"Kiss of Heat, Feline Breeds 3," by Lora Leigh

Pros: Further world development; sizzling relationship; enjoyable characters
Cons: Characters perhaps a bit too hard-headed; hand-wavy science
Rating: 3 out of 5

Not that long ago I reviewed the first two books in Lora Leigh’s “Feline Breeds” series, Tempting the Beast and The Man Within. Although I’ll try to sum up the basic background, I do recommend reading those reviews before reading this one. If you plan to read the books, the background section here will give away a few plot developments from previous books, so if that bothers you, skip onward to later sections.

A bit of background

The evil Genetics Council experimented with mixing animal and human DNA in an attempt to create the perfect killers, but some of their own scientists and “Breeds” rebelled and escaped. A handful of the Felines hid away for a time, trying to escape notice and the killers the Council sent after them. In Book 1, they were forced to reveal themselves in order to maintain their safety–and that of their new human allies, Merinus Taylor (a journalist) and her powerful family.

In Book II the Breeds tried to settle into their new walled compound despite repeated attempts on their lives. Taber, one of the Felines, discovered he was mated to an old friend of his, and he brought her to the compound to shield her from their enemies. Both she and Merinus, of course, as mates to two of the Felines, became targets for the Council.

Book III

In Book III we finally come to the story of Sherra and Kane. Kane is Merinus’ oldest brother, who long ago fell in love with Sherra, one of the Breeds. One of her Feline brethren, however, jealous of their feelings for each other, tried to kill Kane (nearly succeeding) and caused Sherra to miscarry her child, all the while convincing her that Kane had abandoned her. Even though she now knows that isn’t how things happened, she can’t let go of years of rage and hatred toward him–and the urge to protect them both from any further pain. She’s tried to hide from the fact that she’s mated to him, but now that he’s close her body won’t let her rest, driving her mad with pain and longing.

Complicating things is the rapid change in the Breeds’ public status. They’re bringing in more and more refugees from the Council’s experiments all the time, but they don’t have housing enough for all of them. People who think the Breeds are horrible, misbegotten creatures launch attacks against them, both blunt and subtle. And Merinus and Roni, both pregnant now, are constant targets. It’s Kane and Sherra’s job to keep everyone else safe–but somehow they have to deal with their own out-of-control feelings toward each other at the same time.

What doesn’t work

One of my pseudo-complaints is the same throughout this series, so I’ll quote from an earlier review:

This is really a paranormal erotic romance, not a science-fiction erotic romance, despite the description of the plot. The “science” is hand-wavy and rather silly in places. However, it also tends to take back-seat to the better material. This is entirely going to depend on the individual reader’s preferences. If you can’t stand pseudo-science that isn’t realistic, this book will drive you nuts in places. If you can look past that in order to enjoy the main characters and their relationship, then it isn’t a big deal. (I was somewhere in the middle–it made things feel silly in places, but for the most part I was able to look past it because the book was enough fun to make it worthwhile.)

The pseudo-science, Genetics Council, and military influence are all more prevalent in this book than in the others, which did make it a little harder to ignore spots that didn’t feel quite “right” in tone or detail.

Also, unlike the other two books which, I felt, never went overboard in how stubborn and hard-headed the characters were, this one seemed to go too far. By the time the characters’ feelings had been disclosed in sufficient detail to make their actions understandable, it was too late to avoid the eye-rolling “oh just get ON with it!” reaction.

What works

It’s interesting to watch the world develop further, exploring the consequences of the Breeds’ “coming out” to society. This book clearly sets the stage for further follow-ons, and I do look forward to reading them.

When Kane and Sherra do manage to connect, the scenes are pretty explosive and enjoyable. I happen to think Leigh writes good sex scenes–inventive and exciting without making you laugh (except, of course, when you’re supposed to).

Sexual content

Also quoted from one of those previous two reviews, since it still fits:

This is an “erotic romance,” or as the back of the book puts it, “romantica,” which blends a fully-realized romance plot with the full-blown sex of erotica. The author doesn’t hesitate to explore taboos or a wide variety of sexual acts and positions. Her sex scenes definitely sizzle, and she doesn’t mind using words many folks would shy away from using in embarrassment. If the sexual content in your erotic romance is important to you, there’s plenty of it here to keep you turning the pages! If you’re easily embarrassed or prefer your sex scenes tame, however, this is not the right book for you.

I still think that book 2 is the best of the series, followed by 1 and then 3, but each of them makes for an enjoyable evening’s read.

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