When cat shifters and mates Dolf and Tal are shopping in a hardware store, they both smell the most delicious scent. It takes Dolf a second to recognize it as a mate scent, but as he is already mated to Tal, that doesn’t make sense. Tal smells it too, and it’s only with Dolf’s help that he keeps from shifting right then and there. When they realize it’s coming from a human, the two shifters follow him home to find out where he lives and what his name is, and then return home. They have to get permission from their clowder in order to mate with a human. Dolf’s father is the alpha, and Dolf himself the alpha-apparent, and it takes some convincing on Dolf and Tal’s part to get permission. Shifters are highly prejuidiced against humans, with the shifters’ need for secrecy fueling their wariness. Nothing will stop Dolf and Tal from mating with their human mate, but they’d rather do it with the clowder behind them. But after several weeks, Dolf and Tal get the permission they seek.
Kirk’s life is falling apart. His house is in serious need of repairs and he’s barely making ends meet. With a winter storm raging, Kirk is glad he has a fireplace and goes out to bring in some wood. A black cat sneaks in the door, and makes itself at home in his house. Because of the weather, Kirk resigns himself to letting the cat stay. When Kirk has to go outside again, a white cat sneaks in his door. Kirk is exasperated, but also charmed by the two cats’ antics, and he falls asleep. The next day, when he goes outside again, he slips and falls, hurting his head. He thinks he’s going to die in the freezing cold.
When Kirk awakes, it’s to find two men in his home, wearing his clothes. Kirk is well and truly freaking out, but Dolf and Tal explain that they are cat shifters and that Kirk is their mate. It takes some time for Kirk to understand and accept. After he sees Tal shift, there’s no denying that the two men are telling the truth. And since Tal already bit Kirk, and thus started the mating process, Kirk readily mates with him, knowing that Tal will suffer and die if he doesn’t. He mates with Dolf as well, and the three men spend several days holed up in Kirk’s house, getting to know one another.
But Dolf and Tal want Kirk to come home with them, and the truth is, Kirk has nothing keeping him in his house. He agrees, and the three men head out, moving Kirk in. But it’s not all easy. Dolf and Tal don’t give Kirk all the information he needs about shifters, and confusion has Kirk on edge. Add to that the fact that several people in the clowder are against mating with a human, and things are tense. Kirk is facing a lot of bigotry because of his human status. When Kirk is attacked and is seriously injured, it’s clear someone wants Kirk dead. Now it’s up to the men, the alpha, and the betas to figure out who is attacking and what their motives are, before Kirk or someone else ends up dead.
I came away from reading this book with decidedly mixed feelings. There were parts of it that I really enjoyed, and some others that left me scratching my head. What we have here are three really well-rounded and fleshed out characters, an interesting and mostly believable threesome, and some great secondary characters as well. The plot flowed along nicely, and the pacing was really good. The world building was really well done. The author gave us a fantastic inside look at the shifter world in the book, and I felt I understood it. But there were some aspects that really threw me and pulled me out of the story.
This story is told with alternating POVs from all three MCs. I appreciated this, and I felt that was the only way we could know the entire story. I liked being in each character’s head. Each chapter is labeled to show us whose head we are going to be in, and the characters are different enough that it wasn’t confusing. But my problem came with the fact that Dolf and Tal’s POVs were told in third person, and Kirk’s was first person. While that always made it incredibly clear when we were seeing Kirk’s POV, I had trouble with it. This is a personal preference, but I couldn’t understand why Kirk, and only Kirk, was in the first person. He doesn’t begin the story, though he and Dolf probably share the title of primary storyteller evenly. The shifting tenses pulled me out of the book, because it always took me a little bit to acclimate because I personally couldn’t see a reason for Kirk’s POV to be in first.
What I really enjoyed was how layered and distinct all the characters were. Even going beyond the MCs, the secondary characters felt real and well-developed. This isn’t always and easy thing, and I really liked that we got to know several other characters as well. Dolf is the consummate alpha-type, and he is definitely in charge. He’s very used to being the dominant member in the relationship. Tal is fairly submissive, but I liked that he wasn’t a complete doormat. Tal was a sweetheart, who just wanted to make people happy. But he could also be fierce and protective, and it fit Tal’s personality perfectly. Kirk actually fit into the relationship fairly seamlessly. He was dominant enough to call Dolf on his bullshit and hold the man accountable, but he had a submissive side as well. These three men had wonderful chemistry, and it fairly leapt off the page.
Where my quibbles come in are some of the plot points. Dolf and Tal showing up in their cat form didn’t make sense to me. While the scenes were cute, and Dolf and Tal try to explain their reasoning, it just seemed a bit far-reaching for me. I also had a bit of trouble with Kirk being in the dark about some of the nuances and protocol for shifter life. This, to me, seemed like it was just a plot device for exposition and conflict. The first time, I could understand. But it happened several times, and I found it feeling just ever so slightly forced.
But here’s the thing, even though I had some issues with the story as a whole, I really liked it. This author definitely has talent for crafting a story. This book seems like a set up for a series, and if it is, I will absolutely be on board for reading more. The world building and the characters drew me in and kept my interest, even when I was struggling a bit. For those reasons alone, Trouble Comes in Threes, is worth a read.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.