Irwin Stephens is a zoo keeper and his best friend Atticus has a secret — he is a bird shifter. Irwin has kept Atty’s confidence, but now the zoo has been keeping his friend drugged because he is not cooperating in being mated. Irwin is worried about Atty and doesn’t know where to turn. While looking online, he stumbles upon a web site for Undercover Peckers, an organization that seems to offer help to avian shifters. Irwin is worried about exposing Atticus, but he takes a chance and gives them a call.
Jay, the leader of the Undercover Peckers organization, immediately offers to come to Irwin’s aid and flies to Australia with some of his friends, including Mickey. Mickey is a masked booby shifter, and a thief and con man. They need his skills to help break Atticus out of the zoo and get him to safety. Irwin is attracted to Mickey, and the two men even have a hot night together, but Mickey’s sudden coolness afterwards puts Irwin off. But Mickey has own demons in his past that make it hard for him to open himself up to anyone. Irwin definitely likes Mickey and Mickey recognizes Irwin is his mate. He now must be brave enough to take a chance on sharing his true self in hopes of a happy ending with his man.
Masked Booby is the third book in the Undercover Peckers series. These stories are fun, clever, and a bit silly. You can probably figure that out just from looking at the author’s name (read it out loud fast if you don’t get it at first). The stories are full of bird puns, silly humor (the MC is an Australian animal lover named Irwin Stephens, a play on Steve Irwin), and crazy situations. What I enjoy most about this series is that is just good, light entertainment. There is nothing angsty or heavy or intense here. The stories aren’t meant to be taken too seriously. But they are a nice fun break from a more intense read and I always find myself entertained.
The series follows Simon, who is mated to a jaybird shifter, and who has started the Undercover Peckers as a refuge for bird shifters in need. This story reunites us with Simon, as well as with Louis and Sebastian from Cockstrut. Although I think you could easily follow the plot here without reading those books, the characters do make a significant appearance in this book. I like the way the series carries the overarching idea of the organization and how they step in to help out different shifters. I also like the way the authors works in the various bird traits to the characters and makes the different breeds fit with their personalities (I say authors because Hoff is a pen name for a writing team).
We have met Mickey in past books and I was looking forward to his story. The authors do a nice job explaining his backstory and how it shaped his personality. I think the switch from removed and holding Irwin at a distance to ready to claim partnership happens way too fast and it isn’t particularly clear what prompts Mickey to change his mind. I also think we don’t get enough time with these two guys together. Aside from their night together, they are apart most of the book. So even though I was fine with the instalove (another hallmark of this series that the authors are clear about in the notes at the start of the book), I felt like we barely saw them together. The story also ends kind of vaguely. After all the build up, we never see Atticus broken out of the zoo, nor do we get much resolution on what happens to him (it’s all off page). It’s also not particularly clear what the future holds for our MCs, other than presumably some sort of relationship (the guys live on different continents).
Masked Booby is pretty much exactly what it sets out to be — fun, easy, entertainment. I like that the authors take a light tone, but still manage a lot of cleverness and creativity in their storylines and the set up for the series. If you want something nice and easy with some silly humor, this story is a good one to try.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.