Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
Welcome to the Darque and Knight Rodeo, where you will find demon-possessed bulls, trolls, witches, warlocks, and shifters of all kinds. If you’re paranormal, this is the place for you. Stay with me as we journey through the lives for three couples who all call the rodeo home.
Welcome to the Pack by B.A. Tortuga
Wolf shifter Denver’s twin brother and pack Alpha, Denton, has been killed and Denver is back to take over the pack after years of self-imposed exile. Not surprisingly, some of the pack is against Denver with one notable exception, newcomer Blaine, who aims to help Denver succeed as Alpha.
Blaine is confused because the dynamic is so different with Denver back in the picture, nothing makes sense and nothing is the same. Denver is friends with demons, cat shifters, and even the feared Ghost Riders, appearing to have an in with everyone. He is almost universally liked and after many fights to determine Alpha status, the dissidents appear to concede defeat, but when the opportunity arises, they ambush Denver and Blaine. Add in the possessed bull, Dervish, the one that killed Denton gunning for Denver, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Relationship evolve quickly in shifter stories and this one is no different, bringing together two seemingly opposite wolf shifters. I say seemingly because diminutive Blaine has more strength than the pack gives him credit for. Denver and Blaine together was such fun, dinner at the restaurant was priceless with so much sensory input from the food and mutual attraction just about driving them to shift.
The POV switched from Denver to Blaine and I found it difficult at times to figure out who was speaking, although the flow smoothed out somewhat, and it became easier to follow the conversations. I set aside some societal norms regarding sex since who am I to argue what is normal for shifters? I will say that Tortuga sure makes a strong case towards cat shifters. The whole gang was just wonderful: calm, peaceful, caring and loyal, reminding me of my old cat Boo Boo, well, without the weed, and I don’t mean catnip.
Oklahoma Rain by Kiernan Kelly
Blaze, the rodeo “patch,” may not look like a supernatural, but that is his ace in the hole. A psychic, he can smooth things over with the Mundanes and is critical to the protection of the Darque and Knight rodeo at each new stop. Frustrated by the lack of, well, anything other than disdain, Blaze wishes for what will never be: a visible talent.
Blaze thought everything was going smoothly until after he sets up the protective spell around the latest site in rural Oklahoma, where he discovers a Supe and a scrawny human boy hidden in the apparently abandoned farmhouse. This is an unacceptable complication, and not because of the mysterious supe, Zack, whose telekinetic powers are rare. Surviving on the streets alone was tough, but Mikey needs to be cared for and Zack is just the one to do it. The fact that Blaze is easy on the eyes is a benefit, in addition to the prospect of a steady job. Zack is attracted to Blaze for many reasons, but Blaze’s kindness is the biggest.
Hitch, the troll with attitude, threatens Blaze but powerful Zack deals with the situation. Crazy? Perhaps, but no one hurts his friends. Zack is now worried that Hitch will go after Mikey.
Kelly keeps us wondering who Hitch is going to go after, Blaze, Zack or Mikey. He has a beef with each of them for different reasons. Both men have hidden supernatural talents, which make other supernatural beings mistrustful. The secondary characters are well formed and added the right amount of support to the MC and the story.
Big Bear, Little Bear by Julia Talbot
Ben was enamored with Ozzie, but he was rebuffed in his attempt to initiate a kiss and the same day he was trampled by a horse. A few months later, Ben is back. He can walk again and wants to get back to living his life training horses for the Darque and Knight rodeo, and is hoping for a chance at Ozzie once more.
Ben’s injury has left him heavily medicated, and his bear has been suppressed since the day before the accident. Ozzie knows this isn’t right and plans to remedy the situation. Ozzie may have been adverse to starting something with Ben in the past, but his worries about Ben’s age have diminished and he is ready to claim his Little Bear. Ben’s mom wants him home, however. She misses her little bear and will do anything to achieve that goal.
This was my favorite story by far, not just because bear shifters are unusual, but also because Ozzie and Ben were such a fun, sweet couple and watching them reconnect and come together as mates was heartwarming and demonstrated that you can’t judge a book (or a grizzly bear) by its cover.
I loved how the three stories in this anthology followed different couples within the Darque and Knight rodeo, with the rodeo and a few key characters being the constant thread binding the stories together, with cameos by others. I was also impressed with how the three authors incorporated character traits and behaviors from the characters in each story, as this element added a solid feeling of continuity from beginning to end. I can easily recommend Midnight Rodeo: Homecoming as a fun paranormal read.