Panther shifter Carlos Panterra witnessed his entire family slaughtered before his eyes. He tried to save them, but was only able to rescue five young from his pack who are now orphans. He's tried to be a good father to them, but he knows they need a mother, too, who can give them all the things he can't. Also believing that they are now the last of their kind, Carlos feels a strong responsibility to carry on their line, and he can only accomplish that with a mate. It's possible to change a human into a shifter, but they often don't survive the transition. After experiencing so much loss in his life, Carlos is unwilling to take the chance of losing a woman he loves, so he's determined to find a female shifter to take as his mate. He's been planning a trip to Thailand to follow a lead on a possible shifter pack, but before his departure, he meets a human woman who stirs his passion to a fever pitch, making it nearly impossible for him to remember his mission and stay away from her.
Caitlyn Whelan hasn't seen her sister, Shanna, in years until she receives an invitation to a birthday party for Shanna's young son. Caitlyn is excited to reunite with Shanna, but when she discovers that her sister is now married to a vampire and hangs out with supernaturals creatures every day, she's floored. Then she meets Carlos and a deep attraction forms between them. Having just lost her job at the State Department, Caitlyn is out of work, so when Shanna's security team offers her a job, putting her psychic gift for understanding languages to good use, she jumps at the chance. Not only is it a good career opportunity, but she'll be working closely with Carlos, especially when she makes a compelling case for going along on his trip. Together, they face all sorts of dangers in the Thai jungle that bring them closer, stoking their passions. But can Carlos get past his fear of losing Caitlyn to let her try becoming a shifter so he can realize his dream of rebuilding his species?
Eat Prey Love is the ninth full-length novel in Kerrelyn Sparks's Love at Stake series. This one pairs panther shifter Carlos with Shanna's younger sister, Caitlyn. Carlos has become an adoptive father to five panther shifter orphans and feels it's his duty to find a female of his kind to carry on their line. Caitlyn has just lost her job with the State Department, and after many years apart, she finally reconnects with Shanna during little Constantine's fourth birthday party. Shanna offers Caitlyn a job working for MacKay Security & Investigations, which places her in close proximity with Carlos. There's an instant spark between the pair, but Carlos is resistant to getting involved with her, because she's not a shifter. Even though Carlos is eager to leave on a trip to Thailand to follow a lead on finding a panther mate, Angus insists that he personally train Caitlyn first, which proves to be an exercise in sexual frustration. Then knowing her psychic talents could be of help to him, Caitlyn insinuates herself into accompanying him on his trip. Carlos continues to fight his attraction to her, but as they face down all sorts of dangers in the Asian jungle, including a powerful new vampire cult, he comes to realize that, cat or not, she's the only woman for him.
Carlos was introduced in the fifth book of the series, All I Want for Christmas Is a Vampire, as one of Toni's best friends. Ever since then, he's allowed her and pretty much everyone he's met to believe that he's gay, because it's a convenient way to keep women from pursuing him. After losing his entire family in Brazil when their village was massacred, he's felt a strong pull toward the duty of propagating his race, since he believes that panther shifters are now an endangered species. To do that, though, he needs a panther mate, but there are no females of age that he knows about. He also wants a mother for the five, orphaned panther children he adopted following the massacre. Carlos had just gotten a lead on a possible panther pack in Thailand and is planning a trip there, when he meets Caitlyn at the birthday party. Sparks immediately fly between them, but he knows he can't allow himself to get close to her until Angus forces the issue by insisting that he train MacKay S & I's newest employee and later by assigning her to accompany Carlos on his trip. Still, Carlos fights the attraction. Although he knows that it's possible to turn a human into a shifter, many don't survive the transition, and once Carlos realizes just how much he's come to care about Caitlyn, he can't allow her to take the risk. As they trek through the Thai jungle, making some surprising new discoveries, he struggles between his head and his heart over what to do about the future. I've loved Carlos since he first appeared in the series and was very happy to finally get a chance to read his book. He's a wonderful hero who has a strong sense of honor and duty. I admire him for taking on the role of fatherhood to five orphans. Like most of the heroes in this series, he's protective and possessive toward Caitlyn without being an alpha jerk. In fact, he has a sweet side that I really enjoyed.
Caitlyn hasn't seen or heard from Shanna since she left home years ago. Caitlyn is excited by the prospect of finally reconnecting with the older sister she adored, so she eagerly accepts the birthday party invitation, only to discover that creatures she thought existed just in myths are in fact real. After getting over her initial shock, Caitlyn must decide between two job offers, one working for her dad on his CIA Stake-Out team, and the other working for MacKay S & I. After seeing how much her dad hates vampires and worrying that he may someday try to harm his own half-vampire grandchildren, her decision isn't a difficult one. Not to mention, she'll get the extra perk of working with the hot panther shifter who just gave her the most memorable kiss of her life. After Carlos keeps rejecting her, though, Caitlyn's old insecurity about not being good enough rears its ugly head, but after meeting his kids and realizing how important his mission is, she can't let him go it alone. She possesses a psychic power for being able to instantly understand any language and learn to speak it within hours, so she believes that her gift, along with her State Department connections, could be valuable assets to him. Although initially reluctant, Carlos gradually starts to open up to her, and together, they share the adventure of a lifetime that only solidifies the love that's been building since the moment they met. Caitlyn may be a powerful psychic, but physically she's a bit of a marshmallow, making their training scenes pretty humorous. Her misaimed shots and knife throws were a hoot. In spite of her lack of physicality and fighting skills, she proves herself an adventurous soul who's brave in the face of danger. She's also sweet with a good heart, great with kids, and has a very loving and forgiving side toward Carlos.
Like all the other books in the series, Eat Prey Love is chock full of supporting characters, many of whom have their own books. As always, Roman and Shanna (How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire) are the cornerstone couple and I adore their kids, Constantine and Sophia. Angus and Emma (Be Still My Vampire Heart) head up MacKay S & I and take good care of their employees. Ian and Toni (All I Want for Christmas Is a Vampire) put in a couple of appearances. Robby (The Vampire and the Virgin) helps out a few times. Connor, who'll become the hero of the next book, Vampire Mine, is still acting as Roman and Shanna's main bodyguard. Gregori (Sexiest Vampire Alive) takes Caitlyn on a date in an attempt to make Carlos jealous. Phineas (Wanted: Undead or Alive) holds down the fort at Romatech and gets a job promotion. Howard (Wild About You), another of the shifter guards, escorts Caitlyn into the birthday party. Zoltan (How to Seduce a Vampire (Without Really Trying)), the head of the European coven, comes with a few others to aid Carlos and Caitlyn when they make a surprising discovery in the jungle. And last but not least, we're introduced to Russell (Crouching Tiger, Forbidden Vampire), a new vampire who I can't say much about without giving away spoilers, but suffice it to say that he's part of the jungle discovery. I think most of the other heroes and heroines of the series also put in appearances, but they didn't have much if any lines. Still, just seeing them all was a nice little treat for a long-time fan like myself.
Overall, Eat Prey Love was another great addition to the series. I loved Carlos and Caitlyn together and thought they complimented each other well. Carlos is a yummy hero with just the right balance of alpha possessiveness and beta sweetness. Caitlyn is a sweetheart, and I particularly enjoyed her psychic ability, which is one I'd love to have. Their relationship is pretty much an insta-love one, which I wasn't too sure about at first, but as the story progressed, I was more on board with it and thought they proved their love several times. The sexual tension is high throughout with a few steamy good times to sweeten the deal. Their adventure in the Thai jungle was full of danger but a nice touch of humor as well. I have a feeling their discoveries will lead to more interesting story developments down the line, as well as providing a new foe for our intrepid heroes to fight. All in all, I had a really great time reading Eat Prey Love and very much look forward to seeing what comes next. I highly recommend the book and the entire series to fans of paranormal romance with a lighter side.
The Hope Chest Reviews on Facebook