by Jorrie Spencer, paranormal (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-60504-221-8

Puma is a gripping story full of unexpected surprises. I'm not sure whether I buy the romantic elements of the story, but this is a pretty good read all things considered.

Our puma shapeshifer heroine Callie makes her entrance with style, too dumb for words style. She's some kind of enforcer that helps take down homicidal shifters, only in her latest job she decides that a killer with six victims under his belt looks young enough to be "saved" so she decides to break protocol and ends up getting her throat slashed. After that dramatic show of stupidity, she finds herself fired. Without nothing else to do and craving companionship, she decides to seek out her foster sister only to find her and everyone else in that community, including our hero Dev Matthews, apparently under the control of a strange cult-leader type of figure.

Puma is a nice change from the usual "alpha, mate, hormones, smelly genitals" paranormal romances out there because this one has a genuinely gripping paranormal mystery subplot to go with it. The story is well-paced and the build-up towards the climax is done very nicely indeed. It's hard for me to say more without giving away things, so let me just say that I have a good time with this story.

I never could warm up to the main characters though. My first impression of Callie is not good given that she's pulling a very stupid stunt and she never succeeds in winning me over in this story. Dev is more like a keg in the suspense machine rather than a romance hero in his right. Both characters function very well in the context of the mystery and suspense in this story, but they never stand out as romantic leads.

Then again, it is hard for a story to have everything, so in this case, I'm happy enough that the story in Puma is good enough to keep me reading.

Rating: 81

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