When Jack gets called in to be an emergency nanny for five rambunctious wolves, he knows he is up to the job. Jack is a former pack enforcer, and combined with his experience with kids, he knows he can help the family out. Between twin toddlers who are just learning to be human, a mischievous boy and girl who get into all kinds of trouble, and a teenage girl going through her latest shift, Jack definitely has his hands full.
Kenneth is the pack alpha and the kids’ uncle. He took over raising them after their mother died and their father abandoned them. He loves the kids, but between taking care of them and his crazy business schedule, he knows he needs extra help. Miles is Kenneth’s right hand man, and though they have known each other forever and there is an attraction between them, it has always been in the background and they never acted upon it. Now that Jack is part of the family, suddenly the connection between Miles and Kenneth is growing more intense as their feelings for Jack grow as well. Now the three men are on the way to building a real family among them.
I’ll admit, I was on this one pretty much from the moment I heard the title. Then when I realized it was a wolf shifter, manny, menage, well, I was all in. I was hoping for a fun romp, and that is pretty much what this story delivers.
Those of you who know my reading tastes know I am not always big on books with kids. So yes, jumping into a manny book was a bit of a leap for me, but it ended up working. The kids are crazy, yes. There are a lot of them and they are active and all going in different directions. But they are also sweet and loving and kind to everyone. Yes, it is fairly unrealistic that while these children are certainly high energy, they are also pretty much angelic in all other respects. They love being with their family, they love one another, they love their Kenneth, Jack, and Miles, they seem well adjusted to the loss of both parents, and pretty much all they want is to all be together. With the exception of teenager Simone, they are universally adoring of time with their family. In fact, they are so isolated in their Aspen home that they virtually never interact with anyone other than family and staff. So that all takes some suspension of disbelief, but the kids are endearing and the story is sweet. I would say the primary focus of this book is on the kids and the family in general, and Talbot does a nice job showing their connection to one another and how important this bond is to them all.
On the shifter end, the world building felt kind of weak here. What I did enjoy is that this is a world populated by shifters and we hear about all different kinds of shifter animals — the mink triplet bodyguards, the slinky cat IT guy, the ostrich former nanny. I liked that it was a world beyond just wolves. And we get a bit of information about what life is like when the wolves are first born (it takes a few years before they move from pups to human/wolf shifter) and what teen wolves go through. But that is pretty much all we learn about the world they live in. Everyone they interact with is a shifter, but I was never clear if that meant there were also humans out there that we don’t see, and if they existed, whether those humans knew about shifters. We are also told Kenneth is an alpha, but we never see his pack or learn anything about what his role is as alpha. Kenneth hangs with his family, directs his staff along with Miles, and runs his business. But we see him do nothing wolf related. I wasn’t even clear if there was an actual pack, or if his family and staff were his pack. I was also not totally clear why they need so much staff, in particular an entire security team. We are not told about any particular danger these kids are in, but they have full time bodyguards watching them, as well as a huge security team. There are also gobs of full time staff (as well as apparently gobs of money), many of whom live on property, so much so that they have shifts of people working for them and anytime they meet someone they like, they hire them. I just wasn’t clear, other than the fact that Kenneth is apparently quite rich, why they had such an elaborate infrastructure in their home. So again, this part of the story could have used some more development.
The last main element of this story was the relationship between Jack, Kenneth, and Miles. First off, I will say I really liked these guys together. Talbot does a nice job of creating three distinct characters and their scenes together were quite sexy. But I do feel like the relationship takes a way back seat to the family stuff. It is not really a case of instalove, it is more like we just never see anything develop between them. We are told that Miles and Kenneth have had an attraction between them for a while, but we only hear about it in passing, rather than see it. Then Jack and Miles have some sexual tension, they are about to act on it when Kenneth joins them, and then suddenly, the three are mates. There is no official act that seals the deal, they just have sex and Kenneth declares they are his and it is a done deal. We never see one word on page where they talk about their feelings or their relationship or anything at all. I mean, yes, at some point they say they love one another, but mostly they are just suddenly together and eventually in love and that is that. It just seemed like a huge gap in actually showing a relationship building, things just happen and that’s it. The guys aren’t even all together for a good portion of the book as Kenneth is away traveling for weeks (months?) and the other two are home with the kids. Which leads me to the other weird thing and that is Kenneth seems to get sick from an incomplete mating bond (presumably the mating starts when they have sex, but this is never clear). He is apparently away so long that his health is declining. But if they know they need to complete the bond to prevent him from getting sick, why is this never addressed or acted upon? I didn’t get the sense the fact that an incomplete bond would make him sick was a surprise to anyone, yet no one does anything to prevent it.
I will also mention that not a ton happens here. The plot is basically Jack comes, he takes care of the kids, the guys get together, and they are all one big family. There is no real conflict and much of the story is taken up by day to day happenings. We spend lots of time with the family making meals, for example. Or hanging out together playing games or doing homework or watching tv or playing outside. With no real conflict and no real relationship building, this story is really focused on the family connection, as I mentioned. The thing is, despite all these issues, I enjoyed the story and it kept me engaged. It is an easy read, and the characters are likable, the kids are cute, and the guys enjoyable together. So I think this story could have pushed further in many areas, but overall I found it entertaining. If you are looking for a light, easy read with a healthy dose of kids and family, this one is a worth checking out.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.