Rating: 4 stars
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After being kicked out of his pack for being gay, Cas Maine has been wandering, looking for a new place to settle. He is tired and hungry and just wants to find someone who will accept him. When he wanders into the town of Isherwood, he suddenly finds himself shifting into a wolf without his control, and he has no idea why. And when he gets hit by a car, Cas is rescued by a man that he recognizes almost instantly as his mate, yet Cas is somehow still stuck in his wolf form.
When Finn Webb decides to take Cas home as his new pet, Cas is both overjoyed and frustrated. He can’t stand the idea of being away from his new mate, but of course Finn thinks Cas is just a dog. And without knowing why he is stuck in wolf form, Cas has no idea how to show Finn his human side. But soon Cas meets the members of a pack just outside town, one that is able to explain to him the cause of his uncontrollable shift. Now he just has to find a way to meet Finn again as a person and begin a relationship with the man he knows he belongs with forever.
Even as Finn and Cas find a way to reconnect and begin a relationship together, there is still trouble in Isherwood. Something is preventing the shifting, and someone in town is up to no good. Even once Finn begins to learn about and accept Cas’ wolf status and Finn’s own place within the pack, threats to Cas and other wolves mean that Finn must fight to save his mate if they are going to have a future together.
So there is lots to like in Missy Welsh’s latest offering, and I really enjoyed the set up most of all. With so many shifter stories out there, it is nice to find one with a plot that is a bit different, and there are some elements here that give this one a bit of a unique twist. First off, I got a kick out of poor Cas stuck as a wolf while interacting with his human mate. Cas knows Finn is the man for him, and poor Finn just thinks he found a great (albeit unusually expressive) dog. Cas has no idea how to shift back, and even once he does manage to return to human form, no idea how to “meet” Finn again and get to know him well enough to spring the news that he is not only his mate, but a wolf shifter as well.
There is also an interesting side plot related to Finn’s nephew Kieran. He had gotten involved in a commune, which turned out to be a religious cult, one from which Kieran barely escaped. He now is agoraphobic and still suffers greatly from the ordeal. So Finn’s sister is totally freaked out about the commune just outside of town and doesn’t want Finn to have anything to do with it or the people there. It leads to a lot of potential complications as Finn learns about Cas and the pack and somehow has to explain it all to his sister. I sort of liked this idea, as I often wonder in other books how no one seems to notice these big communes of wolves or think it is weird to find them living together like this. So I found this a clever twist and interesting subplot.
While I enjoyed the suspense angle and some of the issues with wolf politics, I would have liked more time developing Cas and Finn’s relationship. This is a major instalove story; Cas is determined to be with Finn from minute one. And when these two meet as humans they are practically in heat and the relationship goes from zero to one hundred almost immediately. I am willing to deal with instant love and fated mates in a shifter book, but my problem here is that we never really get to see a relationship build between these guys other than seeing them lust for one another. There are so many other things happening in the story that we are told how they feel, but we don’t see much of Cas and Finn together really building anything. So while I really liked these guys both individually and together, I had some trouble really feeling the connection quite the way I would have liked.
But as I said, there is lots to enjoy here. I liked the unique touches Welsh puts on the story and I found Cas and Finn to be a great couple. There is some interesting world building and unusual takes on the shifter lore that I liked a lot and made this story stand out. I’d have liked a bit more time with Cas and Finn, but overall I enjoyed this shifter tale.
P.S. Although they are not listed as a series, this book seems to be in the same world as Welsh’s short story Yours Forever. I never read that one and had no problem at all with this as a standalone (I only realized they were connected when I saw a blurb for the other book at the end of this one). But if you have read that story, the MCs make a brief appearance here as well.