didn’t kill her, and by rights, could claim her as his mate.  Quite a tactical political move, considering he would have to work very hard to earn the respect of the people without the visible support of Iada.
     There wasn’t a lot of ‘pages’ to this title.  I wish there had been, however.  I think there was enough content to create a 300-page book.  That’s my only ‘dislike’ for this title, to be honest.  The story moved-moved-MOVED to resolution.  I liked how Gabriel took Iada to ‘his’ people and she was treated as an outcast.  Turnabout is fair play, and all that jazz.  I liked how Gabriel protected her from disparaging remarks and glares as much as possible, but ultimately she did need to take some shit from his people.  I was really happy that Iada got to see her sister, too … o/) It’s a small world after all o/) was running through my head… how could Gabriel actually know her sister?!?!  Of all the towns, she had to walk into his…
     Even though there was a lot of political jockeying, I did enjoy watching the relationship between Gabriel and Iada develop.  Initially, it was simply physical, and I felt that Iada was ‘doing her duty’.  By the time they got to Gabriel’s safe house (the next day?!?!), I thought that Iada actually cared about him, and him about her.  It seemed as though they were truly involved – they looked for one another across the courtyard during the party – and were looking out for one another.
     As the conflict reached it’s apex, I was shocked.  I couldn’t believe what Gabriel said!!!  Seriously.  But, never fear… there IS a HEA.  I usually can predict the direction in which a story will resolve.  I didn’t see this one coming.  Definitely worth the hour or so it took me to read!
Redemption4 stars (A-) 
     Heat Index:   3 out of 5.
     I’m not gonna lie.  I completely identified with Sophie, the heroine in Redemption, the second offering from Eleri Stone’s Lost City Shifters series.  Losing herself in her work, this survivor has made something of her life, even after tragedy.  Women like Sophie are few and far between, and I think that’s why Adriano was so smitten by her.
     Sophie is the epitome of self-sufficient.  She wants to only need herself and her own accomplishments to feel whole, but ultimately, she realizes that is not the case.  She thinks that her academic success will bring her the sense of calm she has been seeking since her twin sister’s death.  An expert in reading languages, and in archaeological exploration, Sophie is trying to piece together ancient languages in an effort to publish something  that will win her the fellowship she needs to fund graduate school.    She never intended to find Adriano and never intended to become involved with him.  I don’t think that Sophie feels worthy of being loved.  Long story short, she has a survivor syndrome, thinking that it’s her fault her sister died.  Thus, she throws herself into her work, looking for a way to give her life meaning in the eyes of her family – especially her father, who believes that she shouldn’t be traipsing around the world on dangerous archeological digs.
     Adriano had been exiled in a political move by Gabriel (see Mercy review!), due to his involvement in the destruction of a ‘mutant’ safe-house prior to his coronation.  In an effort to ‘win’ his way back into the good graces of the royal couple, and allow him to rejoin the Yaguara community.  Unfortunately, Adriano is a bit of a free agent, and has concocted a plan to deliver an artifact to the king.  One that would secure the continued secrecy of their people.  Alas, Adriano and his bad jaguar shifter self doesn’t feel worthy to be involved with Sophie, and doesn’t really believe he’s worthy to return to his people.  Adriano goes through a series of self-redemptive acts, and the majority of them have to do with Sophie and the basal instinct to mark and protect her.
     The big external conflict was with regard to the mercenaries that came to retrieve the relic.  This is where the idea of Sophie and Adriano as a couple begins to work for me.  While they’re trapped, forced to retrieve the artifact, we learn a lot about both both Adriano and Sophie as people. The compulsion to survive and be together drove the end of the story for me.
     I really enjoyed both Mercy and Redemption.  Next up:  Rebellion, the newest title in the Lost City Shifters series.  Sooo glad I get another shifter fix!
VampBards Rating:
Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)
 
Purchase Info:
Mercy (Book 1)
Redemption (Book 2)

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