Narrator: Greg Tremblay
Length: 5 hours, 50 minutes
Hugh is the Premier lion shifter in his pride. His life revolves around ensuring the prosperity of his pride. He has a lot of experience as he is over a century old and his power increases with age. Hugh has so much power that his own body cannot contain it all and he relies on a Siphon to carry the burden of his extra power.
The Siphon has been with Hugh for years and the men travel in close proximity, but Hugh has never had a conversation with him. The Siphon remains firmly in the background and is not really seen by Hugh or the other members of the pride. When the Siphon tries to take his own life, he almost kills Hugh in the process. Hugh is outraged and is determined to figure out why the Siphon would go to such extreme lengths.
The two men spend time together and Hugh uncovers a lonely existence for the Siphon who has been kept in the shadows his entire life and does not even have a name. This prompts Hugh to name the Siphon, Johnnie. Hugh must always remain confident and in control in front of his pride, but with Johnnie he can relax and be himself. The men begin to spend all of their time together and they have a special and unique connection. Johnnie is already attached to Hugh and Hugh falls hard for Johnnie.
But there is unrest within the pride and there are pride members that saw Hugh’s vulnerability when Johnnie tried to end his life. Siphon’s are rare and can bring in a price and eliminating the Siphon will also eliminate Hugh.
Leading a large pride, Hugh is busy all of the time. He has been so busy for the last decade that he has been oblivious and has barely given a glance to Johnnie, who in essence allows him to live. Hugh takes care of everyone, often at the expense of his own down time and could have easily benefitted from some office hours. Hugh is so concerned about each and every pride member, yet he never gave any thought to Johnnie who is by his side day and night.
Johnnie is the sweetest, most vulnerable, most well intentioned character I have come across in quite some time. The beginning of the story shows how truly lonely and starved for affection he really is and with good reason. Siphons are rare and as a child he was kept isolated. But his role is important as it keeps Hugh alive. As Johnnie starts to get close to Hugh, he wants a relationship, but Hugh has a pride mentality. The pride members take care of Hugh and the large amounts of testosterone he needs to alleviate and Hugh has never given any thought to what love is…until Johnnie.
The book focuses primarily on the growing relationship between the men. There is minimal world building and how the pride fits into contemporary life or how they sustain themselves is not discussed. The men are also primarily seen in their human form with limited on page shifting. There is a side story with an uprising within the pride, but I never felt that Johnnie or Hugh were in real danger as the pride members in question appeared more misguided and without a solid plan. Johnnie also has special powers that cannot be explained so that has to be taken at face value within the shifter world.
I listened to the audio version and Greg Tremblay did an amazing job, especially with Johnnie. He brought forth Johnnie’s sweetness and vulnerability in all of their facets while equally balancing Hugh’s straight forward and kind of clueless manner where Johnnie was concerned. There was also a clear distinction between which character was speaking and all of the characters voices complemented each other. There were just a few lines were the volume increased on its own and it sounded like those lines had been added on over the finished product, but it resolved itself quickly. Tremblay’s performance really brought this book to life and for me it was the best way to enjoy the story.
Johnnie was an easy story to listen to and held my attention. It offered a bit of a twist on the shifter world adding in the Siphon and the men grow to balance each other out quite well. Recommended for a sweet shifter love story.