Tiger Magic, the fifth book in the Shifters Unbound series by Jennifer Ashley, heads back to the Austin Shiftertown and tells the story of Tiger. In the previous installment Tiger was rescued at an Area 51 lab in Las Vegas by Iona and Eric. Since that time he has settled down in Austin and is trying to figure out how to live a relatively normal life. He fixes cars with Conner, helps look after the cubs and lets his animal out to run. One afternoon, after a long run, he encounters a woman in a broken down car on a back road in need of help. As soon as he sets eyes on Carly he realizes that she is his mate and can see and feel the bond between them. Carly is sassy, outgoing and to Tiger’s eyes, perfect. After he repairs her car she takes him back with her to the house she shares with her fiancé so that he can call a ride to come and pick him up. Unfortunately they walk in on Carly’s fiancé having a sexy moment with another woman on the kitchen counter. Thus ends the engagement of Carly to her human partner and begins the mating to a shifter who is a complete mystery to everyone.
I was a little worried with how this book started out right off the bat with the two main characters instantly forming a matebond. I’m not usually a big fan of instant love and coupledom. I also wasn’t enamored of the fact that Carly had absolutely no issues with instantly jumping from one relationship to another. Carly and Tiger have a connection from the beginning and there isn’t any angst regarding how they feel for each other. Like ever. Carly jumps wholeheartedly into Tiger’s bed and even though he is the first shifter she has ever met she also doesn’t seem to have any doubts with the shifter community either. I wanted there to be some drama, maybe a little bit of Tiger having to convince her to stay with him. A little relationship angst does a story good.
I enjoyed Tiger. He was almost like a child in some instances, after spending his whole life locked behind the bars of a prison cell he is just learning to experience freedom. Carly is his first kiss, first time making love, in fact she is the first person to actually view him as a real person who is not to be feared. Tiger has created a sort of half-life while living with Liam and Kim in Austin. He has his freedom, but at the same time he doesn’t. Even the shifters aren’t sure how to handle him. He’s wonderful with the cubs and a natural protector to those weaker than him, but everyone knows he isn’t really subservient to the alpha Liam. Tiger follows his orders because he chooses to do so. When Carly enters the picture and she is put in danger over and over he starts to make different decisions that put him at odds with the shifter leadership.
The subplot of finding out why Tiger was created is what made this story work for me. A military organization is involved and it seems that they want to recapture Tiger to use as an experiment, taking DNA and blood samples, trying to create the perfect weapon. Tiger is attacked multiple times, he isn’t a normal shifter and doesn’t wear a real collar so there is nothing to slow him down or temper is emotions. After meeting Carly his natural inclination is to protect her and he does so repeatedly. The real meat of this story is Carly and Tiger overcoming the odds, finding a way to be together and figuring out what Tiger was created for. I enjoyed the introduction of Walker as a new character. He starts out as an enemy and ends up becoming an ally, I look forward to seeing him in later installments. Maybe he’ll finally give in and get down to business with Rebecca. 🙂
All in all another enjoyable read from the hardest working woman in romance. Seriously, does Jennifer Ashley/Allyson James ever step away from her computer? She puts out an amazing amount of books a year and always manages to make each one satisfying. Final Grade: B-
“I know what I was made for,” Tiger whispered into her ear. “I was made for you.”