Rating: 4.5 stars
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Jackson’s mate, Houston, left him several years ago, sure he was ready for city life and not one lived with Jackson in the desert with cactus for neighbors. So Jackson is stunned to see Houston, or what is left of Houston, dragging himself to their front door. His mate had escaped from a government agency doing experiments on shifters, and they are after him. But Jackson hasn’t keep the home fires burning just to let the government capture his mate again. He will fight for his mate and for their land because no one is taking Houston away from him again, not even Houston himself.
Home Fires is a raw, rough story that Tortuga does so well. Here she gives us the bare bones of a horror story. A shifter is kidnapped and taken to a secret compound where he and others were experimented on, tortured, and killed. Tortuga gives us only an outline of the torture and experiments and lets our minds fill in the rest, which ratchets the terror up considerably. What we see are the effects of his capture upon Houston’s mind and body, including a barcode tattooed on his body of skin and bones. He has nightmares and is confused. The vivid descriptions of his present appearance are contrasted with Jackson’s memory of his mate before he left him. It works beautifully to let us know just how bad a shape Houston is in now.
Jackson too is a fierce, elemental man. At home in the desert, he is tuned tightly as a man can be who loves his isolation and his independence. The only thing missing from his life has been his mate and now that he has him back, there is nothing he won’t do to bring Houston back into shape and let him become the wolf shifter he knew. Jackson will also defend them both and keep Houston safe, not an easy thing when the government agents and others are looking for them.
Just as the men are pared down to their core beings, so are the wolves within. Houston needs to be claimed again by his mate and Jackson needs to possess his mate in the most primal of ways. It’s raw, it’s sexy, and at times heartbreaking,
My only quibble with this story is that there really isn’t an end. Some soldiers chasing them are killed in the desert but by others looking for their kin. We never find out what happens to the compound or really to Jackson and Houston. And that was frustrating because these are two memorable characters who make such a huge impact upon a reader, that their story just cries out for some closure for us and for them. With that, this would be a 5 star story instead of 4.5 stars.