Publish Date: Out Now
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
Eric Warden knows that half-Shifter wildcat Iona is passing for human, living without a Collar in the human world. He also knows that if she does not acknowledge her Shifter nature and her mating hunger, it could kill her. Iona finds the mysterious and dangerous Eric, a wildcat and leader of his Shiftertown, haunting her dreams, but she vows never to “come out” and take the Collar, fearing backlash against her mother and sister for hiding the fact that she’s Shifter. But Eric is a compelling Shifter male, and Iona’s hunger calls to him.
This blurb came from the author’s website here.
I have been a huge fan of Ashley’s shifter series since she released the first one several years ago. I was extremely excited when Berkley re-released the first book Pride Mates and supported the series. Mate Claimed is the fourth novel in a series that also contains three novellas. I recommend that you start the series with at least Wild Cat, book 3, which introduces Eric and Iona if you decide not to start with Pride Mates because several events in this book feed off of earlier ones.
Since Eric discovered Iona as a half-Shifter who was passing for human he has paid her a lot of attention. Some of it is because she is approaching her mating hunger and doesn’t have Shifter knowledge or support to get through that time and some of it is that he finds her very attractive. Iona as an unmated Shifter in mating hunger would bring out the animal in all of the male shifters who smelled her thus ruining any chance she had of living a “normal” life. Eric is trying to coax Iona to move to Shiftertown so he can help her with both making it through her mating hunger and dealing with the secondary effects of living as an undocumented Shifter. Iona is resisting all of his efforts because she doesn’t want to give up her freedom or cause any issues for her family because they should have reported her. Then fate in the guise of a lupine shifter, corrupt public official, and some mad scientists step in.
Poor Eric, his life hasn’t been exactly calm lately. He had to deal with some seriously world-altering views during the early stages of his sister’s relationship with her human husband. Then he spotted Iona and he couldn’t get her out of his mind. As this book begins Eric is also having to deal with a problem caused by humans. They decided to close one of the Shiftertowns in another part of Nevada and move those occupants, a different species complete with their own Shiftertown leader, Graham, into Eric’s town. The lupine leader isn’t willing to meekly take a position in the hierarchy below Eric so he is continuously positioning himself to challenge Eric for the position of leader. Throughout it all he continued to give Iona as much freedom and time as he could without pushing a mating on her. Even after Graham threatened to interfere with Iona’s unmated status and Eric claimed her as his mate he still let he make her own choices about taking the next steps. I adored how protective he was and yet how he would let people make their own decisions about life. He also truly wanted the best for the people of Shiftertown and that included the lupines. I also thought that Eric deserved some happiness after years of being without his first mate.
Iona was a very strong woman. She had learned enough self control over the years to control her shifter half and pass as human. When her cat really needed to run she would head out into the desert and run until the need faded. She wasn’t going to jeopardize the construction company that she ran with her Mother and sister nor was she going to risk her Mother going to jail for harboring an unregistered shifter. It didn’t matter how attractive she found Eric she wasn’t going to Shiftertown. Of course that changed after Eric claimed her as his mate. I absolutely loved that she used shifter law to her advantage and handled a rather sticky situation involving Graham and Eric, which neatly diffused some of Graham’s belligerence. She was such a fun character to read between her fight, independence and intelligence that I found myself looking forward to the next thing she was going to do or say.
Mate Claimed also had some very interesting aspects to the world building, which really make the plot thicken. I am looking forward to seeing what comes of the threads Ashley planted that I think I spotted in future books. I enjoyed the interaction between Eric and Iona as well as seeing familiar old characters and meeting some new ones. The overall danger to the Shifters was also deftly handled without overtaking the romance or the inter-shifter relationships as the lupines and felines tried to settle into their new co-existence. There is a lovely excerpt of the next book at the very end, which just increased my eagerness for it.
I give Mate Claimed a B