Bear shifter Blake Hayden has long been a loner, having left his pack because of their antiquated ways. In fact, he doesn’t approve of most traditional thought that is pervasive throughout the shifter community. So Blake steers clear of other shifters whenever he can. But when his bike is in need of necessary maintenance, he has no choice but to stop, even though he’s approaching Moonvalley, a territory full of notoriously private shifters. Blake is just entering the outskirts of town when a white wolf tears out of the woods and straight into his path. Blake knows right away that the wolf is a rare male omega, and he convinces the scared wolf to shift. Jake Winters is sassy and flirty, and though Blake isn’t quite sure why, he lets Jake under his skin.
Jake sees Blake as an opportunity for protection. Since his boyfriend died, he’s got no one to look out for him with the rest of the pack. He’s at the bottom of the pack, and most everyone thinks they can treat him like crap and that he’s only good for breeding. Jake needs Blake to keep him safe, even if it just temporarily. But the two men are drawn to one another, and Blake agrees to a date. When he sees just how badly Jake has things, Blake is more willing to help. Not to mention he’s beyond attracted to the wolf shifter. When an accidental mating happens, both men react badly. But that puts Jake in grave danger and Blake has to get his head out of his ass if he hopes to save his mate.
There’s something to be said for this kind of story, where you leave logic at the door and settle down for a total fantasy-filled tale. I admit to having a weakness for shifter stories of any stripe, and I liked to suspend disbelief to just jump into this world. For that kind of story, this novella definitely delivers. What you see is what you get, and it’s an easy romp into a shifter tale.
The characters are exactly what you would expect from the blurb. Blake is a dominant bear shifter. He’s big, brawny, and tattooed. He’s a loner who wants to be left alone. But when he meets Jake, even though the man is cheeky and sassy, he recognizes that Jake needs help and protection. I liked that the animal instincts and the human ones warred within him. And I liked that the author made me fully understand how those two halves want different things and think differently. Jake, too, had his moments where he shined. His attitude was a front, his need for safety driving everything. While there wasn’t anything particularly complex to the characters, they had layers and a bit of depth that kept them from feeling like caricatures or one dimensional.
The world building was pretty lax here, and since I went into this story ready to just go with it, it only bothered me a little. I had more questions than I liked, and some things weren’t revealed until rather late. I definitely would have liked a bit more explanation about how packs and interspecies relations worked. I had no idea the world at large knew about shifters until a random throwaway line. So this lack bothered me some, but I wasn’t overly upset about it. The plot as a whole is pretty straight forward and predictable, so it worked well enough.
But that’s not to say that this novella was without problems. I definitely had issues with the story and it was mostly down to the editing. As in, I wondered if anyone had given this more than a cursory glance. There are occasional tense shifts that really threw me out of the story. It’s told in alternating first person past tense, and that worked just fine as both characters were easily identifiable. But when there are random sentences suddenly in present tense, it’s going to catch my notice. There are a couple of consistency errors that bothered me, where things and appearances altered from one sentence to the next, as well as random name changes. The pub having a different name might have been forgiven if, in the same scene, the main bad guy didn’t suddenly also have a new name. Context was the only clue I had to know who they were talking about, and he’s referred to by his new name—Cody—several times before suddenly being back to the first name, Billy. The occasional typo is forgivable, but this kind of thing isn’t.
So I liked this story for what it was. It was engaging enough to keep my interest and a quick read to pleasantly while away a couple of hours. But I wasn’t overly impressed with the plot, and the editing inconsistencies and errors really pulled me out of the story. I’d tentatively suggest this one for anyone who is a diehard fan of shifters and mates, and mentions of mpreg, but everyone else might want to give this one a pass.