Lure of the Jaguar is N.J. Walters’ most recent book in the Hades Carnival series. The curse broken, the Warriors are free to settle in with their mates and begin to enjoy the modern world.
All but Stavros, the jaguar. He knows he has to be alone for the rest of his life, because any human woman he might show interest in could still draw Hades’ attention and endanger her life. Stavros has never felt the connection to anyone he has yet met, so leaving the city to live in the Louisiana swamp as the big cat is no hardship for him. Photographer Toni Richards is stalking the wildlife in the swamp, looking for unique opportunities to photograph, and she can sit for hours waiting for the perfect shot. When Stavros encounters her, something draws him to her, and he begins to understand the intensity his fellow Warriors felt as they met their mates. When three men threaten Toni in the swamp by her cabin, she is rescued by a magnificent jaguar, one that suddenly becomes the man she met earlier in the swamp, Stavros. He stops the men, and takes Toni to his cabin to try and foil Hades’ plot to take Toni’s soul and torture it for eternity. Stavros is willing to do whatever it takes to stop Hades, and protect Toni from the evil God. Can Toni come to accept what Stavros does? Will Stavros be able to act in time, or will Hades get this last chance at harming one of the Warriors?
I like this world, slightly dark but always optimistic that good will triumph over evil in the end. The characters are well defined and well matched, and I like that there is a gathering of all the previous characters to put some closure to this series. Now that Ms. Walters has given each of the immortal warriors their own HEA, I look forward to settling back and enjoying these in order again and again. It is fun to see where she interwove bits from each of the prior books into this, like Toni reading the graphic book by the earlier character.
Toni Richards is strong, intelligent and extremely independent. She takes care of herself, and doesn’t need a man to help her. But when three men try to kidnap her, and she discovers things are more complicated than they appear, she is smart enough to realize she is in over her head. She feels an instant attraction to Stavros, and is interested in seeing where it could go. I liked that Toni was willing to explore the feelings between them, and I liked her strength of character at not backing off as Stavros told her about Hades and the whole curse and such. I liked that she saw the unbelievable, and still listened before making any irreversible decisions.
Stavros, the Jaguar, is quiet, intense, and determined not to endanger any woman by becoming involved. He is determined to live alone, never knowing love, rather than doom a woman to the tortures of Hades. When he comes across Toni in the isolation of the swamp, he tries to stay away, but he just can’t stay away. When she is endangered, he knows it is up to him to keep her safe. I liked watching as Stavros found that one perfect woman for him, and enjoyed watching as these two danced around each other trying not to become involved. Watching Stavros fall for Toni was fun, and seeing his patience as she made her decision was enchanting.
There are appearances from the other Warriors and their mates, and an intriguing scene or two between Hades and Persephone, scenes that hint at the relationship these two once shared and what it must have been like. There are some scorching hot love scenes, and some tender and passionate moments as Stavros and Toni journey to their happy ever after. I would like to have seen on last visit from The Lady of the Beasts, but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of this book or of the series. I would recommend this one to those who like shifters and independent women, and I would suggest that these seven books be read in order for the best enjoyment.
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