Rating: 4.25 stars
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The Hunt on planet Mariket is an intricate mating dance between the cats of Mariket and the other species of the universe. Shane West has his own reasons for entering the Hunt. He does not want to be the victor, or a permanent mate to a cat. Mostly he just wants to get in and get out without making too many waves. He and some of his craftier competitors have goals of their own, goals to further their lives and move on from where they are. Shane wants make it through the Hunt and become a trade ambassador between the cats and his home planet. Only then would he be important enough for his brothers to stop trying to kill him. Then they could fight over the family business amongst themselves.
When Shane encounters a playful puma on the first night of the Hunt, his gameplay changes. A temporary mating is to be expected. The possessiveness and protective instincts of his new cat, Lore, are par for the course. Allies are hard to come by and fickle in the game of chance. And when unexplainable attempts are made on his life, Shane turns to Lore, the only one he can truly trust in the Hunt. Even if it means his goals change and he loses his heart along the way.
You know what I love about Kari Gregg’s paranormal stories? They are so out of the box, so original and so captivating. An Unauthorized Field Guide to the Hunt is both paranormal and sci-fi, and it’s a really great read. It’s a sort of adult Hunger Games without the senseless killing and with lots of hot sweaty man-sex.
I’m always a fan of new and different worlds. I picture this world as mostly a dense, dark forest. The cats of Mariket live mostly in the trees, but do come down while in the arena to claim a mate. It’s mysterious and exciting. Outside of Mariket, the human world is very dangerous. It’s a world of dog eat dog – son’s assasinating brothers, fathers, and grandfathers for money and self-importance. It’s a hard, selfish world. I really enjoyed experiencing this world through Shane’s eyes.
The cats of Mariket are aggressive and dominant. They are possessive to the nth degree and so damn sexy for it. They are humanoid, standing on two feet, with fur, pointed ears, and a tail. So, yes, sex with the cats of Mariket is technically sex in animal form, as they only have one form. I have no qualms with this, others may. Gregg does an excellent job of humanizing Lore, making him more than simply a cat, creating within him a man who is easy to love.
This is Shane’s story, the story of a man who was basically run out of his home by his plotting, murderous brothers. He’s strong and confident in his goals. He shows no vulnerability and forces himself to keep his eyes on the prize. And then he finds comfort and lust and maybe love, and fashions his goals around his new life. No regrets, just contentment. He’s a great character.
The mystery of this story – who is going to such great lengths in trying to kill Shane and why? – is a great part of the book. The story itself it so intriguing from beginning to end that the mystery is merely another level of interest in a book with so much creativity and imagination. It’s a short and fun story that is, as always with Gregg’s writing, easy to read.
I really enjoyed this story and wouldn’t mind reading more in this world sometime in the future. I love the characters and the mystery/romance of this book, but the real enjoyment for me came from the world. I definitely recommend An Unauthorized Field Guide to the Hunt by Kari Gregg.