Rating: 3 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
A little bit drunk and a little bit high, Joe Jacek decided to turn off the headlights of his truck and drive by the light of the moon from his brother’s trailer to his house. When his brother wakes him up the next morning, still in his truck, Joe tries to piece together a pair of glowing yellow eyes, a wolf, shaggy red hair, and a compact body wrapped around him. He can brush most of it off as a dream—a wet dream, as he’s obviously cum in his pants, until he realizes he’s also got someone else’s release on his shirt as well. Certain his dream man wasn’t a dream, Joe searches for both the wolf and the man to no avail.
Diego knew he was taking a risk showing himself to Joe, even in wolf form, but something about the rancher called to Diego. When the man got out of the truck then passed out, Diego shifted to his human skin—maybe just to touch him, to be near him, to feel him for just a moment. And then Joe woke up and gave Diego the most memorable sexual experience of his life and commented on it being a dream. Diego has been a lot of things, but for something that was so amazing for him to be thought of as a dream to Joe was too much for Diego. So after he drove the once again passed out Joe back to his brother’s house, he shifted and ran off, planning to leave the Jacek brothers’ ranch altogether and never see Joe again. But he couldn’t.
Two weeks later, Joe sees the wolf again and, in his pursuit of the animal, runs into the man. The attraction is still strong and the few memories he has are still burning through his dreams. One night, Diego promises himself. One night then he will leave and never look back, but then Joe asks for more. Something about Diego pulls at Joe’s heart and Joe can’t let the man go—not yet.
Diego has secrets that he can’t tell a human, and when his hand is forced, he runs, but he doesn’t get too far before Joe tracks him down. But a funny thing about tracking Diego—Joe followed his footprints until they ended and he saw nothing but wolf paw prints.
Normally, I’m very much the gung-ho type when it comes to all things Bailey Bradford, especially when it has to do with shifters. Her Southwestern Shifters series is one of my favorites. But I’m don’t know that I’m feeling this world as well as I do her other paranormal ones. First off, I like the set up. It’s sexy. Bradford does a great job introducing us to Joe and Diego, as well as turning up the heat and tension between them. So I expected a lot from them and their relationship. I was not disappointed by that at all. Joe and Diego are the best part of this story. Diego is the better of the two, but he has more to work through. Torn down and abused his entire life, Diego finally ran when the fear he’d be killed came a little close to reality. But for an Omega, leaving is not an option, so he’s being hunted by the baddest of the bad and on his route to escape, he meets Joe. Joe is human, through and through, but he’s obviously open to whatever Diego is going through. Diego’s scars speak of brutality so deep, Joe wants nothing more than to shelter him and protect him from the entire world. So here’s where these two characters are—damsel (or don) in distress and his white knight. I kept expecting Diego to turn into a snarky version of himself or grow a pair, but he’s pretty tame and diminutive compared to what I was looking for. Joe, on the other hand, had dominant alpha down pat. The man couldn’t have been much sexier.
The chemistry between the guys is hot. There’s nothing wrong in that department. From the first encounter on the bare ground—which, by the way, ouch for naked Diego—to the second super intense meeting on the living room/kitchen floor to each time that followed, the author advances the intimate relationship between Joe and Diego well, no doubt about that.
My biggest issue is with the world. I’m not a fan of the shifter part of this world, to begin with. First, it seems like there are no real rules. Not that I can see anyway. Diego keeps speaking of alphas, but is there an alpha? And if there’s an alpha, does he answer to anyone? That leads me to the second and probably the biggest issue I have with this world. The shifters—the wolf shifters anyway—seem to be vile, evil, horrible, irredeemable creatures. Cruelty runs rampant throughout the pack, so much so that the alphas kill their own children and the children of the pack. It may be just me, but I had the hardest time reading through that part. I didn’t want to know. I don’t see what it did to advance the story other than paint the shifter world in the worst, demoralizing manner. It was completely disturbing and this story did nothing to redeem it or give hope that there were maybe some good shifters out there, other than the ones who are beat senseless for no good reason.
Then there are inconsistencies that come with separating the shifter world from the human world. Like Diego as a wolf, and especially as an omega, doesn’t really have a lot of contact with humans, yet he makes comment like, “Trent is very in touch with his animal side. All humans are animals in the first place, but most have buried their instincts so far down they don’t understand what those instincts are trying to tell them.” Is this common knowledge among the pack? Or was this something that wasn’t meant to be noticed? There are other things. Like the fact that the pack didn’t have a vehicle, but Diego knew how to drive Joe’s truck well enough to get him to back to Trent’s place after their first encounter.
The author also has a habit of handing out information in this story but not doing anything with it. For example, Axel is a beta in Diego’s former pack. He’s also the beta who almost killed Diego three times and the reason Diego finally left, and he’s one of the betas hunting Diego. So why is he not mentioned at all in the final confrontation? Another example, a femur bone shows up on Joe’s front doorstep and there is mention that it could be Joe and Trent’s mother’s, but it’s not mentioned again. So not only am I disturbed by the way the world turned out, but I’m frustrated with the holes and the lack of information.
Overall, it was the characters and their chemistry that held this story together for me. I’m not a fan of the world at all. And the holes and unanswered questions are disappointing. What’s worse is that I really like this author’s work, a lot, so I’m hoping for more and better soon. Unfortunately, this one is just not one of my favorites.
Note: I’m pretty sure this book is the beginning of a series but I cannot find the name on GR or on the publisher’s website.