Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars
Narrator: Matthew Shaw
Length: 5 hours, 52 minutes
Tim is looking for a fresh start. He worked for years developing vegetable and flower hybrids and his boss took all of the credit for his work. When Tim is offered the use of a cabin in Mad Creek, California, he takes the chance to get his life together once again. Not wanting to trust anyone, Tim’s story sounds evasive and questionable when the first person he runs into is the town’s sheriff, Lance Beaufort.
Lance’s number one priority is keeping the town’s residents safe. The town harbors a secret–many of the residents are dog shifters. With word spreading of marijuana growers in the area, Lance is suspicious of any newcomer and it certainly doesn’t help that Tim reeks of the drug.
When Tim remains evasive of just what he is growing in his greenhouse, Lance knows he needs to investigate further. But with things so tense and awkward between the two men, Lance can’t just go visit Tim in his human form. When Tim accidentally hits a black border collie near his property (who is Lance in shifted form), he develops a bond with the dog. Lance’s inner dog continues to seek Tim out and Lance starts to fall for Tim. But Tim has no idea his new pet is really the town’s sheriff and Lance’s charade is about to come crumbling down around him since he can’t pretend to be a pet forever.
First off, the overall story here is just cute. The town of Mad Creek is an interesting place. There are full blooded shifters, like Lance, and then there are dogs that when bonded to a human can “spark” and become human. It offered a fresh twist to the shifter world.
When we first meet Tim, he is awkward and bumbling. He keeps getting knocked down by life and he is slightly panicked over his financial situation as well as the lingering fall out with his former boss. Sheriff Lance, on the outside, is the picture of cool, calm, and collected, but his one-on-one skills…well not so much. Lance doesn’t shift much anymore and his life is so very serious. The men are attracted to each other at first, but they really don’t know how to talk to each and they stumble from one encounter to the next.
When Lance decides to keep visiting Tim as a dog, he had no idea how attached Tim would become to the dog and how much his dog would bond with Tim. He realizes how lonely and sad Tim is and Lance’s inner dog just wants to stay with him and also wants to come out and play. Lance, in dog form, begins to know Tim so well and finds himself having to hold back when they meet up as humans. It’s a bit sad as you just know that eventually Tim has to find out the truth.
There were two areas that didn’t sit as well with me. The first being Lance’s mother. Her actions were more than a lot of people in town cared to handle and more than I wanted to handle. Even when Lance really gets mad at her, it’s only for a moment with the thought that she means well, it’s all okay, and it’s just the way she is. Her actions were not only over the top, but illegal, and for as by the book as Sheriff Lance was, he made all the concessions for her. The second area was when Tim found out all that had been going on he took everything really well, from knowing that Lance was spying on him in his own home, to the fact that the man he was in love with was also a dog. It didn’t take him long to adjust, accept, and forgive everyone, which just seemed like a quick resolution to it all.
I listened to this book on audio and it did take me some time to get into the flow with the sound and tone of the narrator. His vocals sound much older than the main characters. But, his voice is deep and mellow, and the characters were clear and distinct. The female characters did not sound as feminine, but even so it was always clear which character was speaking. During the intimate scenes, his voice did remain mellow and even, but there was an erotic quality added and even a touch of humor when the dialog called for it. I could have used a couple more beats between chapters as one chapter immediately went into the next. Now when Lance’s true nature comes forth and is inner dog is revealed, Shaw completely nailed it and those moments absolutely made the audio.
The audio or the book version would certainly be recommended. I may lean in favor of the audio for Lance’s sound effects. But either way, this story is a good choice if you like shifters, a slower burn, and an overall feel good story for man, dog, and mate.