Angelique had no idea her black panther tattoo would force her to abandon the love of her life—Connor O’Reilly—but she’s determined to keep him safe no matter how much it hurts. Her tattoo doubles as her feline familiar: loving, protective, dangerous, and with a life of its own. It’s also her deepest secret and draws enemies who desire its power for themselves.
Connor has no idea why Angelique left him, but he’s determined to win her back. As a werewolf, he has secrets of his own. Now his alpha is ready to force him to pair with an ex-girlfriend he can’t stand unless he can find Angelique and claim her as his mate. But even as their secrets threaten to keep them apart, hidden enemies seek to destroy their chance at love forever.
I was first attracted to this book because I like the story concept of a tattoo also acting as a familiar that has a life of its own. In fact, this ended up being my favorite part of the story. I really liked the way the tattoo would move around on Angelique’s body. How she could feel the fur brush against her or how the black leopard, Kira, would nuzzle her for comfort or lash out to protect her. Then at times the black leopard tattoo could actually come to life and separate itself from Angelique to become an actual leopard. All of that was pretty damn cool. But as much as I liked this aspect of the story, it also brought up a lot of questions for me. Where did the tattoo come from? Why does she have it? What is the actual purpose of it? What exactly is Angelique? If Kira is her familiar, is she some kind of witch? What is the deal with the hunter (druid) that comes after her? (And don’t get me started on the druid…just leads to more questions.) ...
The story actually starts out after Connor and Angelique initially meet, start a relationship, Angelique leaves him, and Connor has a fling with Monica. This all happens off-screen before the story begins. Monica is a she-wolf in Connor’s pack who has her sights set on Connor and plans to be his mate whether Connor wants it or not. Connor realizes Angelique is the only one for him and is determined to get her back before the deadline that his Alpha sets for him. If he can’t get her back within a year, then the Alpha will choose his mate.
Because the story starts after Connor and Angelique initially meet and break up, I found it hard to feel a connection between them. The reader misses all that relationship building and you just have to accept they have feelings for one another. There were two smexy scenes but they came across as lukewarm to me, which is probably due to the lack of connection I felt between the characters. Also, the second scene at the end of the book surprised me a little due to what happens to Angelique the day before at the hands of the druid who was hunting her. It basically simulates the position she was in while being tortured by the druid the previous day. It seemed a little odd to me that neither character would have a problem with that, especially Angelique.
These were two of the bigger issues for me, but there were other aspects of the story that kept me asking questions throughout and some areas that I felt could have used more exploration. There were also a couple of small editing quirks like when Angelique is described as standing up when she was already standing.
Though the story overall was okay and the writing style was fine for me, the questions around Angelique and her tattoo, and also the missing details about the beginning of their relationship, left me feeling that I was missing a lot and led me to ask questions about that and other things throughout the story. I would say this novella was enjoyable enough and worth my time to read but I needed more connection to the characters and more answers to my questions.
This novella appears to be the first in a series. I don’t know if the future books will also be novella length or will be novels, but I might be willing to read the next book to see if any of my questions are answered (though I think more should have been explained in this one) and if the next story feels more complete. Usually at the end of a series book there are hints about the direction the next book will take and who the story may be about. I have no clue after finishing this one what might be coming up next. I’m not sure if it will continue with Angelique and Connor or move on to another set of main characters. I do think the story line about the druid may continue since he gets away to fight another day. Am I right? I guess there is only one way to find out. : )
Heat Level: Steamy (2 scenes)
Word Count: 24,821 (Novella)
Print Length: 112 pgs
Epub Length: 76 pgs (story text ends on pg 71)
Kindle Locations: 1205 (story text ends at 95%)