Rating: 4.25 stars
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Colt Easton is harboring a secret. He is a varelse shifter; in fact, he is part of a family of the rare shifters. After an attack by a crazed varelse last year, the public has become fearful of all shifters. The government has even begun testing people, trying to seek out those with shifter blood so they can be recorded and tracked. Colt knows getting tested means being outed as a varelse. But he wants a job at a day care center so he can keep an eye on his nephew, a boy who may be a shifter and not even know it. The only way to get the job is to submit to the blood test required for employment.
Dr. Jasper Glen left a successful veterinary practice for a chance to do research on shifters. He has always been fascinated by them, and in fact for years was zealous to the point of fanatical, making mistakes with his former shifter boyfriend he now regrets. Glen thought the research would be a great opportunity. In fact, he developed the test used to identify shifters and is conducting much of his own research. But he is becoming more and more disillusioned as he sees the tests and research being used to harm and control the shifters, rather than to learn about and help them.
When Colt comes in for the blood test, his first goal is to get Glen to throw the test so he has hope of getting hired in the day care center. No one will hire him if they know he is a varelse. He figures getting to know Glen might help with that, but Colt also finds himself charmed by Glen and genuinely interested in him. Colt turns out to be fun, sweet, and sexy, even as he comes on quite strong in his attempts to seduce Glen. There is a clear attraction on the part of both men. Colt loves the fact that Glen is fascinated, rather than afraid of him. He can be himself and not worry he is scaring the man all the time. And Glen loves the opportunity to learn more about shifters and enjoys Colt’s open and friendly personality.
At first Glen has no intention of going through with falsifying the reports, but the more he gets to know Colt, the more sympathetic Glen becomes. Glen’s quick swap of the blood vials seems harmless at first. But tests soon reveal there is something much bigger going on, something that now involves both Glen and Colt. Soon the government is after them and both men are covering their tracks, trying to hide their secret. At the same time, they must still protect Colt’s nephew, especially as he starts to get sick with a shifter ailment his human parents have no idea how to treat. What started off as a small indiscretion has now set off a chain of events that threaten Glen’s research, Colt’s nephew, and both of their lives.
Revealing the Beast is the second book in Summer Devon’s Solitary Shifter series. What strikes me most about this series, and this book in particular, is the really unique shifter world Devon has created. I have read and enjoyed many shifter stories, but often the elements seem mostly the same. Here Devon has created a world that is quite different from any I have read and I find it quite fascinating.
People have been aware of shifters for some time, but they are so rare as to pretty much be a non issue. But these aren’t typical wolf or bear or cat shifters. This world is populated by shifters that are what we’d consider mythical creatures – sassquaches and banders and varelses. Rather than pack animals, they are by nature solitary creatures and shifters tend to be loners and rarely reproduce. So while people always knew they were out there, they rarely encountered shifters and sort of left them alone. Once a crazed shifter attacked and killed people in public, however, things totally changed. Everyone panicked and soon the government began testing to start tracking and recording shifters. Being a shifter is cause for job discrimination, among other issues. Despite the fact that shifters are incredibly rare and most often totally in control of themselves, shifters are now under attack and it is critical they keep themselves hidden.
This story takes an interesting approach and focuses on Glen, a researcher who is caught right in the middle of things. On one hand, he is fascinated by shifters. He wants to learn all he can about them and truly cares about their well being. He took his job so that he could learn more and help shifters. But he slowly is realizing that the agencies don’t really care about the shifters. He spends his days not dealing with patients, but drawing blood and running tests on people who are unwilling and resentful. So we find Glen really torn between wanting to help and realizing he is just a cog in a much bigger machine. This leaves him primed to help Colt out even as he knows he should be reporting the truth about Colt being a varelse. Once his testing uncovers even more secrets, Glen finally realizes he can’t trust the government any more and must take things into his own hands.
The story then takes on a nice suspense angle as Colt and Glen uncover secrets and are forced on the run, trying to stay ahead of those out to get them. It adds some nice excitement to the story and again takes the traditional shifter tale and adds a nice twist. I did feel at times there was too much going on here, however. The main focus is Glen hiding his own secret and going on the run with Colt. But there is also the subplot involving Colt’s nephew and his need to protect him. And then a subplot with a former colleague of Glen’s who may be up to no good but whom they also might need for research help. And then someone else who is out to get them in a plot I am still not 100% sure I understood. So while I really loved much of this suspense angle, I do feel it might have been too much of a good thing as I got a little overwhelmed with it all and had trouble completely following things toward the end.
This story is the second in the series and very loosely connects with the first book. Glen’s shifter ex-boyfriend is the hero from Taming the Bander. I am pretty sure we learn about Glen in that first story, but honestly I didn’t remember much detail and I don’t think you will have any issues if you didn’t read that book. I had no trouble following along even without remembering much in the way of specifics.
So if you are looking for a unique shifter story, I think this series, and this book in particular, are definitely worth checking out. Devon’s take on the shifter world is really interesting and creative and it is especially well developed in this book. Through Glen’s insider knowledge of the research and government angle, and Colt’s rare family history, we get a lot of great world building here. I liked both these guys and enjoyed the combination and paranormal and suspense tale.