GUARDIAN'S MATE - Jennifer Ashley
A Shifters Unbound Novel
, Book 9
Berkley Sensation
ISBN-13:  978-0-425-28136-9
September 2016
Paranormal Romance

Montana and Alaska - Present Day

Rae, a Lupine, or black wolf, had been found years ago after both her parents were killed, and she was adopted by Eoin, Alpha of the feline shifters.  Though part of a pack, Rae was not really one of them, but at least she felt safe.  Several months ago, the Guardian of their pack had been killed, and Eoin, as the Alpha, was conducting a Choosing, hoping that the Goddess would show them who the next Guardian was.  Guardians have a large sword used to send people to the Summerland after they die, lest the fae take their souls.  This is the fourth time in six months for the Choosing ceremony, and so far the Goddess hasn't chosen anyone, until the sword Rae was holding to catch the dawn light suddenly jerked out of the sheath and carried her arm with it.  Then a shaft of light shown down from the treetops and enclosed Rae, the sword and the sheath.  The Goddess had Chosen, Rae was the new Guardian.  No one believes Rae can be a Guardian, so it is a good idea she is taken away until she learns what it takes to be a Guardian.

Zander is enjoying himself on his fishing boat in the waters off Alaska by himself when Rae is dumped on him so he can teach her about being a Guardian.  How can he teach her about being a Guardian, he's a Healer, and a polar shifter, he needs the peace and quiet of his life because of the pain that flows through him when he does a healing.  At times after a healing Zander is deathly ill and weakened, that is why he lives alone and can only be found by people who really need him.  Zander can teach her about fighting with swords, but not how to be a Guardian, but somehow having Rae by him brings him some much needed peace in his life.

When Zander is contacted about an old man close to the end of his life, Rae is the closest Guardian to send him on his way, even though she doesn't know how.  After Zander helps her, she and the old man's son Ezra get in a fight in the town bar, and they end up escaping in Zander's boat with the Coast Guard and a man determined to catch all uncollared shifters after them.  All shifters have a special collar that gives electric shocks in case a shifter turns aggressive, but Rae is the only one with a collar, Ezra and Zander do not have collars.  A fight with Carson, who is determined to catch them, leads them into the Alaskan version of the Bermuda Triangle.  If Carson catches them, will he turn Ezra and Zander in for having no collars, and Rae for being away from her assigned territory?

Jennifer Ashley continues the story of the Shifters with Rae and Zander.  Both of them have gifts that no one else would ever want; Rae is a Guardian, only needed when someone dies, and Zander, a Healer, who must find some way to keep the physical ailments of everyone around him from taking away all his strength.  Told from Rae's and Zander's points of view, Rae is scared no one wants her around or even believes she was chosen as a Guardian, and has no one to teach her how to be a Guardian or how to use the sword.  Zander prefers life on a fishing boat, away from others.  When Zander heals, he takes the pain away from the person and it goes into his body.  Being by someone dying is even more horrendous, he almost cannot stand the pain.  But when Zander has Rae dropped in his boat, he knows someone has to teach her something about her sword, and at least he can do that.

Secondary characters are Eoin, Rae's father, and Ezra, whose father is the first person to need her skill as a Guardian.  Ezra's depression leads him to join Rae and Zander into finding a pack for him to make friends.  Carson McCade is a human hunter with one goal in life, to end the lives of all shifters like the feral shifters that attacked him and sent his wife into a coma for the past several years.  And Miles was hired by Carson to provide the boat to catch Rae and Zander, but is a secret shifter.  All these people are drawn together by the shifters and Rae and Zander.

If you've never read any shifter stories, GUARDIAN'S MATE is one of the best.  This is the 9th book in the Shifters Unbound Series , and while reading the others will introduce you to some of the other characters, you will not be lost in learning about their world.  Join Rae and Zander as they learn to love their differences and realize how much they need the other to complete themselves.

Carolyn Crisher