Rare Breed: Leopards Unleashed Series Book 1 – Dina Haynes

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Steamy, suspenseful, action-packed, paranormal shifter romance

Blurb:

She was exiled at birth. He terrifies the other monsters. Can two outsider wereleopards overcome prejudice and find their own way to love?

Los Angeles. MacKenzie is a loner by necessity, not choice. Hiding from the intolerance of the shifter world by living among humans, she’s terrified when she accidentally kills her date and blows her cover. Not only does she have to elude the LAPD, she’s on the run from the most feared bounty hunter in the were community.

Ramone Hernandes sees his own struggles reflected in his prey’s captivating eyes. So after tracking her down, he abandons his snatch-and-grab mission and instead attempts to clear her name. And the more time he spends with the alluring outcast, the stronger his urge to claim her as his chosen mate.

Confused by her attraction to the beast sent to take her in, MacKenzie must weigh her precarious state as a fugitive against the calls of her heart. And although he’s willing to do anything to protect her, Ramone’s failure to do his job threatens both their lives.

With their enemies aligning against them, can they survive long enough to heal their wounded hearts?

Rare Breed, formerly published as Wereleper, is the first book in the spine-tingling Leopards Unleashed paranormal romance series. If you like tough heroines, steamy scenes, and unexpected twists, then you’ll adore Dina Haynes’s suspenseful saga.



This is a romance, but it takes a while to get there. This was good. I liked it a lot, but I don’t think I would want to re-read it, so 4 stars. I read it fairly quickly, but it did drag in some parts, possibly because I wanted to get to the romance already. The romance is more of an end game thing. It is more suspense and action than romance.

Dina Haynes has built a unique shifter world here and did very well with that world-building. I’ve read many shifter romances and always enjoy the tweaks authors make to the standard shifter lore out there. In this world:

  • Humans know about shifters and live in relative peace with them. There is prejudice and hate like racism in the real world.
  • Shifters live very long lives, seems like at least 150 years.
  • Shifters can fully shapeshift from human to their were-species. There are big cats (leopards, lions), wolves, and bears mentioned.
  • Shifters heal completely if they shift from one form to another.
  • Shifters can heal with their saliva. Mates “tend” to each other this way, creating a stronger bond.
  • I was confused about how two shifters become mates. Early on, it is said one male is always careful to pull out during sex because not doing so would tie the pair together for life. This is a common part of general shifter lore, usually accompanied by a bite, which is not part of the lore here. But later in this novel, someone does not pull out, and nothing happens immediately. Beyond that, we are also told that wereleopards don’t always mate for life. I never got a clear idea of the “rules” here.

This is the story of MacKenzie, Mac, a “mutant” born to two wereleopards. Mac can’t fully shift into a leopard, so she also can’t heal quickly by shifting forms. This also makes her very weak in comparison to other shifters. Most were parents would kill a “defective” child like this at birth. Mac’s mother wanted to kill Mac, but her father refused.

Mac’s unique condition means she has almost no shifter scent, making it easy to hide from other shifters among humans. Mac had been living among humans for a long time at the start of the story. She had gotten so “human”, that she has a dog! It is very odd for a cat shifter to have a dog, but I love Chunk, the French Bulldog. He adds a lot of humor to this story.

I liked the characters. They are far from perfect, but that makes them interesting. Mac is a strong, independent woman who consistently saves herself. Her struggle is allowing emotional connections with others and accepting help.

At the beginning, Mac has a casual sex relationship with “the male”. We later learn his name is Doug. I was amused that Mac keeps thinking of Doug as “the male” long after learning his name. It was obviously a ploy to distance herself from him emotionally. From the blurb, I expected the male romantic lead to be Ramone, so I was confused and put off by the sex and other intimacy with Doug. It’s not cheating, but I still only want intimacy with the main romantic partner. This is a strong preference of mine.

There are some trigger warnings. Mac was abused by her parents. She was sent to the were-jail when she was 16, and she was routinely beaten and raped there by the guards. There is also dubious consent in some of the sex scenes – Mac is physically restricted from moving, and her partner is not taking no for an answer, but intercourse does not happen until Mac is fully along for the ride.

Some graphic sex scenes. Scenes with the male romantic lead don’t occur until after 50%. They aren’t very explicit. Common language used in erotic novels is not used here.

Occasional foul language.

HEA.

1st person past tense, all from MacKenzie.

This is very well edited. I only found 11 errors.

323 pages. $2.99 on Amazon and part of Kindle Unlimited.

I downloaded this for free via BookSirens in exchange for an honest review.


Favorite Quotes:

I pulled off the 10 freeway and rolled down the window so Chunk could suffocate himself in the wind. After a bout of snorting and hacking, he stepped back inside and looked at me as if to say, Did you see how I almost died there?
I glanced at him and said, “Glutton and punishment. Put them together in a sentence and that’s what you are, buddy.”
He stood back up and stuck his face out the window again.

The old me was thinking, Don’t trust that bitch. But the new, emotional me was like Sex is good, let’s keep him.

He caught my leg as I crawled away and pulled me to him. Chunk let go a whine. “Hey, mutt,” he said. “I’m about to do stuff to your mommy you won’t like.”
As if Chunk understood every word, he threw me a worried look, then jumped off the bed and left the room.



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