August 2010, Decadent Publishing
Shapeshifters (cats), stalkers, recovery from assault, learning new skills, mistakes, bond of family, betrayal, fear, some violence (in cat & human forms), several moderately strong adult scenes.
Summary from Decadent
Born human, Mackenzie never wanted to be a shapeshifter. After a shifter stalks and brutally Changes her, she runs to the jaguars of River Gap pride for protection from the stalker still searching for her, to come to terms with the attack and learn to control her new, powerful cougar body.
Adam, a River Gap Sentinel, is assigned as her guard and mentor. Well aware of his strength and how new she is the shapeshifter world, he holds himself back from the flames of primal desire she ignites. But, to survive the stalker, they both need to first battle their pasts and learn what it truly means to be the sentinels of each other’s hearts.
Before I get to the review, I would like to apologise for taking so long to review this book. I read it along with a few others, and somehow thought I'd reviewed in. I hadn't. And so now I'm remedying back, because this is one of the first (if not the first...) shapeshifter book that I ever read. Whenever I hear about another shapeshifter book, I always think of Hearts Sentinel. Every single time. I can safely say this book has had a big impact on me!
Having a stalker is not cool. Having a crazed stalker turn you into a shapeshifter, is doubly uncool. Mac has the scars to show it. Not really on her body since as a shapeshifter she heals quickly. They are more in her head, and the way she reacts. Initially not everyone knows what happened to her. She's new to the social rules, and to shapeshifting in general, so it isn't entirely her fault when the signals she gives out are misread. When she gets reminded of the horrific time when she was Changed, her fear is at the front of her mind and actions. Adam does all he can to protect her, but he can't stop her insane stalker finding her, terrorising her, and using her previous ties to strike blows.
Adam isn't the only one to protect her - all the pride become fond of her. It is the children who help her get in tune with her inner cat. Those scenes had me go 'awwww' (for what the children did) and 'yay!' (when Mac achieved her goal). Don't get the wrong impression and think Mac is weak. She's the total opposite. But when recovering from a great trauma, the smallest thing can set her on edge. She doesn't lose it often. Quite often she is a claw-breadth away from losing it, but she manages to regain control by herself. Although she can shut people out, little by little she lets both Adam and the pride in, so that when it counts they can be there for her. It's this strength of character which has me liking her so much.
If you love stories involving shapeshifters you'll love Hearts Sentinel. If you haven't read about shapeshifters, and/or like reading about characters who go through a traumatic experience, have a few wobbles but manage to come out stronger the other side, you'll love Mackenzie's story.
Go check out more about PJ Schynder on her website.
Alpha, by Rachel Vincent, Follow Faythe as she lives with her pride, struggling with all the rivalries and politics (remember, this is the last book in the series, but it is seriously awesome)
Darkscape Redemption by R Garland Gray, sci-fi romance, not involving shapeshifters but it does involve trying to live with physical changes/differences brought about without consent.