Claimed by the Mate is actually two books in one. “Feral Passions” by Kate Douglas, and “The Alpha’s Mate” by A. C. Arthur. I have reviewed both, one a wonderful story – the other? Not so much.

Parents can be so hateful. So cruel and full of spite, destroying the souls of their children on a whim, trying to force their will, destroying their child’s self-esteem. It never goes away. The pain of knowing that you are not enough, not good enough, not perfect enough, for your parents to love you.

Cheraza “Cherry” DuBois knows all about being unloved. She has her father’s height, his big bones, big breasts and lush hips. She isn’t out of proportion, she is just a big girl. And her parents hate her for that. While her sister got summer camp, Cherry got fat camp. And when she lost her virginity in the back of a car, while the guy took photos and spread them all over the net to humiliate her, he wasn’t punished. Oh, no. While she was kicked out of school and made a pariah by everyone who knew her, her parents made it worse. They cut all ties and threw her out of their lives like garbage. Their daughter wasn’t perfect, she was an embarrassment, and they made sure she knew it.

Now, ten years later, Cherry lives her own life as a marketing analyst, loving her work, but locking everyone but her sister, Christa, and Christa’s best friend Steph out of her life. Cissy and Steph have always been there for her. Always supported her. So when they beg Cherry to come along on a girl’s only vacation, a week at a private wolf preserve, how can she say no? A week in the northern California mountains, at a preserve and resort where only six women a week are allowed, where women can “get in touch with nature without the hassle of guys and all that testosterone-driven need to hike farther, climb higher.” Six women, the total focus of a bunch of really hot guys who are determined to make sure they enjoy their stay. Well, they do encourage you to bring along books, or knitting, or painting, or whatever other hobbies you wish to pursue. No Wi-Fi or cell phone reception, so the idea of total relaxation is quite appealing.

The landscape is gorgeous. The wolves come close, and the air is fresh and clean, just what a San Francisco girl needs to clear her head and relax. And it allowed me to relax as well as I pictured the landscape of the story in my mind. I could almost smell the air and see the wildflowers and the wolves. Kate Douglas paints a beautiful picture of the preserve. And of course, the massage that Cherry gets at her cabin made me way jealous… sigh.

Feral Passions is a lovely little paranormal romance that I truly enjoyed and will read again. I haven’t read Douglas before, but this book encourages me to check out her other works. I loved her understanding of Cherry’s pain and inability to see herself as anything other than ugly and unlovable because of what her family and others did to her. I also loved watching as she began to grow and change, beginning to believe in her own worth as a human being. Thank you, Ms. Douglas, for your eyes-open approach to Cherry’s situation and how her parents destroyed her ability to see good in herself.

The second book in this two volume set, The Alpha’s Woman by A. C. Arthur was diametrically opposed to the mindset of the first book. Honestly, it clashed so deeply with the strong woman character of the first book I found it disconcerting. Kira Radney is the daughter of an alpha wolf, and the mythology of the story is different than most paranormal romance werewolf stories. Here, the wolves came about through Zeus being Zeus, i.e., a complete and total jerk. Fast forward and the wolves have been segregated on earth, away from utopian Arcadia, and are now two warring tribes, the Hunters and the Devoted. The Hunters want to kill off all the Devoted, who wish to live in harmony and peace with humans and the other hidden creatures as well. The Hunters simply with to hunt, kill and rut. Kira is an alpha, born to the Hunters, but when her mother is murdered and her father tries to foist her off on a brutal beta so that she can be controlled, she takes off, only to find herself captured by yet another alpha. An alpha who captures her and drags her back to his home, only to mind rape her and pull the whole “you are going to take it, and not come until I allow you to” crap that some women, for some stomach twisting reason, think is ‘sexy.’ When it got to the alpha telling Kira that she was going to learn to be strong and in control, then tying her to a weight bench and raping her – well, that is when I stopped reading. That sort of cold, manipulative, demeaning savagery makes me sick, and I had to put the book down and walk away. How is rape teaching a woman that she is in control of her own life? The whole ‘out of control’ sexual content of the book, and the weak-minded female character thinking with her vagina instead of her head, was diametrically opposed to the strong female character of the first book. I wouldn’t have put these two together on a bet.

So, one beautifully done book and one bit of sickening, over-sexed savagery. Kate Douglas will get more of my attention, while Arthur will go on my “not again, even if there is nothing else left in the world to read” list.

I received Claimed by the Mate from the publisher in exchange for a realistic, honest review. As you can see, I honestly loved the first, honestly despised the second! Five stars for Feral Passions, zero stars for The Alpha’s Mate.

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