united and dividedRating: 4 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novel

In this final book of L.A. Witt’s Tooth & Claw series, we find Darius, Levi, and Ian continuing to run for their lives from the wolf clan who wants them dead.  To catch everyone up from previous books, Levi’s wolf clan insisted that in order to take human Ian as a mate, the two had to go through a bonding ritual followed by a heart wrenching, year-long separation.  When Ian returned to Levi at the end of the year, he had not only formed a relationship with vampire Darius, but also been turned into a vampire himself.  This left the clan furious at Ian for disrespecting their ritual, angry at Darius for turning Ian, and mad at Levi for choosing Ian over them and later allowing himself to be turned into a vampire.  Ever since, the three men have been on the run for their lives, trying to find safe harbor and stay away from the wolves who seek their death as retribution for their perceived sins.

On one hand, the three men are bonded more than ever.  Each one has developed a strong connection with each of the others, and they love each other fiercely and are completely dedicated to one another.  All they want is to be left alone to live their lives together.  But the constant running is taking its toll and the men never feel safe for long as they continue to seek refuge in Alaska.  Each time they think they may have found safe harbor, attacks come once again that send them fleeing.  Things are further complicated by the fact that Darius and Levi are both not only vampires, but wolves as well. That means they can’t feed off of a human for fear of turning him, and their only potential food source is from fellow wolves.  Even with the help of a few sympathetic wolves, most of the clan want them dead, or at the very least out of their community.  As the wolves close in, Darius, Levi, and Ian find themselves with few places to turn, and they must hope they find a place of safety before it is too late.

So I have really enjoyed this series by L.A. Witt and found it a unique trilogy. First, it is somewhat unusual in the world of menage because of the way these guys meet.  Each of the men forms a relationship with each of the others somewhat independently — Ian and Levi first, then Ian and Darius during the year-long forced separation, and then Darius and Levi as they try to rescue Ian in the first book.  It means that each men has a true connection with each of the others before they form their threesome and creates an interesting dynamic to their relationship. I find these guys really sweet  and sexy together, and think Witt does a great job of giving them distinct personalities, something that is not always easy with three characters to manage.

This series also has a unique take on shifter lore, something that is not easy to come by with so many paranormal books out there.  Here we see the downside of that traditional pack structure with autocratic leaders who make all the decisions for everyone else.  Levi’s clan is led by a group of Elders with absolute power, which is not that uncommon in shifter stories.  But in this case, we see the consequences when the Elders are wrong.  They are so focused on their rules and traditions that they can not stop and think about whether these guys actually deserve punishment.  But there can be no discussion or standing up to them, their word is law.  And when they decide the men are guilty and should die, the pack is determined to enact that vengeance.  Related to that, this series also has an interesting perspective on mates, something that spawned all these problems in the first place.  The Elders determine proper mates based on the idea that you are to be reunited with the one you mated with in past lives.  When Levi is matched with a female mate, both he and Serena know there is no way they can be happy together.  Yet the Elders are determined to follow the clan dogma and see them together. And even when they agree to let Levi mate Ian instead, they set the guys up to fail, leading to Ian’s cheating and the whole snowball of problems.  So I found this to be some unique world building and a nice alternative to many of the standard shifter themes, especially as it led to a lot of suspense and excitement throughout the series.

So I love the set up here and have really enjoyed this series. For some reason, however, this last book fell a little flat for me.  It didn’t quite have the same intensity of the relationship development nor of the suspense elements as the other two.  The first book really sets up the conflict and we see the building of the love and connection between the three men.  And the second story is non-stop thrills and chases as these guys are fleeing for their lives, with narrow escapes and high suspense and action.  But here the relationship is already solid so we are not seeing a lot new among these guys. They are sweet and romantic and sexy for sure, but not much in the way of growth.  And the suspense elements weren’t quite there either for me.  Yes, they are still running for their lives, but there is a lot of get somewhere, relax temporarily, realize the bad guys are about to get them, flee again, then repeat.  I guess I wanted more excitement and more energy from this last book, and definitely some more from the climax.  After setting up this impossible situation, it gets resolved in a manner that made me wonder why that wouldn’t have worked ages before.  So nothing bad here, but just not as much intensity as I would have expected at the end of a series that was so thrilling.

Still, I did enjoy this one and totally loved the series.  If you have read the first two books, there is no way you are going to want to miss this one. And if you haven’t started it, I can definitely recommend this trilogy as an exciting and fun take on shifter and vampire lore. It is creative, suspenseful, sexy, and very well done.

P.S. In case it isn’t clear, this is basically one long, continuous story, so you definitely want to start at the first book in order to follow along and catch it all.

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