Solange Sangria is a werejaguar. In fact, she is the Princess of werejaguars. But thanks to her father, who believes only in strength, the werejaguar males have almost declared war on the females, keeping them imprisoned and mating with them only to produce children. After a certain point, the men descend on the children, trying to force them to shift shape. If they can, they are kept in the clan. If they cannot, the children are killed and discarded.
Solange hates her father for what he is doing to the Werejaguars as a whole, and has spent her entire life fighting him. But now, something new has entered the equation. No, not something, someone.
His name is Dominic Dragonseeker, and he has lived without color for hundreds of years. But he is a Dragonseeker, and they do not go quietly into the night or become a vampire. Except that Dominic is trying to infiltrate the vampires who are running a special operation in the jungles. So he has allowed himself to be infested with a set of microbes that only vampires are prey to, and kill them to have himself go out in a blaze of glory and in a way that is useful to his people.
Until he catches sight of Solange as she pulls herself from a river. Solange has been yanking her father's tail for his mistreatment of her and her family. He doesn't know that she is his daughter, because he thinks she died long ago with the rest of her family. As it is, her mother is still imprisoned in his compound, and she seeks to free her mother, but because of the number of male werejaguars guarding the compound, she has never been able to infiltrate it.
Now, Solange, who has lived most of her life alone and on the run from the male werejaguars and her father's men, will have to deal with Dominic, who she has long thought was a fantasy in her mind. Dominic, too, thinks Solange was just a fantasy of his perfect mate. But she isn't used to living with anyone, so how can she be the kind of mate that Dominic wants, but even more, the kind of mate that Dominic deserves?
Dominic, too, is aware that he is damaged goods, and while Solange struggles with feeling helpless and broken in the face of Dominic's love, and the feeling that she will never be good enough for him, Dominic realizes that he can no longer go through with his plan to die disrupting and destroying the vampire convocation. He must live for Solange. But with the worst and strongest vampires in the world attending this meeting, with the intent to kill off Dominic and his fellow Carpathians, can he keep himself from drinking her blood, because her blood is the only thing that can cure the parasite infestation living inside him. But how long can he keep from drinking her blood as the urge to increase their connection grows?
I liked this book, although it did feel like something of a return to her earlier books like Dark Hunger. Solange was a character in Dark Hunger, and we got to see her then as a wounded warrior- someone who was very mistrusting of Carpathians, who was fighting a war against the male Werejaguars and who didn't want or need the help of the Carpathians. And yet, she seems to be doing it alone when in Dark Hunger she was being helped by her sister, Juliette. And it bothered me that Juliette and her life-mate, Riordan, seem to have done nothing for the Werejaguars in the meantime. That has all fallen to Solange.
Solange was a bit of a disappointment. She seems strong on the outside, but inside, she feels weak and unhappy. Despite her having contact through her fantasies with Dominic. she goes from a strong character to a creampuff when it comes to her emotions. She's fairly consistently bemoaning the fact that she can't be the kind of lifemate that Dominic deserves- she must be as strong and competent as he is. And that got on my nerves after a while, to be honest. It's like everything she did meant nothing- she couldn't take pride in her accomplishments because she didn't fit what she thought he wanted.
But aside from those concerns, I mostly enjoyed this book. It did feel a bit strange, coming back to the South American jungle after so long a time away from it. It did remind me quite a bit of the book Dark Hunger, and why don't Juliette, Riordan, Solange and Dominic team up to take out the bad male werejaguars? Surely, they are powerful enough to do so? Aside from the fact that I loved the ending, which is different from all the others in the Carpathians books, this was a pretty solid book, and a great read. Recommended.