Bear shifter Ajay Orbin is being held and experimented on, but he’s determined to get free. He doesn’t know how the scientist found out about shifters, but he knows that she’s dead set on doing whatever she can to them. When rescue comes, it is in the form of other shifters. And one of those shifters is Henry McBane. Also a bear, Henry is Ajay’s mate, the one who lied to him, and the relief of being free isn’t enough to dampen Ajay’s distrust of Henry.
Henry was married to a woman when he met Ajay for the first time a year ago, and he made some questionable choices by not telling his wife about Ajay, nor Ajay about his wife. Hurt by the lies and betrayal, Ajay left. But now that Henry’s wife was killed by the hunters Henry had been tracking, he’s able to pursue a relationship with Ajay even though guilt weighs on him. Ajay is more than reluctant to give Henry another chance. But the mating pull is strong, and they have sex. When Ajay learns that as a result of the experiment he’s able to carry children, and that he has conceived Henry’s child, he’s more than shocked. Can these two men sort out their differences and finally have a future together?
Okay. So, a story like this hinges on world building and in this novella, it was somewhat lacking. There wasn’t much information about shifter culture or how it all worked. There were some passing mentions of a Council that apparently led the shifters, and that shifters themselves weren’t known to the general population. But mostly, it was kind of left to speculation. You all know that world building is one of my loves, so to have it lacking here left me with a lot of questions and that pulled me out of the story some.
What I absolutely enjoyed about this story was the way the author attempted to explain male pregnancy. Okay, so I know that sentence sounds weird. But my inner science geek was all over the explanation, and I loved that it was actually a plausible explanation. All right, plausible in the realm of shifters and the way genetic worked. But honestly, this was the part that I was most leery about, and I have to say that the author actually made me believe it could happen. At least theoretically. I’ve never seen it explained quite like this, and for that, my estimation of this book went up.
Other than that, we have two likeable characters who don’t stand out too much. They are well drawn, and I understood their motivation. My heart ached for Ajay and for what he’d gone through, both before the abduction and after. Henry was a big old sweetheart, so even though his choices weren’t the best when he was still married, I found myself ready to forgive him. Not just for his personality, but because I also felt his true remorse. I didn’t feel a whole lot of chemistry from these guys, and I think the plot relied a little too heavily on the fated mates aspect, rather than building their relationship.
So there were some definite quibbles with this story, but overall, I’m putting in the like column. The clever and scientific explanation for male pregnancy gave it a boost for me, and it was a quick read. It’s the first of a series, and I suspect I know who else will be getting a story, which I might just pick up. Put this one on your TBR if you’re a diehard fan of fated mates, or if you’d like to see an intriguing explanation for male pregnancy.