Review of Sullivan (Leopard’s Spots #7) by Bailey Bradford

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Rating: 2.5 stars

Sullivan Leopards Spots 7Sullivan “Sully” Ward is heading off to college, full of excitement and ready to try new things, a true small town boy come to the big city.  Sully lands in Texas, San Antonia to be exact, ready for life as a student at UTSA and to see what life in San Antonio will hold for a young inexperienced leopard  shifter.  And it isn’t long before he runs into trouble in the wrong side of town and ends up saving a young hustler named Mando.  Mando is under age , just another teenager thrown away because his parents didn’t want a gay son.  Sully takes him into the awful apartment he rented online, feeds him as Mando reminds him of his younger brother and decides now Mando has a home with him.

When he talks to his parents back home, his story stirs up concerns that Sully is in over his head so they contact Bobby Baker, the wolf shifter brother to Josiah, pack alpha and mate to Sully’s cousin.  Bobby and his pack live in San Antonio. All Bobby has to do is check to make sure  Sully is fine and that Mando isn’t a trouble maker.  But from the first meeting, it is clear the trouble is not from Mando but from the fact that Sully and Bobby are mates.  Sully is ignorant of the effect it has on the partners who have found their mates but Bobby isn’t.  He knows Sully is his mate and it scares him enough to send him running after a bout of intense sex, especially for a virgin like Sully.

To make matters worse, there is a psycho stalking Bobby’s pack and an arsonist loose setting fires in Bobby’s clubs. And they both appear to be targeting Bobby and anyone Bobby loves.  Bobby must come to grips with his destiny and accept Sully as his mate and soon.  Sully and Bobby have an arsonist to track and in a horrifying turn of events, an attack to revenge.

Out of the seven books of the Leopard’s Spots series, this is the worst by far.  Bradford is getting farther away from the unique elements of this series, that of the Leopard Shifter history, their interaction with the Amur Leopards, and the mystery of a group of people intent on drugging and experimenting on them.  All of that is not even mentioned here as we track back to the wolf shifters of Texas that are attached to the story via Josiah and Oscar (Leopard’s Spots #2).  But that is the least of the problems here.

Bobby Baker was introduced in the last book and he was an exciting, exasperating character.  I would have hoped that if Bradford was going to abandon the Amur Leopards, at least we would have a good book out of it.  But instead we get a book that is 5 percent promise, mostly because of the character of Mando, the vulnerable, underage hustler Sully has taken under his wing and his “brother like” relationship with Sully.  Those scenes were charming, endearing, funny and held out the promise that the rest of the book would be of a similar vein.  Not so as the remaining 95 percent focuses in on the mate relationship between Bobby and Sully.This turns out to be much less affecting as they  have little chemistry as a couple, and Bobby spends most of the book fighting his role as Sully’s mate.  His club is literally burning down around him,a person close to Sully is heinously attacked by the nutjob stalking Bobby, and the two of them are having ridiculous amounts of sex and paying no attention to anything else.  These two act in such an irrational manner that the reader’s frustrations almost exceed the amount of sex they are having.

Finally, most of the goodwill this book generates is destroyed in a grievous attack on a character we have come to adore.  Mostly because it seems superfluous to the rest of the action going on and the depth of emotional and physical destruction visited upon this person is really unnecessary. It really seems such a waste of characters that had such marvelous potential and a mess of a storyline that was resolved far too quickly for the buildup and really made little sense.

I will probably stick with this series because I can’t believe it can get much worse than this.  But like a TV columnist says in his intro, “I watch these shows so you don’t have to”.  I will just say I am reading these books so you don’t have to.  And trust my word,  you really don’t want to read Sullivan (Leopard’s Spots #7).

Levi (Leopards Spots #1)

Oscar (Leopards Spots #2) read my review here.

Timothy (Leopards Spots #3) read my review here

Isaiah (Leopards Spots #4) read my review here

Gilbert (Leopards Spots #5) read my review here

Esau (Leopards Spots #6)

Sullivan (Leopards Spots #7)

Review of Gregory’s Rebellion (Shifters’ Haven #6) by Lavinia Lewis

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Rating: 4.25 stars

Leopard shifter Gregory Hale has been sent by the supernatural council to pick up a young jaguar shifter in Las Vegas and bring him into Council headquarters as they have determined the young man’s loner status has made him a potential danger to the humans around him.  But Gregory has watched Hayden at a distance for days and everything about the young shifter shouts neglect and pain.  When Gregory finally contacts Hayden, he realizes that Hayden is his mate but there is no acknowledgement on Hayden’s part that the recognition is mutual.  Hayden is skinny to the point of starvation and his face is marred by a raw scar that stretches from eye to mouth on one side of his face, a scar that should have healed when Hayden shifts.  Hayden has come from a traumatized past, but he won’t confide in Gregory, not yet at least. More than ever, Gregory is determined not to let Hayden fall into the council’s hands and he pretends to his superiors that Hayden has slipped away from him, to their immediately displeasure.  Gregory is, in fact, taking Hayden to Kelan’s Crazy Horse Ranch knowing the Alpha will help him hide Hayden and keep him safe.

Gregory still has the corruption within the council to deal with and a new series of murders to investigate.  Someone is murdering the mates of council  members, as Gregory knows all too well. Now with a mate of his own to protect, Gregory needs to get to the real culprit behind the killings before its too late.

The Shifters’ Haven series is built around Wolf Creek, Texas and its pack of wolf shifters.  Wolf Creek is two thirds shifters in population, a situation that the human population is ignorant of as all shifters have worked hard to keep themselves hidden. Each book brings together a different mated pair with a continuous plot line of dissension among the Supernatural Council which is composed of shifters of all types, from hawk to cougar. From the first installment, you are made aware of the Council who governs all shifters with their rules and regulations and the possibility of corruption within that impacts Wolf Creek and beyond.  From book to book, each time a member of the Council intervenes or arrives on the scene, you become less assured as to who the “good guys” are.  Also each book widens the Wolf Creek pack with new family members and sometime new species of shifters are given haven.

Gregory’s Rebellion picks up right where Nate’s Deputy leaves off, with Gregory on his way to Las Vegas on council  business. Gregory is still heartbroken over the events that happened back in Wolf Creek and unsettled because the real leader behind the shifter problems and crimes has  not been fully identified, at least not with proof he can use.  There has been a really nice development of Gregory’s character from book to book, from his first appearance as a council member somewhat rigid in demeanor to the compassionate person he is here.  But my focus was on Hayden, who was kicked out of his home at the age of 16 by his parents for being gay, an all too real occurrence.  Hayden has suffered since being thrown out of his home and family and has done what he had to in order to survive on the streets.  He has no self confidence, he is all shame and humiliation, his trauma written across his face in a scar he refuses to heal as a measure of his torment and degradation.  When Gregory comes into his life, he has just arrived at a modicum of security, with a boss who regards him as more family than employee and a job he likes.  Now all of that is gone in an instant, disrupted by a stranger who tells him the council is after him and wants his trust.  Lewis does a beautiful job in conveying Hayden’s confusion and fear.  I became invested in Hayden from the very beginning and stayed so to the end.  You will too.

Also carrying over is the issue of corruption in the council and the fact that someone is murdering the mates of council members, but to what end? Gregory gets caught up in trying to deal with his new mated status as well as his investigation into the problems of being part of a council he no longer trusts or believes in.  Again, all very credible and in keeping with the persona of an honorable man trying to do what’s right when confronted with the reality behind the supernatural council.  Lewis’ wonderful way with location and characterization is in top form here. It is becoming a saga of Wolf Creek versus the old order of council rule, a storyline that has intrigued me since the start of the series.

Once more, I felt the ending rushed and not as satisfactory as it might have felt to have the villain meet his comeuppance. Had the story lasted a little longer and with a more detailed exposition, then the end would feel more complete given the buildup.  Perhaps Lewis is doing this intentionally to keep the thread going in the next book up, Pete’s Persuasion (Shifters’ Haven #7).  I hope so, for it’s an interesting part of all of their stories  and it doesn’t feel finished yet.  So I am waiting impatiently for October and the next in the series.  Pick up the first book, read them all and meet me here for No. 7.  See you then.

Once again Posh Gosh is giving us lush, gorgeous covers for the entire series. Beautiful branding and great design for each and every book.

Here are the Shifter Haven series in the order they were written and should be read in order to fully appreciate the characters, relationships and plots.

Luke’s Surprise (Shifters’ Haven #1) . Luke Morgan and Mark Malone’s story

Cody’s Revelation (Shifters’ Haven #2) – Cody Morgan and Stefan Drake’s story

Kelan’s Pursuit (Shifters’ Haven #3) – Kelan Morgan and Jake Bradfield’s story

Aaron’s Awakening (Shifters’ Haven #4) – Aaron Drake and Cary Lewis

Nate’s Deputy (Shifters’ Haven #5) – Nate and Jared. Read my review here.

Gregory’s Rebellion (Shifters’ Haven #6) – Gregory and Hayden

Pete’s Persuasion (Shifters’ Haven #7) coming in October 2012