Queen of Tarts Review
of Hard Mated by Jennifer Ashley
I read Jennifer Ashley’s short story Hard Mated (full synopsis after review) the day it came out. I really adore her Shifter’s Unbound series and this was a delicious treat to help tide me over until the next full length novel Mate Claimed comes out October 2nd. *happy dance*
In Jennifer’s Shifter’s Unbound world building the shifters have “come out” to the humans and live separated from the population in special enclaves, or reservations. They are forced to wear collars that are meant to keep their violence in check. The hero of Hard Mated is Spike (side note, lol I LOVE that name, I’m a Buffy and Spike fan) ok, back on track… Spike is a jaguar shifter and the holds the title of Tracker for the Austin Pack. He likes to blow off steam by fighting in the Shifter Fight Club. After a successful bout with a bear shifter a human woman brings him a water bottle and introduces herself. He thinks she’s very brave and attractive and is stunned when Myka asks him to come to the hospital with her because a woman he’d had a one night stand with five years ago wants to see him. The woman, Jillian, is dying from cancer but she wanted him to know they had a child. Spike is in shock. He’s dealing with the grief from the knowledge that the beautiful, vibrant woman he’d known is at death’s door and the joy that he has a cub. I loved his reaction to his son Jordan. He’s awed and humbled that the beautiful little child is his to care for. Now he has something is his life besides his work. He takes Jordan to Shiftertown to his home with his grandmother.