BODY GUARD (Shifter Unbound #2.5) by Jennifer Ashley
Elizabeth Chapman is an independent woman, raising her younger sister and hiding a few secrets that she hopes no one will find. Owning and operating a small store just outside of Shiftertown, she is one of the few human merchants willing to allow the shifters into her store. But when one of the local gang members decides to rob her store at gunpoint, Elizabeth is surprised to find a 15 ft Kodiak shifter coming to her rescue.
Ronan is a bear shifter from Shiftertown. 20 years earlier, the government forced all shifters collared and relocated to towns where they would not bother and anger the humans. But discrimination is ugly whether you are human or shifter, and forcing them into areas once littered by garbage and debris was punishment for existing. And Ronan has taken it upon himself to house many of the unmated and young shifters without family or anyone to look after. With his extended family of shifters, Ronan knows what it is like to be alone in a room full of people. But finding Elisabeth Chapman facing a gun, enraged the protective instincts of the bear within, and he soon found himself shackled before a judge for the attempt on the gang member’s life.
Freedom has its’ costs, but keeping Elisabeth and her sister Mabel safe, was Ronan’s first priority. Knowing the gang would not stop, Ronan anointed himself Elisabeth’s bodyguard and protector for as long as the gang was still a threat. And there were internal threats as well. Those in charge of Shiftertown knew Elizabeth had a secret, and they were not going to allow Elizabeth to bring any more problems into their small community of shifters and their mates. But Ronan’s bear wanted more –he wanted a mate- and Elizabeth was his to claim. And as a mate-claimed female, Elizabeth would be protected by everyone in Shiftertown and therefore she would no longer be perceived as a threat.
When the gang members made it known that they would not tolerate shifters or Elizabeth’s interference, Ronan agreed to a compromise –of sorts. Shifter fights were illegal, but what the authorities did not know, did not hurt-except those that were left dead or maimed. Agreeing to fight at the local fights, Ronan had no idea what he was about to face. But Elizabeth’s past was about to catch up and it was during the fights that Ronan would finally learn what it was like to be truly loved and part of something bigger.
BODY GUARD is a great novella in Jennifer Ashley’s Shifter Unbound series. The attraction between Elizabeth and Ronan was not readily apparent, because there wasn’t any of the relationship angst. Ronan was nothing but a gentle (bear) where it involved his mate, and his was willing to take everything slow, although the mating frenzy would soon catch up. The character development was smooth. I liked that Jennifer included some of the Shiftertown background premise in the storyline allowing for new readers some semblance of fluidity. Many novels cannot be read as stand-alone, but when the author includes pertinent background information, it is a bonus for everyone especially the new reader to any series. I am looking forward to Jennifer’s next novel in the Shifter Unbound series.
Reviewed by Sandy