The Gathering by Jennifer Ashley

(Immortals, #4)
Paranormal Romance

Five brothers born from aspects of goddess Isis in fourth Egyptian dynasty, warriors battled evil monsters and kept the light-dark balance. One has gone rogue, and tipping the balance. Hunter is called crazy. Leda Stowe sees why after finding the stunning half-naked warrior in her lion's pen - unarmed and completely unafraid.

Though he can soothe the temperamental beast, nothing can calm the desire that sparks through her body at his touch. She wishes they could hide away together on her island forever, but the world thrums with danger. Before Leda can claim Hunter for herself, they must join the other Immortals to face the greatest trial yet - The Gathering.

The fourth book in the series, written by Jennifer Ashley (Book 2 and 3 were written by other authors), explores the life of Hunter, a more fun type of Immortal. The fourth book in the series, written by Jennifer Ashley (Book 2 and 3 were written by other authors), explores the life of Hunter, a more fun type of Immortal. Still hurt by the tragic death of his wife and children some 900 years back, Hunter eagerly beds women he lusts for, spending time with them without emotion. From day one it's clear he's going to have trouble doing that with Leda, an "air witch", but plot-wise the angst wasn't too strong in this department.

The story itself is a fascinating one, with five brothers sharing different goddess mothers, each immortal, each possessing outstanding power and lifeforce. In previous books other brothers have found their mate, all witches with different elements (fire, water, etc.), and of course it is now Hunter's turn. After their time on the island (not terribly interesting all the time), the story picks up as the couple go to find their brother Adrian, to assist in the retrieval of their other brother Tain, who by now has gone mad and on the deep end with a devious demon determined to steal the lifeforce from the world. Yes, a dramatic story for sure, but interesting in several angles. Much is at stake, and fans of the series will be delighted to see all previous characters brought back together for a reunion of sorts. Sadly, because of the number of beings and the time frame, the intriguing personalities of each aren't allowed to shine through so much.

Character-wise Hunter is great fun, with a sarcastic wit, no-worry attitude, an obvious lust for life and fun, but expectantly hampered by past disappointments. His unique way with animals was enjoyable as well, and the lion Mukasa was a blast. Leda was another "good" character, although nothing overtly impressive. There's just something extremely ordinary and off about her. She seemed to agree to the bedding of Hunter too easily, and her fascinating back-story with dark magic staining her soul could have taken a much more powerful direction if explored differently. However, with Hunter's great power I guess it wasn't an obstacle for them, but I still would have liked seeing that as maybe a sub-plot to be explored. There are a multitude of sensual scenes, but the story in no way focuses on bedroom bliss, instead filled to the brim with one bizarre scenario after another.

Sadly, because of the bed-hopping so early on, the romance isn't overly strong. It's just hard for me to believe in such strong connections from the first meeting, and I would have been pleased with a little more excitement in that department. In romance I enjoy foreshadowing and gradual build-up, rather than being granted my present without begging for it first.

On the action and pacing angle, much happens after the first few chapters, almost too much, but it's not a book you'd want to put down for lack of interest. There's clearly much as stake but I never felt the nail-grinding tension I'd like to have. Not sure why exactly, but I suspect it was the odd marriage of so many characters and elements without feeling as serious as it should have. The ending was a wonderfully sweet wrap-up, although a bit too convenient with how it fell into place so perfectly in two pages. Sex scenes are tantalizing to a degree, but nothing that would be worth fantasizing about. Hunter provides the most humor, and when humor's used it's not laugh out loud material, but still enjoyable nonetheless. I recommend this book for fans of the fantastical world Ashley initially created, and while overall the book isn't so memorable you'd remember details a year later, it's still a fun way to pass the time on a rainy afternoon.

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