Golden boy Jake Davis has had a happy life despite losing his parents at an early age. His adoptive parents love him more than any son could wish for. He has a best friend who has been by his side since childhood and on into college. He’s the star quarterback. And the student body loves him. Jake has always suffered pretty bad dreams, but lately they’ve gotten worse—violent, bloody, and scary. He’s also hearing things and smelling things more acutely, something he can’t explain. Then he sees Zak and Jake knows Zak is meant to be his, but Zak—in all his stubbornness—hasn’t gotten the memo.
Zakiya Incekara lost his parents violently before attending college. His nightmares begin after he meets Jake, the boy that seems to be everywhere. The same boy Zak can’t get out of his mind. Zak tries his hardest to avoid Jake, certain nothing good can come of a friendship, much less a relationship with him, but the more he tries, the more Jake comes around.
When Jake’s best friend Casey is kidnapped, Jake hunts down the attackers and, in a shocking move, even to Jake, shifts into a jaguar, putting an end to their plan. Surprisingly enough, Casey is not put off by this. Instead he stands by Jake to the point that he unknowingly talks sense into Zak on Jake’s behalf. After making their first date, Jake and Zak are visited by a family friend and given news that changes their lives.
They were born to a greater cause and spirited away as babies to save their lives, but their time has come and they are needed to save their people. One is the Alpha and the other the Protector.
Protector of the Alpha is the first in Williams’ new series Shifting Needs.
I liked this one. It’s a story of overcoming the odds and choosing your own path regardless of what’s set ahead of you. The romance is a slow build, which is appropriate for the new adult range this story finds itself in, though I do wish there would have been just a tad more speed to it. I wondered at one point if the story was even meant to be a romance with Jake and Zak butting heads for over half of the book. Although once the romance comes into play it’s very gripping. This author puts a lot of emotion and time into the relationship and it shows. The storyline itself is very good. It’s unique—which is a big plus in my book—especially in the PNR genre, although it does lag for a bit after Hakiim shows up. It picks back up though. In a big way.
I’m not exactly where this book is meant to lie on the scale from YA to adult, but if you were to ask me (as I’ve already mentioned earlier), I’d place it somewhere in the new adult/adult range. There is something very coming of age about this story. For Jake and Zak and Casey, they are just finding themselves and their purposes in life. This story is about them accepting that purpose. It comes at a time that is very fickle and all three are just that until they’re not. They grow up and find their paths without realizing it.
The relationship between Jake and Zak is the only thing that may tip the adult scale once in a while. Once they finally accept that they are in fact mates, their relationship gets damn sexy. There’s a lot of deny, deny, deny to this attraction in the beginning, but when they finally give in… man, it’s good. I had a good time with the characters, but I wasn’t exactly clear on Zakiya’s heritage or skin tone. His description is confusing. There’s a comment:
His skin tone looked remarkably like Zak’s.
He’s speaking about one of Casey’s kidnappers, yet when I went back to figure out what exactly Zak’s skin tone looked like, I couldn’t find a description. Nor was there one of the kidnapper. Then there’s the way Zak speaks without using contractions—ever.
“I…no. Of course I was not worried. I had a great time last evening. When I got here, there was dancing. Many men were partnered with me. It was all I could do to pick one to spend the evening with.”
“Away from me, lummox,” he snapped. “I did not give you permission to be in my space.”
It’s not the speech of any college-aged male I have ever met, outside of exchange students.
The build up with Elizar and Kell, the antagonists of the story, is very good, and I was expecting a big spectacular blow up at the end. It was big, but it was rushed. [spoiler]The gladiator-esque fight between Kell and Jake in their shifted forms is so quick. After the torture that Kell and Elizar put the people and Jake and Zak and Casey through, I wanted them to suffer greatly, but I feel like they were defeated a bit too easily.[/spoiler]
Overall, this story is good with the markings of something great. I was satisfied with the way everything played out in the end. I just feel like the journey getting there could have used some work. That being said, I am very much looking forward to the next story, which was set up quite well in the epilogue.