Rating: 4 stars
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When Jacks Dowd heads to Montreal for spring break, he is looking for a little fun time away from college with his friends. But one night when drunk and stumbling through a local park, Jacks meets Benoit, an alluring drifter who Jacks finds himself drawn to despite knowing better. Jacks’ weekend away turns into a week holed up having sex with Benoit, avoiding his friends, and immersed in the attention and the feeling of being wanted for the first time. Part of Jacks realizes this is not a good idea. He hardly knows Benoit, even after a week together. And he recognizes something is off with the man, something dangerous. But he also can’t help himself. And the night that Jacks is supposed to finally go home, Benoit reveals the truth about himself: that he is a cat shifter and he wants to make Jacks one as well.
Three months later finds Jacks and Benoit living in New York City. Jacks still recognizes there is something unhealthy about their relationship. It is not a real partnership, and there is still that edge of danger to Benoit. But Jacks is also under his spell, learning to be a werecat and caught up in the intensity of the relationship. But as Benoit gets more out of control, Jacks begins to realize that it may be time to separate himself from this man he has grown to love. But breaking things off with Benoit has never been something he can do. And as he finds his inner cat side getting stronger, Jacks must figure out whether his future is with Benoit, or if he can break free of the connection once and for all.
So The Rearing is the first book in a new series by Andrew J. Peters and it is really is a set up book for the larger story. Although the book blurb focuses on Jacks’ time in Montreal, the book actually jumps back and forth between the men living in New York City in present day, and their time three months prior in Montreal. So we know from the start that Jacks becomes a werecat, but the details of how his relationship unfolded with Benoit and how he came to be a cat are slowly revealed. At the same time, we see them in the present as Jacks struggles with his new identity as a werecat and his relationship with Benoit. We can see all along that things are not healthy between them. And Jacks knows it too, he just can’t break himself free of it.
I think Peters does a nice job here helping us understand Jacks and the allure of Benoit. Jacks has a disinterested family who are pretty much over him now that they have found he is gay. And Benoit gives him that feeling of being wanted, that total and complete attention that makes Jacks feel special. Part of him senses things are off, but that part is swept aside in a haze of lust and the comfort of belonging. And once in New York, Jacks continues to be isolated, having only one friend in a local bodega clerk. Adding in Jacks trying to understand the creature he has become and the life that he now lives, and Benoit becomes a lifeline he can’t break away from.
As I said, this first installment is really a set up story and not a romance. Peters does a great job giving us the foundation for the series and helping us to understand Jacks and the struggles he faces. The book manages to feel pretty compete, while at the same time leaving the story with lots of places to go. I am definitely intrigued by this one and really interested to see where this series goes. So well done and I will definitely be looking forward to more.