See, Trent Pielmeyer has returned from the undead. He was the roommate/hook-up of Logan Connor that got trapped in a nightly ghost war for seven years. Logan and Riley freed him from the macabre torture a year ago, and Trent is barely holding his life together. His homophobic father isn’t pleased to have him home—alive—and claiming his trust fund. He can’t confide in anyone about where he’s been for all this time, and he has no strong friendships. Adrift, Trent runs off to Portland to find Logan and see if they can rekindle their long-past romance.
Only Trent has no idea that Logan’s about to marry Riley. When Trent shows up in Logan’s bar, he’s blindsided. Good thing Christophe is there to guide him through his emotional breakdown.
Christophe is a wealthy, cultured, European man who once dated Riley. He’s in Portland for the big wedding and finds Trent to be captivating. They hook up, but it’s terrifying to Christophe because he nearly shifts into his werewolf form during the act. Only the calming effect he gains from Trent’s touch is able to hold back the beast. Christophe is in a battle of wills with his Old Country father—who insists that Christophe assume control of their company instead of his elder brother, Anton, solely because Christophe can shift and Anton cannot. Their father is also arranging a marriage for Christophe, so he can breed more weres. Worst part? If the mating is successful and a werewolf is gestated, the mother dies at birth. Something Christophe wants no part of, even if he did prefer women—which he does not.
The connection between Trent and Christophe is tenuous. The plot fixes them together in a really interesting way. Christophe wants to bring Trent to Logan’s and Riley’s wedding, but Trent only goes because he’s been completely cut off financially while he’s in Portland. See, Trent’s developed acute agoraphobia and he’s particularly afraid of forests—having been trapped in a haunted forest ghost show for seven years will do that. There’s a lot of tension in the whole scene, because Riley and Trent aren’t exactly friendly—oh, and Christophe is dramatically double-crossed leaving him in his wolf skin for…possibly ever. He’s on the cusp of being hunted down in his shifter form when he’s able to reach Trent and communicate in a way that makes them both stronger. I really liked how Trent grew out of his intense fears on Christophe’s account.
I will mention that there’s a scene here that’s borderline, a situation of dubious consent between the agents of Christophe’s problems. It’s certainly unpleasant, and I felt grudgingly moved on one character’s part. More to the point, I was wholly behind Trent’s heroics, especially because I felt Christophe’s wolf was a dummy. Chasing a sports car and hoping you’ll catch your quarry? Wolf, please. Despite Christophe’s meat-headedness, he’s a hero when he needs to be, and the sweetness of their relationship was plain to see.
I liked that they had real problems to conquer that required cooperation and bravery. The love story in this book was better than that of Stumptown Spirits, in my opinion, because Trent and Christophe each have physical and emotional issues that they need address before resolution. Trent doesn’t know if he’s twenty, or twenty-seven, and trees freak him out. He hasn’t been touched in a compassionate, sexual way in seven years, and each night he dreams he’s being hanged in the ghost war. On the other hand, Christophe is a werewolf. And he doesn’t want to suffer the ill effects of shifting—or suppressing his shift—any longer. Finding a partner who will love him is nearly impossible, and his family’s politics are problematic, at best. So, these two isolated men find a chance encounter so much more than either can discard. I liked it. Nothing like a good hurt/comfort paranormal romance.
The story resolves, but it’s clear the ground is laid for a third book.