Rating: 3.5 stars
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On Tanner’s first day at his new job, he experiences something he has waited 30 years for: he senses his mate. And when he undergoes his First Shift at the next full moon, it confirms for Tanner that he has encountered his mate since coming to Chicago. The only catch is that he doesn’t actually know who his mate is. It is definitely someone he touched that first day on the job, but that is a pretty decent list. And Tanner must find his mate and secure the bond between them before the next full moon to realize both his and his mate’s full potential as wolf shifters.
With the help of his assistant Jon, Tanner attempts to determine which coworker is his mate, but he is getting nowhere and starting to panic. When Jon heads out of town for a family emergency, Tanner panics even more. Because he is pretty sure now that his mate is actually his adorable assistant. Now he must track Jon down, explain that they are mates, and hope that Jon is willing to accept him as a mate before their time runs out.
So this story has a great premise, one that really captured my attention. With so many shifter stories depicting this mate bond where the pair are instantly aware of one another, I found Jaye’s take on things to be very unique. I liked the idea that poor Tanner knows his mate is out there somewhere and has to weed through the possibilities before finding him. So I really liked this concept, but unfortunately the execution fell somewhat short for me.
First off, I guess from the blurb I was kind of expecting a series of crazy dates, sort of lighthearted disasters as Tanner tries to figure out which guy is his. But it doesn’t really play out with that level of humor and Tanner pretty much rules these other guys out immediately. I also found that logically it didn’t all make sense to me. I mean, Tanner works with Jon all day long, interacts with him regularly, and they are good friends. If Tanner (and other alpha wolves) supposedly have this instinct to recognize when they are facing their mate, why does it take him so long to figure out Jon is his guy? They spend far more time together than Tanner spends with any of the candidates he quickly rules out, yet somehow despite this supposedly ability to know his mate when he finds him, it takes most of the month-long period between moons before Tanner figures it out.
There were some other elements that didn’t make sense to me either. First off, Tanner assumes (incorrectly) that Jon is a human, but I have no idea why. The implication is that Tanner is able to tell the difference between people and wolves, so why can’t he tell Jon is a fellow wolf? And Jon knows Tanner is a wolf, can certainly figure out Tanner is looking for his mate, and never once mentions anything to him to indicate he is a wolf as well? Why wouldn’t that have ever come up? It just seemed too contrived to set up this conflict where Tanner is running out of time and must chase Jon down when he finally figures it out, but it doesn’t really make much sense to me. It is also completely clear right fromm the start to the reader that Jon is the one who is Tanner’s mate. It is drawn out, but considering Jon is adorable and the only man Tanner has virtually any on page time with, it doesn’t take a huge leap to figure out he is Tanner’s actual mate despite the set up.
As Tanner is running out of time to bond with Jon, he follows him to Jon’s family home to tell him about the bond and finalize the mating process. Jon (or his family) doesn’t seem all that surprised by this (again wondering why Jon never mentioned anything to Tanner…), but Jon is also wary of moving too fast after having been burned in the past. I think this back story was quite interesting, but I just never felt like it gets developed well enough. We also get a side story where Jon’s mom has been attacked by a sorcerer and is now injured, and it comes back around to a climax at the end. But again, I just never felt like it came together. We learn about the conflict mid-way through the book in a brief comment, then it is ignored until the end when it is time for the big showdown.
So I really felt this story is full of a lot of good ideas, I just think the execution fell short. Jaye gives us some interesting world building and unique ideas. I appreciated her take on the shifter world and how she took things in a nontraditional direction. But nothing ever felt fleshed out enough, or developed enough to fully make sense or really work for me. I didn’t feel a strong connection between the men, the conflicts felt rushed, and many elements didn’t make total sense to me. So I think if you are a shifter fan, or if some of these elements appeal to you, it may be worth giving this one a try, but unfortunately it is not one that totally worked for me.
P.S. Ok, so I shouldn’t pile on, but OMG the mashed potatoes. When Tanner goes through is first shift he is majorly horny. So he rips a pillow, fills it with mashed potatoes, and gets busy American Pie style. This happens with total seriousness and I must have had my mouth gaping open like a fish. Just no. I’m sorry, I have to draw the line at mashed potato humping.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.