Berkley Sensation, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-23150-0
Fantasy Romance, 2009
Shiloh Walker’s Hunter’s Need can stand alone quite well, I think, because the plot is pretty self contained without many references to events in previous The Hunters books. But if you are expecting some high action urban fantasy romp, maybe you should adjust your expectations a little. The author was on a romantic suspense roll in her previous books, and she continues exploring possibilities in that direction in this one.
Analise Morell is a psychic while Duke Lawson is a natural shifter whose other form is a cougar. To say that they have issues is an understatement in itself. In the past, Ana was a reluctant minion of a psychotic vampire named Cat, and she used Duke’s lust for her to lead him into a torture session that he naturally didn’t enjoy one bit. But that was in the past – Ana is now free from Cat, but her issues linger, as do Duke’s.
In Hunter’s Need, they have a reunion that culminates with him helping her solve a murder that took place a while back. Ana doesn’t believe that the suspect, a man considered the local nutcase because he talks aloud to the dead woman, is guilty of the murder. You’d think a psychic will be able to crack this case in no time, right? Alas, Ana’s psychic abilities are mostly defensive in nature, with her only half-way offensive ability being her skill to blunt someone else’s psychic abilities. And even then, she doesn’t know how to control her abilities well.
Therefore, Ana has many moments where she’s literally wringing her hands in helpless dismay. A part me suspects that her helplessness is a self-fulfilling prophecy, because Ana can only moan that she’s useless for so long before she starts to believe that. Still, by the end she does become a little stronger. If you do not like weak heroines who like to play the martyr, you should exercise some patience with Ana. She may be psychic, but she’s also quite pathetic. Duke on the other hand is a disappointingly underwritten character compared to the other male Hunters the author had created in previous books. He’s randy and he see-saws between wanting to forgive and wanting to behave like a petty child toward Ana, but that’s about it for Duke.
The disappointing hero aside, I’m also disappointed by the way the story sags in its middle. The story starts out very intriguing as the author deftly builds up the suspense and momentum in the mystery subplot, but all this deflates when Duke joins Ana in Alaska, because what commences are sex scenes. To be honest, I find the mystery plot far more interesting than the romance, so I become very impatient for these two to clean up and remember that they have a case to solve. Alas, after all that boinking, the story hurtles into an abrupt confrontation with the actual killer, a confrontation that is brought about by our main characters being in the right place at the right time. To be fair, the build-up has been hinting at this person being the killer, but still, the pay-off would have been more rewarding if the heroine had worked harder to discover this killer’s identity and been in more control during the denouement.
As I’ve mentioned, the build-up in the first few chapters of this book is very good, which means that Ms Walker hasn’t lost her touch. It is therefore unfortunate that the story seems to have lost its way halfway while trying to deliver the steamy scenes. Hunter’s Need never really manages to recover the momentum it has lost, making this a disappointing read compared to the previous entries in this series.