Review – Feral Heat (Shifters Unbound #5.5) by Jennifer Ashley

Feral Heat cover image

Publisher: Intermix
Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Jace Warden is sent to the Shiftertown in Austin to find a way to free all Shifters from their Collars. But pulling off the Collars can cause Shifters to go mad or kill them outright.

In Austin, Jace meets Deni Rowe, a wolf Shifter with troubles of her own—she was deliberately run down in the road, and while her body has healed, she still has episodes of total memory loss during which she retreats into her pure animal self.

Jace has never met anyone like Deni. Courageous and beautiful, she volunteers to help him test the Collar removal. And as Deni and Jace work together, they feel the mate bond begin. But can Jace help Deni believe she can heal enough to be anyone’s true mate?
This blurb came from Goodreads.

Ashley’s Shifters Unbound series has fascinated me since the very first installment. As the series has progressed, she has brought in new species, mad scientists, unscrupulous humans, discrimination, hate crimes, and a determination to live as equals. Some of the shifters discovered a method to control or at least delay the painful punishment Collars inflict whenever a Shifter became aggressive and violent. They spread that knowledge to a few trusted allies in other Shiftertowns with the hope of increasing their survival rates.

As more Shifters learned how to apply some control to the Collars, they started trying to discover a way to remove or disconnect the Collars from their nervous system. Attempting to remove a Collar required a volunteer test subject strong enough to endure pain, not critical to the survival of a Shiftertown if something went wrong, but valuable enough to know what was at stake so Jace volunteered. His introduction to Austin’s Shiftertown was a fight, a female wolfshifter who joined in, and a police raid.

Deni was struggling. She had physically recovered from a vicious attack but she had issues keeping her human mind and control attached to her wolf instincts. Tense situations especially those filled with aggression and adrenaline triggered her drive to fight so she tended to stay away from most Shifter gatherings. As a result of her interference in Jace’s fight, Deni found herself much closer to a strange male Shifter than she ever expected. I enjoyed Deni and Jace’s interactions as they kept being thrown in close proximity. As much fun as their growing sexual attraction I thought the way Jace and Deni complimented each other was very moving. Over the period of Jace’s visit, Deni learned her presence and support helped Jace maintain his control as others tried to painstakenly remove his Collar. She also had the ability to soothe him through his Collar’s punishment. Deni also learned that Jace could help her maintain control and enjoy life as a Shifter without fearing she would revert to attacking at the slightest provocation.

In addition to the romance between Deni and Jace, Ashley also moved the general world plot along. Some very interesting developments were discovered regarding the Collars and potential removal techniques. She also brought out the existence of a new threat against the Shifters and their attempts to keep humans away from the Shiftertowns. I am very curious to see how the potential removal techniques are actually going to work, how the Shifters will get the needed materials, and how they will manage to control the side effects of removing the Collars.

This was an interesting novella but not one of my favorites. I missed Ashley’s earlier focus on the relationship development and allowing the reader to get to know her characters. Unfortunately I noticed the same thing in her past two novellas so I am starting to think this series works better in the novel format given her particular writing style. I am looking forward to seeing a return in her upcoming novel Wild Wolf of what made me enjoy this series initially.

I give Feral Heat a B-/C+

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