Montag is a shifter, though he has no idea what kind. Since he was a child, he has used all his strength to hold back that part of his nature, knowing he is something deadly. He keeps his shifter status quiet as well, though he is pretty sure most folks in town know something is different about him. He is huge and powerful and can smell their fear when he is around. When Montag rescues Kevin and his niece, who were kidnapped by her jerk of a dad and his brother, for the first time Montag encounters someone who seems to have no fear of him. Even better, something about Kevin soothes the rage and the pressure that Montag constantly feels.
Even when Kevin has gotten free of Ray and his brother, the aftermath of the ordeal keeps in him in town for a while. Kevin finds himself attracted to Montag, drawn to him so strongly that the chemistry between the men is intense. And being around Kevin makes Montag so happy he considers letting go and actually being with someone else sexually for the first time ever. He even manages to safely shift, something he never imagined he could do. But Kevin works for the SSU, the organization that tracks and manages the shifters, a group that Montag fears and hates. Not to mention that Ray is still in the picture, threatening Kevin’s niece and sister, as well as spreading stories that Montag is a shifter. On top of that, the men live in and work in different cities. Montag and Kevin are finding happiness together, but figuring out how to make a future together, while staying safe from Ray, may be more difficult than it seems.
Releasing the Shifter is the third book in Summer Devon’s Solitary Shifter series. I continue to find this an interesting series as it takes a really unusual approach to shifters, one I haven’t seen before in the many paranormals I have read. In this case, the shifter world is made up of this solitary, almost mythical creatures. Instead of your typical wolves and cats, these shifters are banders, sassquatches, and vareleses, and Montag seems to be some strange, dangerous creature that he has never even heard of. Some of them are quite deadly, and while most people are aware of their existence, their solitary nature means that the shifter world is kind of shadowy. The SSU manages the shifters, and in the last book we saw that they have begun to test and track them. I really find this world creative and interesting, and I think it gives the series a little something different that makes it stand out from other paranormals. I wish we had a bit more world building in the story; after the last book, this one doesn’t really advance things too much. But I do find this a highlight of the series.
This story starts us out right in the suspense plot as Montag finds Kevin, Kevin’s sister Nancy, and his niece Sassy, being held captive by Ray and his crazy brother. The men have dragged them across the country from Seattle to meet with the local bad guy and basically kidnapped them (or at least Kevin and Sassy — Nancy seems to be somewhat of a willing victim). The first half or so of the book involves the rescue and attempts to evade Ray, protect Sassy, and keep word of Montag’s shifter status from getting him tagged by SSU. I found this part fast paced and interesting, and it is enhanced by some pretty intense chemistry between Kevin and Montag that really builds up nicely.
The problem is, after about the halfway point, the story loses a lot of momentum. The immediate tension is pretty much resolved and not much else happens, so we get the major energy excitement in the first half, and then things kind of fade out. The guys do eventually get together, though it is later in the book than I hoped and we really only see one intimate scene together. This was kind of disappointing because as I said, the sexual chemistry between the guys is crazy, not to mention Montag is a virgin so there is that element to explore. After all the buildup, things felt resolved a little fast between them and we don’t get to explore their relationship and sexual connection as much as I would have liked. There are also lots of plot points that just never get addressed or resolved. It seems pretty clear that these guys are getting their HEA and declarations of love are exchanged. But we get just a bare framework of how things are going to come together and the reader is left to fill in a lot of blanks. For example, we are told multiple times about the major conflict regarding where these guys would live. Kevin lives and works in Seattle and doesn’t like Montag’s small Wisconsin town. Montag needs to be someplace that is mostly away from people and there is no way he can live in Seattle. Yet, the story ends with no resolution on this issue at all and I have no idea how these guys are going to work it out. The book just ends without ever addressing this and many other plot points are also left kind of dangling. The story screams for one more chapter, or even an epilogue, and I actually found myself double checking my kindle to make sure I hadn’t missed something along the way.
We do get a small conflict at the end that does add some tension as Montag struggles again with the shifter side of him. He had locked it away for years, but in protecting Kevin, Montag ends up shifting and surprises himself that he is able to keep control. In fact, from the start we see that being around Kevin calms him in ways he doesn’t expect. I thought this was an interesting concept (though I would have loved to understand why it happens). But then toward the end of the story, suddenly Montag doesn’t seem to have control over himself anymore and is sure he is a risk to Kevin and Sassy. Again, I am not sure why all of sudden the control is gone, and it felt a little too much like an add on to stir up some conflict and give us a chance to reconnect with a character from the previous book.
Overall I am continuing to enjoy this series and think that the creative take on shifters and Devon’s unique world building make it worth the read. This one didn’t work for me quite as well as the first two, but I enjoyed Montag and Kevin together and found their chemistry great. I am looking forward to seeing what else is to come in this series.