Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance

The Healing & the Dying is the second in L.A. Witt’s Tooth & Claw series and picks up shortly after the end of the first story, The Given & the Taken.  I reviewed that book here on the blog, and reading the review will provide some useful background on how the guys got where they are now, but here is the quick version…

Levi is a werewolf who was in love with Ian, a human.  Levi’s clan forced them to go through a difficult one year separation to test their mate bond.  So difficult in fact that both men barely survived.  Ian made it through only with the support and love of vampire Darius, who ultimately turned Ian into a vampire as well.  Although Levi forgave Ian for the cheating and becoming a hated vampire, Levi’s clan is still furious and they are now hunting all three men who have formed a loving relationship together.

When The Healing & the Dying begins, the three men are recovering from the latest attack by the wolves.  Levi is the worst off with severe injuries and without the benefit of rapid healing like the vampires.  He is in extreme pain and basically unable to move, risking their safety as travel and rapid escape is difficult.  Levi has lost faith in his clan and the wolf beliefs after the forced separation from Ian and the fact that the wolves are now out to kill him and his lovers.  He begs the other men to turn him, both to aid his healing and to help him separate himself from his old life.  But Ian, and especially Darius, are quite wary.  They know the harsh realities of the life of a vampire and don’t want that for Levi.  They worry once the pain has passed, Levi will regret his decision. And Darius still feels guilt for turning Ian, and is worried about doing the same to Levi.

Adding to Darius’ concerns is that ever since they have been together as a threesome, the men have been on the run.  Darius worries that once the dust settles, there will be no room for him in the relationship, since Ian and Levi were together long before he came into the picture.  Despite the other men’s reassurances, Darius still feels a little like the outsider in the group.

And of course, making things even more complicated is that the men have nowhere to run.  With the wolves after them, their lives are in constant danger.  Yet finding safe harbor for vampires is not easy and the wolves have the clear advantage.  The men must hope that that they can find a way to safety and to finally have the relationship they truly want together.

As with the first story, The Healing & the Dying is quite fast paced and exciting.  Witt keeps us at the edge of our seats as Darius, Levi, and Ian face one obstacle after another, barely escaping with their lives.  I especially enjoyed watching Darius take the lead as he figures out how to get them out of each difficult situation (and was fascinated at his car stealing technique!)  This was my favorite part of the story and I think Witt does a nice job of keeping things exciting and the situations new and interesting.  I do think the book runs a bit long though, and could have benefited from some tightening through the middle.  But overall I found it fun and fast paced.

I also enjoyed the relationship between the three men.  I could believe in their threesome, primarily because each man had developed a relationship with the other two prior to joining together as three.  As a result, the feelings the men had for each other felt real and I could really believe in their love for each other.  The guys are super hot together and I think the physical side of things is kept pretty realistic given that they are often on the run (not stopping for sex as the bad guys beat down the door).  Although the romance side of the story is not quite as prominent as the adventure end, I still enjoyed the three guys together quite a lot.  I also really appreciate that Witt makes them into three distinct characters with their own personalities and behaviors.

As with the first book, faith continues to play a major role.  The wolves are a very spiritual group, and their beliefs about fated mates are what lead to Ian and Levi’s forced separation.  Although Levi went along with it, he has come to realize how these rigid rules and beliefs are the cause of the pain both men went through.  And this belief system continues to cause problems as the wolves pursue them for violating their rules and traditions.  Levi rejects the blind faith that he has followed all his life, seeing the damage this rigidity has caused.  I found this all quite interesting, with clear parallels to other forms of religious zealotry that can lead to persecution or the loss of self in the face of group beliefs.  I think this is handled really well without being too heavy handed.

As I said, my only real issue with the story is that it is quite long and, as a result, slowed down at times for me.  The guys are in and out of danger multiple times in the story and occasionally things dragged a little or seemed repetitive.  But overall I quite enjoyed this one.  Witt can always be counted upon for hot stories with great sexual tension among her characters.  And I felt caught up with these guys as they tried to make their way to safety against near insurmountable odds.  I am really enjoying this series and look forward to the next installment.

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