The Leopard King (Ars Numina, #1) by Ann Aguirre
Series: Ars Numina #1
Publication Date: September 28th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
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Proud. Imperious. Impassioned.
Until three years ago, those words applied to Dominic Asher, the leader of Ash Valley. His family has ruled the feline branch of the Animari for hundreds of years, guiding the pride through perilous times. Unspeakable loss drove him into seclusion, a feral beast nobody can tame. Now he’s wrecked, a leopard king in exile, and he wants nothing more than to die.
Fierce. Loyal. Determined.
Fortunately for Dom, those words still apply to Pru Bristow, his dead mate’s best friend. She’s had her heart broken too, but she never quits. With the conclave approaching, alliances with the Pine Ridge pack and Burnt Amber clans on the verge of collapse, she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to drag their leader back, before his second can start a war.
At best theirs seems like a desperate alliance, but when their mate bond turns hot and fierce, there’s no end to the questions and the doubts. Neither of them expects to fall in love. But sometimes people don’t know what they’re looking for until they find it.
The Leopard King is the first book in Ann Aguirre’s Ars Numina series. Ahh, the angst! The first few chapters of this book were Intense (with a capital I). It lightened up some after that, but overall this was a pretty dark read. I really enjoyed the way the romance and the story arc progressed.
Dominic Asher was the leader of the Ash Valley shifters until his wife was murdered. For the past three years he’s been hiding away in a mountain retreat, slowing wasting away. When Pru, his dead wife’s best friend, shows up and says he needs to return to the pack, he wants nothing to do with her or his place as leader. Pru is a Latent (meaning she can’t Shift), so Dom tells her he won’t return until she can Shift and go back as his mate. Something he knows will never happen.
Pru spent years trying to force the change. The best way is through some kind of strong emotion, so she’s tried everything from slitting her wrists to jumping off buildings to make it happen. She’d given up years ago, but for Dom and the good of the pack she’s willing to try again.
Dom didn’t expect to have such a visceral reaction to Pru hurting herself. Nor did he realize the depth of her inner strength or her stubbornness. It isn’t long before her attempts to Shift firmly pull him back into the land of the living.
Pru really made this book for me. Dom was great, don’t get me wrong, but I adored Pru. She was calm and level-headed under pressure, fierce and strong when she needed to be, and stubborn enough to get any job done. There were a few times I got frustrated with her for rushing into things without thinking them over, but overall she was pretty awesome.
Dom’s anger and grief over hist lost mate was heartbreaking and visceral. Those early chapters just slayed me. His slow transition back into the land of the living with Pru’s help was fabulous to read about. I’m telling you, Aguirre really knows how to hit those emotional high notes.
The action lacked a little something. I’m not sure what. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the action scenes, exactly, just that I felt like something was missing from them. It was almost like they were glossed over in some ways, which lessened their impact on me as a reader. Aside from that, I really enjoyed the way the story progressed and all the secondary characters. I’m really looking forward to starting the next book.
Danger, intrigue, heartbreak, healing and love….The Leopard King has it all.
4.25 out of 5