5 stars

Ann Aguirre – The Leopard King (Ars Numina #1)

Proud. Imperious. Impassioned. Until three years ago, those words applied to Dominic Asher, the leader of Ash Valley. His family has ruled the feline branch of the Animari for hundreds of years, guiding the pride through perilous times. Unspeakable loss drove him into seclusion, a feral beast nobody can tame. Now he’s wrecked, a leopard king in exile, and he wants nothing more than to die. Fierce. Loyal. Determined. Fortunately for Dom, those words still apply to Pru Bristow, his dead mate’s best friend. She’s had her heart broken too, but she never quits. With the conclave approaching, alliances with the Pine Ridge pack and Burnt Amber clans on the verge of collapse, she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to drag their leader back, before his second can start a war. At best theirs seems like a desperate alliance, but when their mate bond turns hot and fierce, there’s no end to the questions and the doubts. Neither of them expects to fall in love. But sometimes people don’t know what they’re looking for until they find it.
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OMG! I loved this story. I read a couple of different books from the author. I really like that she writes completely different stories each time, story and genre wise, too. She always creates something new and original. And it worked this time, too.

Ann Aguirre created a completely new world and history for her book and it’s an interesting, unique one. At the beginning f the book it’s a bit confusing because she gave new names to the different supernatural races. It took me for a while to figure out which is what exactly. But other than this little challenge we get a pretty solid world building without an insane amount of info dump or overcomplicated explanations.
The writing style is exceptional and expressive. There is a lot of heavy emotions in the story and the feeling simply seep through the pages.

Pru is a shapeshifter who can’t change so she grew up with a lot of handicap and honestly, hardship. She feels useless in most ways to the pack. She doesn’t really have any self-esteem; feel like everybody looks down o her. But during the story it becomes clear that she is the biggest critic of herself and almost every obstacle in her way put there by her in result of her insecurities. Of course all of this just prompted by Slay constant rejection and the way he uses her. In reality what she doesn’t see that she is valuable part of the pack. However her need to prove herself causes a couple of serious problems for her in the story. She is really giving and caring character, quite the emotional person but willing to sacrifice anything if it means she helps others. All she needs is a bit confidence.

Dom can’t get over or more like doesn’t want to get over the death of his wife/mate so he goes into self-imposed exile. However Pru appearance and determination is a wakeup call to him. Slowly he gets back on the horse and takes up his responsibilities again. In the mean time he starts to fall in love with Pru but since he is horrible with words and even worse when it comes to expressing his emotions their relationship starts out in a rocky road.

I loved the way their relationship changed and formed with time and experiences. It was absolutely fantastic how the initial awkwardness is worked into the storyline. They take it head on and talk it out. It’s a new thing for me in books. I think they are absolutely adorable together. The feelings they experience are really stifling and they have to fight a lot of demons from their past.
Beside the amazing romance there are a lot of other exciting and interesting elements to the plot. It’s full of action, secrets, political intrigue, cute family moments and fantastic characters.

I loved this book and I can’t wait for the next one in the series. Also I have my suspicions regarding Slay so I’m really curious about what direction the story will take.


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