Phillip Twohands is a thief. He takes a job to steal a kachina—the ugliest kachina he’s ever seen—and uses his weremountain lion form to do it. But the alarm goes off and Phillip flees right into the path of a werejaguar. The jaguar, Daniel Hernandez, wants the kachina as well, and both men are only stopped by the sheriff. Shannon O’Flaherty is a wereowl, and also an enforcer as well as the law in the small town. He knows he can’t expose the other two men, so he takes the two thieves back to his house and makes them a deal: if they help him recover the stolen item, then he’ll let them go. Phillip and Daniel can’t pass that opportunity up and they agree.
Right from the start, the connection between Shannon and Daniel is strong, and the two have sex that first night. Unbeknownst to either of them, this starts the bonding process. Daniel’s personality starts to change; he becomes less of an ass and more caring. And as Shannon gets called into the office to deal with some dead bodies, Daniel worries about being separated from the man. But while the bond between Daniel and Shannon is growing, both men are also drawn to the younger Phillip. When Daniel and Phillip act on their feelings, their cats react to one another and come to the surface. When Shannon is added to the picture, all three men start bonding.
But there are more dead bodies piling up, and there are few clues to go on. It’s only after the mage, Wilson, returns home and explains about the kachinas that they understand truly what they have gotten into. The animal spirits tied to the kachinas are powerful indeed, and they want out so that they can once again rule the world. If the evil alpha who hired Phillip to steal the ugly wolf kachina in the first place manage to release Wolf, he’ll have dominion over all weres. And that is not something the men can allow. Working together, they try to stop the worst from happening. But even if they manage it, they will still have to deal with the aftermath.
All right. I find myself a little at odds, not quite sure how to write this review. Because the premise of this story was strong and intriguing. And there were moments where the plot really shined. But I also thought it was bogged down in exposition and details that weren’t explained well enough. So I’m definitely having mixed feelings about this book.
Okay, so here we have three very different guys who are brought together by a theft. Phillip kind of fell into thievery because of his ex, and because it’s easy, keeps doing it. But at his heart he’s a sweet guy who doesn’t really want to hurt anyone. Daniel is a jerk, and does his best to cultivate his bad boy image, and is a thief for pretty much the same reasons as Phillip. And then there’s Shannon, a man who upholds the law both in the paranormal world and in the human one. He’s the epitome of what a lawman is supposed to be. When he realizes who he’s dealing with in Phillip and Daniel, he puts on his enforcer hat and leaves the Sheriff’s hat behind. I could make this leap with him. The first few chapters made a lot of sense. But then, Daniel crawls into Shannon’s bed and I started to get a bit confused. I couldn’t see the connection between them, and so I couldn’t quite understand what drew the together and changed their minds so quickly. The same happened with Phillip. No chemistry between the guys, so I had to take what they were saying they were feeling as the truth. It made the romance aspect fall short for me. So even though I liked all these characters, and thought they were well drawn, I personally couldn’t see them together. The whole mates thing seemed contrived and was underexplained. I didn’t understand why things worked the way that they did and I would have liked a better description and world building here so that it made more sense.
The other thing that I had a trouble with was that this story was just filled with exposition. Thankfully it wasn’t info dump after info dump. The author was good about crafting it into the story. But I often felt like what the characters were thinking or saying was only there to explain things to the reader. So after a while, this got a bit tedious, and I found myself skimming a little bit in the longer passages so I could get the gist of what was going on and move along to the action.
The action is where this book absolutely worked for me. The way the mystery (though I use this term loosely as it’s not quite right) behind the kachinas was unraveled at exactly the right pace and with just enough ingenuity that it kept me guessing. There were characters that I was no sure whether they were good or bad, or something in between, and I liked the unexpected feel of it. Following along, I couldn’t wait to discover all the little bits and pieces. The action moved the story along perfectly. I even liked that after the big build up and the big battle, we got to see the characters dealing with the aftermath. Though I did have some questions there I would have liked answered, for the most part, having those ending chapters really gave the book a complete feel and I appreciated it.
So yeah, as you can tell, I was straddling the fence on this one. There were parts I really liked and some others that left much to be desired. I’m a fan of this author, and I admit I expected a bit more than I got. However, the parts that worked, worked really well, and that definitely redeemed this book somewhat. I would say that if the plot and premise intrigue you, I’d give this one a go.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.