Though I haven’t read a Christine Feehan novel in years, I feel like I haven’t missed a thing. This is a familiar repeat of past stories. Bogged down by a dull resolution of the plot and detached characters, Wild Fire is a hefty, dense read.
Conner Vega has returned to the Panama rainforest after a year’s absence on a mission for justice. Imelda Cortez, also known as the Viper, has been murdering local Indians in order to steal their land for coco growing. Recently she’s been trying to run new smuggling routes through the rainforests, working with two rogue leopards to capture local children and force their parents to help her run the drugs. One of the rogue leopards murdered Conner’s mother when she tried to stop a raid on a village. While Conner is determined to avenge his mother and save the children, he hesitates when he finds out that the client ordering his services is none other than Isabeau Chandler, the mate he betrayed. Isabeau is still hurt and furious at Conner’s role in her father’s death, but she cannot forget how much she loved him. She also knows how ruthless and determined he can be, and feels he is the best chance for the children’s survival.
When Conner and Isabeau are reunited, Isabeau’s inner cat grows more insistent for mating as she reaches leopard maturity. Before long, Isabeau and Conner are fast on their way to reconciliation. Meanwhile, the ploy to infiltrate Imelda’s base quickly becomes more complicated as Imelda’s murderous past is exposed.
The relationship between Conner and Isabeau seemed too reliant on the “mating” need and not enough on what they actually feel for each other. Their reconciliation is more based along the lines of – “OMG, I really need to mate with you, so I admit that you are not as wrong as I originally thought.” It was hard to ignore all the rampant lust going around, which I admit was initially quite hot, but the smoldering glances and meaningful touches grew a little old. Yes, I was entertained for a while, but I didn’t see much more development between them. They were not compelling as a team, and I felt detached from their story.
As a character, Conner is a standard Feehan hero: Very alpha, very mate-minded, very full of pride whenever Isabeau doesn’t crumple into a heap in the face of adversity. Isabeau is strangely lacking personality, and in the throes of her leopard lust for much of the book. For someone who doesn’t know about shape-shifting leopards, she copes amazingly well, and I don’t think enough time was given for her adjustment. One second she’s in shock, the next she’s swinging through trees.
At one point, Isabeau is beaten up by a rogue leopard trying to claim her. The violence inflicted to Isabeau in this scene was bizarrely graphic and painful. I did not enjoy reading it, and felt it didn’t really further the story. Even stranger is her reaction to her wounds, which seemed incongruous to the amount of pain the injury should have caused. There are a few other times when brutal acts are described, and I was grossed out. I am not a squeamish person.
There’s not much more to say about Wild Fire. It is interchangeable with many of Ms. Feehan’s books. I stopped reading the Carpathian series because I felt like I was reading rehashed plots and characters – and I can see that her tried-and-true alpha males are still thriving in this series. The plot setting is lush and vivid, and I truly enjoyed reading about the beauty of the rainforest. However, as a romance, Wild Fire borders on porn without plot, and the flat characters make this book less than memorable.