Rating: 2.5 stars
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Sullivan “Sully” Ward is heading off to college, full of excitement and ready to try new things, a true small town boy come to the big city. Sully lands in Texas, San Antonio to be exact, ready for life as a student at UTSA and to see what life in San Antonio will hold for a young, inexperienced leopard shifter. And it isn’t long before he runs into trouble in the wrong side of town and ends up saving a young hustler named Mando. Mando is under age, just another teenager thrown away because his parents didn’t want a gay son. As Mando reminds Sully of his younger brother, Sully takes him into the awful apartment he rented online, feeds him, and decides now Mando has a home with him.
When Sully talks to his parents back home, his story stirs up concerns that Sully is in over his head so his parents contact Bobby Baker, the wolf shifter brother to Josiah, pack alpha and mate to Sully’s cousin. Bobby and his pack live in San Antonio. All Bobby has to do is check to make sure Sully is fine and that Mando isn’t a trouble maker. But from the first meeting, it is clear the trouble is not from Mando but from the fact that Sully and Bobby are mates. Sully is ignorant of the effect it has on the partners who have found their mates, but Bobby isn’t. He knows Sully is his mate and it scares him enough to send him running after a bout of intense sex, especially for a virgin like Sully.
To make matters worse, there is a psycho stalking Bobby’s pack and an arsonist loose setting fires in Bobby’s clubs. And they both appear to be targeting Bobby and anyone Bobby loves. Bobby must come to grips with his destiny and accept Sully as his mate and soon. Sully and Bobby have an arsonist to track and in a horrifying turn of events, an attack to revenge.
Out of the seven books of the Leopard’s Spots series, this is the worst by far. Bradford is getting farther away from the unique elements of this series, that of the Leopard Shifter history, their interaction with the Amur Leopards, and the mystery of a group of people intent on drugging and experimenting on them. None of that is even mentioned here as we track back to the wolf shifters of Texas that are attached to the story via Josiah and Oscar (Leopard’s Spots #2). But that is the least of the problems here.
Bobby Baker was introduced in the last book and he was an exciting, exasperating character. I would have hoped that if Bradford was going to abandon the Amur Leopards, at least we would have a good book out of it. But instead we get a book that is 5 percent promise, mostly because of the character of Mando, the vulnerable, underage hustler Sully has taken under his wing and his “brother like” relationship with Sully. Those scenes were charming, endearing, funny, and held out the promise that the rest of the book would be of a similar vein. Not so as the remaining 95 percent focuses in on the mate relationship between Bobby and Sully. This turns out to be much less affecting as they have little chemistry as a couple, and Bobby spends most of the book fighting his role as Sully’s mate. His club is literally burning down around him, a person close to Sully is heinously attacked by the nutjob stalking Bobby, and the two of them are having ridiculous amounts of sex and paying no attention to anything else. These two act in such an irrational manner that the reader’s frustrations almost exceed the amount of sex they are having.
Finally, most of the goodwill this book generates is destroyed in a grievous attack on a character we have come to adore. Mostly because it seems superfluous to the rest of the action going on and the depth of emotional and physical destruction visited upon this person is really unnecessary. It really seems such a waste of characters that had such marvelous potential and a mess of a storyline that was resolved far too quickly for the buildup and really made little sense.
I will probably stick with this series because I can’t believe it can get much worse than this. But like a TV columnist says in his intro, “I watch these shows so you don’t have to.” I will just say I read this book so you don’t have to. And trust my word, you really don’t want to read Sullivan.
Here are the books in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and the situations. Links to the reviews for all books in the series are available here.