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The Panther's LairLynneC’s review of The Panther’s Lair by Esmerelda Bishop
eBook novella released by Carina Press 28 June 10

The Panther’s Lair is a pleasant read rather than innovative and exciting, and you know how hard it is to write those kind of reviews.

Carina Press books are well edited, competently written and a fair price, but so far I haven’t read one that knocks my socks off. I will, however, be going back for more.

I had a few problems with the heroine’s name – Sydney means “boy” to me, so I had to keep reminding myself that we had a girl here.

The story is anything but original and has all the ingredients of a standard erotic romance. The feisty heroine, the best friend who goads her into action, the dark and sinister club, the mysterious hero with a foreign accent. French in his case, though I did wonder at some of it – he calls her “mon ame soeur,” or “my soul sister” for much of the book, and I wondered why he was calling her his sister while he was boinking her senseless. Maybe “mon ami de coeur” would have worked better for me. But yes, “mon ame soeur” does mean “soul mate” so she’s right in using it as a translation of the word.

Sydney is goaded into visiting The Panther’s Lair by her best friend, who, as is often the case, is a more interesting and lively character than Sydney. Can it be that there’s a story about Paige in the works? She meets dark and sexy Raimond, who strikes her as the perfect candidate for her one night stand. I don’t really like a heroine who thinks so little of herself that she wants a one night stand, and then disappears afterwards for no really good reason. They hit it off, but will he respect her in the morning? So she takes off.

I’m taking a whole point off for not thinking about protection before sex. He doesn’t because shapeshifters don’t, and she doesn’t because she’s carried away. Even though her friend gave her a pack and warned her to be careful. So Sydney acts like sex Barbie and forgets, and Raimond doesn’t treat her with the respect he could have used and just goes at it. With a complete stranger. I didn’t like that she didn’t assert it for her health, because of course she didn’t know about the shapeshifter bit before they go at it. It’s pretty obvious to the reader, though, from the name of the club to the way Raimond’s eyes flash yellow when he’s excited. I don’t buy it.

And she has anal sex then dresses afterwards. Erm – she’s going to be in a bit of a mess, what with the lubricant and all, so, ick. Shower would have been nicer.

The baddie, because there is one, is Teh Ebul. And he gets worse. He’s a typical cardboard villain, obviously only there to provide someone for Raimond to save her from, if you see what I mean. And it’s obvious that he will, so there’s very little tension in that part of the book. It’s always a problem, when you read a romance, because you know that the hero and heroine are going to survive, and end up together, so building that kind of danger is difficult, and it doesn’t really work here.

I guess I didn’t believe it because this sexy shapeshifter falls for an ordinary girl, and why would he? She’s not particularly bright or beautiful, she’s reticent until they get to the sex and he’s probably had dozens like her. The soul mate stuff has always struck me as cheating, unless there’s real conflict with the joining, and then it can get interesting. Not so here, he just recognizes her as his soul mate and goes for it. No explanation why she should be his, she just is. In this story, there was very little keeping them apart. He sees her, goes “mine” and she is. A few minor hobbles in the road are easily overcome.

But it’s nicely written, well edited and although predictable, a pleasant read.

LynneCs iconGrade: C


Sydney Chase may have sworn off relationships—but she still has needs. So she heads to the Panther’s Lair in search of sex: no strings, no emotions. The club owner, dark, mysterious Raimond Decoudreau, is exactly what she’s looking for—his French accent alone makes her hot. Fortunately, his mouth has other sinful talents, as well…

After just one night with Sydney, Raimond knows she’s his. And when the time is right, when she loves him in return, he’ll reveal his deepest secret. For now, he’ll enjoy pleasuring her in the most intimate of ways.

But when Sydney’s life is threatened, Raimond’s instincts take control, and she gets a glimpse at the beast within…

Read an excerpt.