The Hunt
by Anne Marsh 
(Love Spell, $6.99, R)  ISBN 9780505528247 
***
Miu is on a dangerous mission to steal a precious necklace that is hidden somewhere in the temple of Amun Ra. The temple is overrun with Guardian warriors who can turn into feral cats at a moment’s notice. Miu is so daring because she is a thief who is under control of Lierr who holds Miu’s sister captive. Miu has a week to bring the necklace to Lierr or he will make her sister suffer. Miu is going to have a very difficult time because the only way for her to enter the temple is to participate in the bride hunt. For the hunt, virgin females are given a dowry and are hunted by the Guardians, and if caught they will be their mates. Miu is no virgin, but she’s good at pretending to be something she’s not. She thinks if she pretends to be a hapless virgin, she will have an easier time in locating the necklace.

Because Miu is too cocky for her own good, she catches the eye of Amun Ra who rules over the temple and the Guardians. He thinks Miu is up to no good and orders Jafar, a much skilled Guardian, to keep an eye on her. Jafar isn’t too thrilled with the babysitting job. But as he stalks her in the shadows, his inner cat calls out for Miu, as it would if it spotted his mate. Jafar doesn’t want Miu as his mate, even though he protects and helps her get out of scrapes as she roams the dangerous winding tunnels.

Miu mistakenly thinks Jafar is another thief Lierr sent in case she wasn’t successful. She offers a compromise and Jafar goes along with her. But then Miu finds the necklace and if caught, her crime is punishable by death. Jafar has fallen hard for Miu and the only way he can keep her safe and alive is to make her his mate and bond with her for all eternity.

The Hunt takes place in an alternative universe that is very reminiscent of Dara Joy’s past romances. The men here are very alpha and sex-driven and the women, such as Miu, are no-nonsense and prickly. I let out a few chuckles because Miu really does keep Jafar on his toes and annoys him so much that he doesn’t know what to do with her because she is always outwitting him. These two are very strong-willed but also stubborn. Because of that they get into more problems than they could have ever imagined. Watching Miu try to talk her way out of things was one of the reasons to keep reading.

The lust Miu and Jafar act upon wasn’t as heated as I thought it would be. The buildup between them has its moments, but when they finally quench their desire for one another, I found it to be a bit flat. There are more than a few sex scenes here but they just didn’t excite. I was more interested in how Miu was going to rescue her sister and the banter she shares back and forth with Jafar.

Anne Marsh has some nice world building in The Hunt, but at times I couldn’t figure out if she was trying for a dark, angsty read or a more lighthearted one. For a freshman novel I would say the author has done an acceptable job. I would be interested in seeing possible future books that take place in this world Ms. Marsh has created. I think Ms. Marsh has some great potential as a paranormal romance author who can build up a fan base.

The Hunt has some fun moments with a hero and heroine who make a great team, even though they drive each other crazy. 

--Catherine Anne


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