Reclaimed (Shadow Beast Shifters Book 2)
I’m always apprehensive of Jaymin Eve. I first discovered her while I was researching for a spin-off of Candy For Demons in a college setting. At that point I knew ‘academy’ was a paranormal romance genre, and I’d read J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Legacy series. During my YA phase, I’d read Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy, and there were a lot of similarities between Ward’s and Mead’s series, but Ward’s characters were adults, albeit young, and having a lot of sex whereas Mead’s were teenagers having only a little sex. Based on this, I assumed that Black Dagger Legacy was ‘academy’.
Jaymin Eve proved me wrong on two accounts. First of all, these are not adults who happen to be young. They are extremely juvenile people. They are fresh out of high school, and they act like they’re fresh out of high school. I’m not saying this as a bad thing. I enjoy the shenanigans. I recognize that there’s a lot of sex in college. Yes, some of these characters feel immature even for college, but okay.
The other thing I discovered through Jaymin Eve is reverse harem. I knew this existed, I did not know that virtually all academy series are also reverse harem. This is not something I want. I’ve written thruples, but reverse harem is just too much for me. And since I had no idea that ‘academy’ also means ‘orgies’, I was completely blindsided by Jaymin Eve’s and Jane Washington’s Curse of the Gods series. It’s so obvious from the blurb, it just didn’t click at the time.
The thing is, I loved Curse of the Gods. It didn’t sell me on RH, that’s definitely never going to be my thing, but I loved it in spite of that. And I thought, ‘you know what would be amazing? A Jaymin Eve—” or Jane Washington, I have no idea who contributed what “—series that isn’t RH.”
I find Supernatural Academy. I had, technically, already found it but been turned off by the name. But it Jaymin Eve, and I was assured it was not RH (it’s not, don’t think I’m implying anything), so I went for it. I read the first book, and I really liked it. But…
…I never picked up the second book. I just didn’t care. I don’t know why. I can’t say there was anything wrong with it. I liked the world, I liked the characters. It was an Atlantis plotline, so maybe that was it. But another part of me thought I just couldn’t handle how juvenile the characters were. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that when I read YA/MG, I occasionally have that thought of, “Can we get an adult here?” And when characters are having orgies and I’m still thinking they need an adult to hold their hands (not through the orgy LOL), that’s a problem for me.
So I didn’t read any more academy. I decided to write my series how I wanted, to use academy tags and academy covers and make it clear they were not RH. Fine. Never looking back.
And then I happened to be through my reading list, scrolling through one of my PNR groups, and I see a lot of chatter about Eve’s newest series, Shadow Beast Shifters. People are going nuts over it. I’m fairly new to PNR groups, I have no idea how they reacted to Curse of the Gods or Supernatural Academy. Maybe they’re always nuts over Eve. But I don’t recall seeing her recommended a lot. In fact, I’m the only one I’ve seen recommend Curse of the Gods.
So I take the leap.
I regret nothing.
Shadow Beast Shifters is not academy, and it’s definitely not RH—although there’s a moment where five hot gods are introduced and I had that oh no feeling—but the main character, Mera, is young. She’s about to turn 22, but she’s still juvenile. She’s still a student who’s still dealing with schoolyard bullies, and as a shifter, she’s still not reached true adulthood. She may be 21, but she feels 17, which really does make a difference. When she runs away from her pack and gets a job at a diner, I’m not thinking adult doing adult things. I’m thinking that time Buffy ran away and changed her name to Joan in the summer before her senior year of high school.
And just like the other academy books I’ve read, Shadow Beast Shifters relies heavily on the YA trope of Teenage Nobody Who’s Actually Superwoman. (Yes, those are all links to different series. I highly recommend the ones you’re less likely to have heard of). Honestly, the use of this trope might be the most off-putting aspect of academy because it make it feels so much more like teenagers banging.
But all of this is mitigated because the other main character, Shadow, is an adult. He’s immortal, and he acts like he’s immortal. He has real issues that he takes seriously. He treats her how an adult would treat someone like her. And I get that sometimes a mature man and an immature woman looks like grooming, but she has this whole tragic background—the first book is called Rejected for reasons going well beyond the fact that her mate has rejected her—that tilts that grooming issue into something that works. The world he gives her is the world she needs, and the skepticism she holds because of her past keeps the romantic pacing where it needs to be. They’ve both had these tragic pasts, they both have these walls that need to come down.
There’s also a play on Beauty and the Beast. Big library, big beast, girl everyone loves. Except she’s also sassy and broken, and that makes it so much better.
So here’s the deal: this is really tropey. It’s self-aware. There a references to other similar books, that whole “this feels like a shifter novel but it’s not because I’m real teehee” that drives me fucking bonkers. I’m not going to claim that every word is perfect.
But it’s good. It is damn good. The plot is solid, the characters are unique and engaging, the rejected mate trope is played in a surprising way. Only two of three books have been published so far, and I have no idea where the third book is going in the best way possible. I tell you the bad things so that when you read it, you know that there will be rough parts but they’ll be worth it.
The important thing here is if you’ve been floating around Jaymin Eve and debating if and where to start, this is it. This is the starting point.