behind the eight ballRating: 4.25 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | All Romance | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

Cat shifter and beta Heller Wirth hates humans. Though he’s tried to be better about it since his friends Dolf and Tal mated with the human Kirk, he still holds his prejudice. So when Heller goes to pay for his truck detailing and is overwhelmed by the amazing scent of his mate, and it takes him a little bit to realize that Lawson Dupre is human, Heller runs far and fast. He doesn’t want a human for a mate and he’s willing to give up that chance, even if that means being miserable. But when he smells Lawson’s scent on another man, Heller’s base nature comes out. He knows then that he’s willing to overlook the fact that his mate is human and just accept that Lawson is his mate.

Lawson is one of the rare humans that actually know about the paranormal world, having been friends with a pair of Vetala twins. Marshell and Janelle are snakelike paranormals that need blood to survive, and they have been Lawson’s family for ten years. So he’s not exactly surprised when he feels a pull toward the mysterious man, especially once Janelle explains what’s going on. What Lawson can’t understand is why his mate is constantly running from him. When Lawson is threatened, Heller shows up, and the two men finally have a conversation and begin to clear the air. Once Lawson understands what drives Heller’s motivations, and doesn’t judge him for it, the men begin their relationship.

Lawson is a little wary about jumping right in, as he knows once they claim each other, it’s a bond that can’t be broken. They date a little and get to know one another.  t isn’t long before Lawson feels ready to take that step, and Heller and Lawson seal their bond. But Lawson is still being threatened, and it seems like the attacks are because of his relationship with Marshell. The mystery goes deeper than anyone anticipated, and Heller will stop at nothing to keep the man he loves safe.

Okay, this is the second book in the series, and while I think technically it would work as a standalone, I wouldn’t recommend it.  This is best read in order, as Heller played a role in the first book, and we got to see the beginnings of his character there, as well as his ideals start to shift. I think, too, if I didn’t have the prior knowledge, I might have had some issues with the story. So definitely start with Trouble Comes in Threes, and then jump right into this book.

I’m going to start with Lawson, because I just adored the crap out of him. I loved his reactions to situations, his shock and awe or his utter acceptance. The author did a great job portraying a guy who knew a lot about the paranormal world, but wasn’t exactly a part of it. I felt like his thoughts, actions, and reactions were genuine and utterly believable. His acceptance of Heller, his willingness to give the shifter another chance, and his capability of knowing exactly what to say to his mate really rang true to his character. He didn’t have a lot of growth throughout the story, but he didn’t need to. This is a guy who has a good head on his shoulders, knows when to forgive and give second chances, and what to accept as is. Seriously, I liked him immensely, and he made the book for me.

When we met Heller in the first book, he was, basically, a prejudicial prick. There’s no two ways about it. He did some hurtful things, but in the end, he was there when it mattered. The Heller we meet in this book still had some growing to do, but now that we’re in his head and privy to his thought process, we see a very different guy than the one we thought we knew. What he experienced in the past was pretty awful, and it makes sense that he would be extremely distrustful of humans. The author also did a great job about showing us how his bluster and anger were a front, something hiding his vulnerability and insecurity. I really liked seeing him changed as the book started, and watching it continue as the plot went on.

So I loved both the MCs, and I thought the author did a fantastic job with their characterizations. But I did have a few small quibbles with the story. First was the alternating first person POVs. Overall, I think it was done well, and there was always a header at the beginning of the chapter to let us know whose head we were in. And for the most part, I didn’t have any problem knowing whether we were in Heller’s head or Lawson’s. But there were a few instances where I got lost, couldn’t remember who the narrator of the moment was, and kept reading until I could find a distinctive thought or name or something to clue me in. It didn’t happen a lot, but enough that it’s worth a mention.

I have to admit, I had a little problem with the ending as well. One of the major plotlines doesn’t get resolved. Instead, it shifted focus to another character, whom I’m assuming is up next in the series, and as a result, the ending felt abrupt. A bit of a cliff hanger feeling, actually. But the whole end of the book shifts focus as well, as it is a set up for what seems like the next book in the series. This was disappointing only in that it made the aforementioned plot point feel a bit like a contrived device to get Lawson and Heller together. Just a little tiny bit. I think I would have felt better about it if I’d had a little bit more resolution. As it is, the book just ends, and while Heller and Lawson are settled and happy, it still felt a little unfinished.

So this was another good addition to the series, and I’m glad to have read it. I knew Heller would have to go through a lot to get his HEA, and from his very first introduction, I wanted to know what was behind his motivation. So I was really glad to get that explanation, and for him to fall in love with Lawson, who is just perfect for him. A good read, especially for any shifter lovers out there. And I know I’ll be looking for the next one in the series.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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