3.75 stars rounded upGuardian’s Mate
is the latest installment of Jennifer Ashley’s Shifters Unbound
series that has spanned for nine novels and several novellas for the past six years. Yes, there are a LOT of them *lol*.
This time, the focus is on Zander, the polar bear healer (whom everyone claims is insane, by the way) who was first introduced in the novella Wild Things
, and Rae, a young wolf shifter who is just chosen to be the first female Guardian. Zander is tasked with training Rae how to fight with the Guardian sword because other shifters think she’s a fake considering the 1300 years there has never been a female Guardian. Zander lives alone all the way in Alaska, so Rae’s father think he’s the right choice.
Well, let me get things I disliked out of the way first. I found the second half of the book — and I use the term ‘second half’ loosely — to be rather boring. In this part, Rae and Zander are back in Rae’s Shiftertown and have to deal with a couple of things: find a way to fix the broken Guardian sword, as well as help search for feral shifters that have gone rogue. I felt like these issues were dragging. I kept wondering where the plot was actually going — especially in relation the whole set-up with the Faeries (and what they have been up to).
In addition, we also had the romance sneaking in, since Rae and Zander discovered their mate bond. It was a little muddy by then … although it went back on track after a while, and we get a little update about what the Faes are up to. Also, considering Zander’s main task was to train Rae … there wasn’t enough training happening in this book, IMHO. Things take a detour quite fast in the beginning, and as much as I liked how Rae progressed, I felt like that plot became a waste.
Other than that, I quite enjoyed it. The first half most especially — the bickering between Rae and Zander was entertaining! Rae loves her adopted family, her pack, and to be around them. So being dumped with a crazy grumpy solitary polar bear in ALASKA who has a pet SNAKE, is totally not her idea of fun.
I thought Rae was rather whiny at first. I wanted her to step up and to own her role as Guardian. But then I realized that Rae was a young shifter, pretty much a cub. She never leaves her family, never goes out of Montana. So her attitude was quite acceptable. Besides, Rae quickly shows that she could kick some asses.
And I loved Zander!! What can I say? That polar bear intrigued me from his very first appearance. I loved the fact that despite Zander claiming to be solitary, he actually has a vast array of network. Zander is the kind of person who knows people who knows people, you know? It was AMUSING to read how Rae became frustrated that Zander seemed to be able to drop a name out of a hat whenever they need someone to do something…
Plus the first half had a sense of adventure! We had bar fights, boat chase in a fog, and heck, even a whirlpool that sucked water into nothing. It was a different kind of situation from previous books. I think this is the first time the adventure happens in water, not on another land / Shiftertown.
Bottom line, I definitely liked this better than the previous novel (Kendrick’s story) or novellas (Broderick’s and Mason’s) although still not as much as I liked Tiger’s and Graham’s novels.A Guest Review for The Blogger GirlsThe ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.