jay walkingRating: 4 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novel

After losing his temper a few too many times, undercover officer Jay Azure has just been reassigned to the worst possible job: a jay walking sting.  But when he catches an attractive man cutting across the street without a cross walk, Jay’s luck seems to be turning.  He ends up giving Simon Spoonwell a ticket, mostly so he can learn the man’s name and address. Yes, Jay realizes that it is quite stalkerish of him, but something about Simon is making him crazy and he must know the man.

Simon is outraged at the ridiculous (and absurdly expensive) ticket, and even more annoyed at the arrogant, obnoxious cop who gave it to him.  An avid bird lover, Simon takes a break out in the woods to clear his head when he sees a blue jay dancing and preening in front of him.  Simon is charmed until the jay gets injured, and Simon can’t help but bring the little bird home to treat him.

Simon has always held out hope that the ancient stories about bird shifters were true, but that doesn’t stop his shock when the blue jay he rescued turns into a man.  Even more surprising, it is the man he hates, that arrogant cop who gave him the ticket.  While Jay is convinced Simon is his mate and they are meant to be, Simon is much more wary. He can’t stand Jay, and after the pain of losing his parents, Simon isn’t so interested in risking heartache.  But Jay is determined to show Simon there is more to him than his brash and arrogant side.  Both men need to put aside their fears and take a chance on love and finding happiness together.

Jay Walking is a fun, light story that is told with a bit of humor and a little wink along the way.  We know right away when we meet our hero, blue jay shifter Jay Azure, that we aren’t meant to take it all too seriously.  There are plenty of bird puns and some silliness, like the major jay walking sting operation Jay is forced to head up.  At the same time, we also get the story of two men who are both emotionally bottled up and see them find happiness together. For the most part, I think the book balances the humor and the more serious side well, though at times I think it wasn’t totally clear which side the book is intended to fall on.  But overall, I think the combination works well and the story is fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

I am a big fan of enemies to lovers stories, so I really enjoyed the set up between these two men.  Simon totally hates Jay immediately.  Jay is brash and arrogant and pushy.  It is not only that he gives Simon the absurdly high ticket, it is the way he struts around so entitled and overconfident.  We know that Jay’s behavior is masking his loneliness. As a bird shifter, he is totally isolated, with few friends and no family. As the story goes on, however, we really see his softer side.  He is determined to be with Simon, but he also takes the time to show Simon how he feels and how much he wants them to be together.  Simon, for his part, his wary of a relationship after the pain of his parents’ deaths. He felt their loss so strongly that he is afraid of more emotional attachments.

The two dance around each other as Jay tries to woo Simon, often failing miserably in his attempts.  I loved Jay in bird form trying to attract Simon in the woods. He is dancing around, shaking his tail feathers and preening for Simon, all while Simon watches boggled at this bird’s crazy behavior.  It is kind of adorable, and even more so when it ends up yet another misguided attempt to win Simon over.  So I enjoyed seeing this gruff guy trying everything he can to woo his mate, and the ultimate act that finally earns Simon’s willingness to give it a shot is sweetly adorable.  I’ll warn you that this is shifter mate instalove for sure here.  Jay is all over Simon immediately and ready to declare eternal love after a day or two.  Simon is a little more resistant, mostly because of his dislike of Jay, but once he falls, things move very fast for these guys.  So we don’t get a lot of development into their relationship or what makes these men work together, other than a mating bond and shared love of bird puns.  But I think given the tone of the story, it all works pretty well.

In addition to the enemies to lovers element, this story also caught my eye for the non traditional shifter element.  As I have mentioned, the puns and the bird themed humor are pretty prevalent.  And we do get some sense of Jay as a bird and a little hint of the bird shifter world.  It is not really as well explored as I would have liked, however.  Jay doesn’t inhabit his shifter self the way we often see in these types of stories, so while we see him in bird form, we don’t really feel what it is like for him.  But it looks like there are more stories set to come in this world and we definitely leave off with the idea that Jay and Simon are going to be looking for other shifters.  So I think more will come here to flesh out the world building and I am really looking forward to seeing where the series goes.

So overall I thought this was a nice bit of fun.  There is humor and lightness to the story, with a nice underlying enemies to lovers romance.  It is a quick and easy read, and one that I enjoyed.

P.S. Ok, I will admit it. It took me until the very end of the book when I read that this is the pen name of two authors before I got the pun on the author’s name, Jacques N. Hoff.  And yes, I am a child and I giggled.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

jay signature