The Guardians: mythical Werecats that guard an ancient temple high above the Valley. In exchange for their protection from a dark evil, the inhabitants of the Valley send their virgin daughters to the Guardians to participate in the annual Hunt. There the females scamper like white mice through the temple's dark catacombs awaiting the pounce of a Cat and the opportunity to slake their primal lust. Some of the women will stay and become mates while others will surface with an accompanying dowry. But some, sadly, will perish in the temple's dark depths for it's said that a great many of treasures lie deep below and any thief caught poaching will never again greet the surface. Miu is one such thief but with a desperate motive of life or death rather than mere greed.
Deliver the necklace or Lore dies. Period. Not an idle threat, Miu is more than desperate to do as told by the Master since her sister's life most definitely hangs in balance. Utilizing her moon daemon half as well as being armed with a map of the temple's catacombs, Miu runs in the Hunt with every intention of not getting caught by some randy Cat. She's here to pull a job and while circumstances conjure sexual thoughts, she'll just have to combat her suddenly raging hormones. That is until a particularly handsome mercenary decides she needs a bodyguard with extra benefits.
A Guardian on a mission, Jafar is sent by the temple's leader Amun Ra to discover what this particular little female is up to since it's obvious that she's not typical of the sort that participates in the Hunt. Sure enough, Jafar's little Miu leads him on a merry chase through the catacombs guided shockingly by a map thus igniting all sorts of dangerous questions. Who was able to create such a map of the heavily guarded temple? What is Miu searching for? And the most important question of all: why does Miu stir up a raging primal possession within his Cat? Seizing the opportunity to try and gain Miu's trust to procure the answers he seeks, Jafar doesn't correct her mistaken assumption that he's not a Guardian because he lacks the facial tattoos that claim his race.
When the Cat's out of the bag (pun intended) Miu feels betrayed but accepting of the fact that Jafar lied about being a Guardian. It's expected that all men lie and Jafar merely proved himself to be no exception. It's no surprise then to Miu either when Jafar bargains with her that in exchange for being his "docile" mate, he'll help her escape the temple and the Guardians with the necklace she seeks as well as save her sister. More than desperate, Miu resigns to her fate and accepts the bargain all the while telling herself that the deep seeded desire she feels for Jafar has no bearing whatsoever on her decision. Uh yeah, keeping telling yourself that sister! *wink* But truly, Jafar has a lot to make up for in Miu's eyes and he spends the rest of novel defying and destroying all of Miu's beliefs where males are concerned when finally, while gripping a dead body and suspended over a dark tube leading inevitably towards death, Miu accepts that she loves her Cat. But can that love save Jafar? The Guardians are after him for his betrayal. He chose Miu over them then proceeded to sully that betrayal even more when he stole their necklace. All of which he'll be mortally punished for if Miu doesn't come up with a plan quick, one that might miraculously save them both and grant them a much deserved Happily Ever After.
A consistent character, Miu's bravery, stubbornness, and vital sarcasm never weavers from beginning to end. Instead her character growth boils down to trust. Bred on survival, the only being she trusts is herself. But when faced with Jafar, Miu is thrown through a loop. Her instincts war within her and while Jafar proves his loyalty time and again, Miu's heart demands the ultimate sacrifice. Interestingly enough, it comes down to Miu making that sacrifice. Not unlike the fact that no one has ever done anything for Miu without their own personal gain, Miu herself has operated under that same thought until Jafar. For the first time in her life she sacrifices herself for another, so that he - Jafar - can live.
Jafar is a gentleman through and through. Sure he's got some skeletons in the closet and yes he's killed countless times, all in the name of protection and the destruction of evil of course, but in essence, Jafar's just a good guy with a good heart.
While he's had some bad luck with the fairer sex, it doesn't hold him back from wanting to protect Miu. She immediately tugs at his heart strings and he's soon wrapped around her finger. Brave, courageous and determined, he never gives up on winning Miu's trust even though she makes him work damn hard for it. Any man willing to turn his back on his leader and his brothers, to give up the life he knows all to save one slip of a girl he barely knows makes him a definite keeper. Thank goodness Miu figures that out.
THE HUNT, while a superbly entertaining action romance, left some unfortunate confusion in its wake. Let's start with the setting, does it take place in some alternate Egyptian reality or on a seperate planet all together? My confusion on this knew no bounds and I blame it on the mention of such names as Amun Ra and Jafar as well as elemental magic and the sparkle of treasure. All of which painted an Aladdin landscape that I had diffuclty dispelling. Further research uncovered that yes, THE HUNT does take place on another planet. This was discovered after locating the single, one and only sentence of this fact mentioned in the first chapter...
Then there was the lack of information regarding character aspects, the most glaring being Jafar's lack of Guardian facial markings. I waited endlessly as for why but discovered that while its convenient for the plot, the reason was never unveiled to my knowledge. Obviously not too determinental to the plot but for me, the lack left lingering questions.
And finally, I was more than shocked that Miu risks her life time and again for her sister but in the end, we never meet her. Instead she's rapidly wisked away at a pivital moment with nary a description. Why? Why go through all this trouble and continuous near death experiences just to end the book with no resolution between the two women? This above everthing gave me the most pause.
In summary, THE HUNT is a fun and fast paced action adventure. Its a great summer vacation read that gives just the right amount of entertainment to hurry along an otherwise slow afternoon. As debuts go, its pretty damn good but for this seasoned reader and reviewer, the questions never ceased.