For review of all books in this series: Go here
Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: Shape-shifting Leopards, Mobsters and Love - A weird combination right? Well, it's worth reading on those lazy days or to bring you out of any kind of dull mood.
Wild Fire is the fourth book in the Leopard People by Christine Feehan published in April of 2010. The plot revolves around Connor Vega – a shape-shifting leopard living in the Borneo Forests – and Isabeau Chandler – another Borneo shifter out on vengeance.
The entire Leopard People Series focuses on humans who have ability of shape-shifting to leopards. Each plot covers one couple that are destined to be mated in this lifetime just like so many lifetimes in the past. And surrounding this couple the plot expands on this species of leopard shape-shifters, their advantages as being so, their perils and how their lives move along in this 21st century. All of the plots are either set in Borneo Rain Forest - coast of South East Asia - and Louisiana in USA or eventually lead there. These leopards come from very hard and cruel lairs, but they come out on their own, find their mate, infiltrate the mobs and acquire the territories taking over them.
Connor Vega is called on to a dangerous mission in the Panama rain forests, his homeland. Even though he is a lethal killer among the shape-shifter tribes, he is heaved down and marked by the betrayal he had done to his mate. Isabeau Chandler. However, when their paths cross and Isabeau is out to take her vengeance against Connor, little do they know that they are falling trap into a plot that is larger than this betrayal between them. A trap that is filled with more betrayals and ultimate sacrifices. How both Connor and Isabeau traverse these treacherous path, find each other and fight the hidden enemy is what Christine weaves into the rest of the book.
With this plot, we get to see more action – packed scenes with the male leopard people that we already got introduced in the first three books – Rio Santana, Elijah Lospostos - along with new shifters, Felipe and Leonardo Gomez Santos. I am glad to see more of Elijah in this book, he keeps increasing my interest in him. Can’t wait to read his story soon. Also I am getting more and more intrigued by Drake Donovan too - leader of this rat pack of lethal shifters, what with him injured and healing away in USA at Jake Bannaconni's estate. He is working his way along-side Elijah into my heart.
I like the plot-line that Christine Feehan is taking along us especially with regards to the fact that the female leopard-shifters have choice to take whom they (the human and leopard together) want as their mate. However, there is that one everywhere who would break the rule, take advantage of it and force a female to take someone as a mate even though that male isn’t true mate to her. And the suffering that the female shifter goes through in the process is so cruel and horrendous. It aches and tugs at my heart whenever I read those scenes that Christine plays out.
Isabaeu and Connor are once again paired perfectly, with their shared past of betrayal and vengeance, it wouldn’t be hard for them to get attracted to each other. However their characters are also complementary to each other – Connor’s lethal beast to Isabeau’s wild yet thoughtful leopard. Connor being the most lethal beast, one would think the antagonist would be easily over-powered. However, this is where Christine had smartly twisted the plot. She not only created the antagonist as an equal to Connor in power, but also in beauty and mind. The only difference Christine adds in is the way the antagonist is cruel in his thoughts and ways as opposed to Connor who is lethal but true to his morals and codes. If Christine had the villain look ugly perhaps it would be easy for the heroine Isabeau to choose Connor if given a choice, but adding the charm, mind and a bit of softness to the antagonist, she pitted both of them against each other as well as made it tough for Isabeau too. Even though she knew Connor was her mate, she could easily have fallen for the antagonist if not for his nature.
I remember reading a similar kind of concept in Nora Roberts book Enchanted published in October of 1999. Nora mentions in it where the heroine Rowan comments that the villain should be handsome and equal in looks as the hero so the heroine should pick her hero not just based on looks but based on what is hidden beneath the looks. It makes so perfect sense.
Christine again points out that leopard shifters mate for nine life-cycles similar to “cat has nine lives” concept. Suits perfectly since leopards are also cats. Also, I am still waiting to see how she goes from shifters saving the rain forests by these guardians to being part of mobster families, although we see a few hints in the past books on the path she would be taking eventually.
Again, Christine brings up some of the major social evils in this plot – deforestation along with misusing the trust the forest tribes put in the outsiders, kidnapping and slavery. Something media doesn’t highlight but it is happening everywhere for real. I sincerely hope there are real people like these shifters who are true guardians of the rain forests and fight these crimes, keeping the rain forests alive.
Last but not least, some of the language that Christine uses almost makes me feel that the women are slave to their men in their sensual needs. Sentences like “He’d whispered instructions, and she had obeyed, shivering with need….” Makes me wonder if in for real would women feel so with their men. Words like “obey”, “allow”, etc. make me cringe. However, when I read the entire erotic episode they make a lot of sense. Just by themselves they are off-note. And this would be my opinion of all of her books in this regards, a bitter-sweet pill to swallow if I must say.
Another successful book I would say in the series by Christine Feehan. Definite pick if you are into paranormal stuff that includes romance, love and saving the world.
1) Plot Reveals:
a. Christine mentions a famous designer named Ruth Ann Gobel who is a leopard shifter and also lives in the Panama rain forests. I was wondering if there was someone for real with her name, but couldn’t find any. Guess she is a fictional person then. :)
2) Sub Plots:
a. Christine introduces us to her future heroes of this series who are yet to be mated as of this book:
i. Drake Donovan – hurt during a mission and now healing while living on Jake’s land in Texas, USA.
ii. Joshua Tregre – I have read his story in the 10th book Leopard’s Blood. My review of the book here.
iii. Shilo – a female Leopard being protected by the leopard people in Borneo Forest.
iv. Elijah Lospostos – Rachael’s brother.
v. Felipe and Leonardo Gomez Santos – brothers from Brazilian rain forests.
vi. Jeremiah Wheating – a cub shifter who accidentally joins this group. Will there be more to him in a future plot is something we have to wait and see from Christine.
vii. Evan and Jerico - security / ranch hands all rolled into one at Jake’s property
viii. Mateo – Connor’s young step-brother
ix. Dr. Abel Winters and his wife Mary Winters – Leopard Doctors who helpthe leopard shifters when in need.
b. Christine also introduces a few non-leopard people as the plots proceed, but a few stand-out making me wonder if she would make them shifters in future plots:
i. Susan Hindman, Senator Hindman’s daughter, was introduced in Burning Wild (My review of that book here). Christine makes her character as brilliant, sharp and fast-learner at a very young age. Will Christine make her a shape-shifter in a future plot is something one has to wait and see but all signs point towards that for me.