Collector’s Item by Denise Golinowski

COLLECTOR
Collector’s Item by Denise Golinowski
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (185 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Daisy

Alpha were-jaguar, Katarina “KT” Marant is trained to protect the pride so when her aunt disappears, KT naturally takes up the hunt. Her suspicion settles on the Collectors, humans who view shapeshifters as the ultimate big game.

Peyton Allers can’t believe he’s got to blow his cover to rescue a shapeshifter “princess.” Even harder to believe is that she wants to stage her own kidnapping in order to catch the leader of the Collectors and find her aunt.

Everything goes sideways when KT is kidnapped for real and by someone she never suspected. Will Peyton find her before time runs out? Or will she become a true Collector’s Item?

Ms. Golinowski opens her novel strong. We have paranormal creatures, introduced by the protagonist KT Marant who hates wet humans: they ‘clog’ her nostrils. We also have a missing Aunt and a young girl wanting to live on her own, away from her own kind. The close attention to all the senses – the splashes, drops and smells, the melting of ‘rich, dark chocolate’ – in this world are a bonus which makes the story come to life. That’s good writing and plenty of plot points to get my teeth into.

There are places I outright chuckled at the peculiarities of KT, particularly during a certain unfortunate incident with her laptop, but she is a brave lead female character, not stupid or clumsy, a woman who does not hide behind the power of her family, or even the men in her life. She is willing and ready to put herself in harm’s way to help others; a respectable quality in any individual.

However, it took me a while to warm to KT. The shortness of her name is not explained until later and it has a military, cold feel to it which felt too much like an alias or detective’s name to immediately put me on her side and envelop me into her viewpoint. In addition, her hate for wet human made me feel ostracised from her point of view until I had acquainted myself with her world and mindset.

Peyton Allers is her love interest, a Protectorate (law enforcer of sorts) gone undercover and, to some extent, rogue in order to save members of his species. He demands as much respect as KT for his heroism and bravery and his manly sarcasm can be very accurate and funny, for example his assumption that KT will erupt into ‘inevitable hysterics and demands for protection’ after she is attacked.

The similarities between these two makes them a good match and their reluctance to give anything away first in their dialogue makes them an interesting, dynamic couple with lots of sparks.

Unfortunately, KT and Peyton also represent stereotypes – he is the brooding law enforcement type intent on closing a case due to personal pain and she is a princess intent on surviving on her own two feet. Despite the fast paced plot points and exciting gun battles in this new urban, paranormal world, the book doesn’t feel new because of these stereotypes.

That is not to say the characters aren’t original. Their personalities are not copied and pasted from other books but they are of a type which is familiar and hard to alter to create something truly new.

In addition, I feel their paranormal side could have been dealt with better. There are many stories out there where the animal makes the choice in a Were over a mate and many of these use the term alpha to justify a romantic relationship. I felt something new could have been attempted, or at least the word could have been varied more often so it did not jar as much. This seems to be the main thing their animals had to contribute to their relationship.

Having said that, Ms. Golinowski knows how to craft tension and build it towards major plot points and her writing style is good, with occasional humour and brilliant, sensual description so I fully believe, with more obscure or less typed characters, she can write a novel worth five stars or more. She has the groundwork to be a groundbreaking, page turning writer. The Collector’s Item however, is a well executed and enjoyable bath or bedtime read with one or two surprises tucked in for fun.

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