I'm currently writing a PNR shifter serial and wanted to check out the competition. I spent the weekend reviewing some Amazon Bestsellers in the shifter world. Here's my takeaway.
Three things make billionaire Jim Halcyon's to-do list: women, work...and more women. It's a perfect agenda for a rich shifter who has no problem letting his inner grizzly out to play. From the bright lights of Vegas, to the sophisticated action of New York--he's got the money and the power to do anything he wants.
Anything, except resist the lure of Lady Luck, an ancient copper coin he gambles yearly to possess. Jim is determined to regain control of the pretty penny, and damn if he'll let any bit of eye candy distract him from his goal. Not even the mesmerizing woman in the middle of the casino floor with the shimmering hair and enormous green eyes.
With a life-changing move ahead of her, Lillie's finagled a temporary layover en route to her future. She's got five days to soak in new experiences, and while Vegas is too big and shiny and loud for her shy bear self, she's eager to do this up right. It's the last chance she's got to let her hair down.
Until his challenge begins, Jim is more than willing to oblige Lillie's wish for a final fling. Only Lady Luck has some twists of fate planned for them both...
The hero's setup was very interesting with the winning of the coin mentioned in the title. That drew me right into this book, but then we walk away from that bit of intrigue for the romance. Unfortunately, I experienced no connection to the heroine. I had no clue to her goals or motivations for a long time. Her dual shyness and promiscuity confused me. Her bear was shy, her human was skittish, but she was ready for sex with the hero in a heartbeat. I really needed that connection to believe the love story, which of course takes center stage in a romance, and it just wasn't present for me.
Bodyguard by Jennifer Ashley
Elizabeth Chapman is saved from an armed robber by a giant Kodiak bear who shifts into a large, well-muscled, and fully naked human male. But when it's revealed that the robber is the brother of a dangerous criminal, Elizabeth finds herself the target of a vendetta.
Ronan, the Bear Shifter, takes her to Shiftertown for safety, where Elizabeth learns that the mateless Ronan, alone in the world, takes care of Shifters who have also been left on their own. Having grown up in foster care, Elizabeth can only admire how protective Ronan is.
But Ronan will only let Elizabeth leave the confines of Shiftertown if he becomes her 24/7 bodyguard. Elizabeth chafes at her restriction, but agrees. The trouble is, the sassy human Elizabeth is triggering Ronan's long-buried need to find himself a mate.
I liked the world building with shifters living in Shifter Towns and fitted with Collars made by the fae to keep them under control. But I didn't take to either hero or heroine.
Claimed by the Alphas by Viola Rivard
For Mila Foster, the idea of becoming an alpha wolf’s mate is so tantalizing that she is willing to leave her human life behind to join the Lazarus pack. Their alpha, the handsome and sensual Asch, is more than she could have ever hoped for, and Mila is beyond ready to surrender herself to him—until she finds out that the Lazarus pack has a second alpha, the dominant and primitive Caim.
Caim’s wolf lurks very close to the surface. He likes the lean and taut females of his own kind, women who can handle the aggressive mating he enjoys. He has no interest in Mila, that is, until he gets his hands on her lush curves.
The plotting was excellent. The POVs short, to the point, moved the story and kept the pages turning. At no point did the world building overwhelm. Rivard gave enough to give readers a firm footing. The heroine was likeable; the two alphas were strong with very different personalities. Her dilemma at the end, which is as close as you can get to a cliffhanger without hanging off a cliff, is intriguing. And it worked. I bought the next installment immediately after the last page!
Put the character goal and motivation up front.
Build the world through action not inner monologue or backstory.
Introduce conflict or complications early.
Sexual tension is great early, but consistency is even better.