BeastRating: 3.75 stars
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Length: Novella

Years ago, a rift opened between two worlds: Ours and Theirs. Creatures from another dimension came pouring into Earth, beings with fangs and claws meant to rend and bite, creatures who could change shape, mimicking humanity… but only on the outside. Some called them demons, some called them monsters. Neither were right, neither were wrong.

Kane is one of the monsters who came from that dark and other world, but something in this new world called to him. Something in this world… changed him. When he saw a pack of his own kind tormenting a helpless human child, something in Kane snapped. He attacked his own people to save a human, and was forever cast out. A pariah, an exile, he had little choice but to turn to the humans for assistance as he fought for a new life on Earth.

Now, years later, Kane is a respected member of the Demon Investigation Department (though respected might be the wrong word), a new arm of the FBI in a world where magic and monsters mingle with science and humanity.  He has, yet again, pissed off another would-be partner by, well, pissing on him. For all that he’s a hellhound, able to take the form of a creature similar to an Earth dog, Kane didn’t like being called Fido. He really didn’t like it.

Called into his boss’ office, Kane meets his new partner, Al. Al Barker. The jokes practically write themselves. Unlike Kane’s past partners, Al actually asked to serve in the DID and asked to be Kane’s partner. There’s something like hero worship in the young man’s eyes. He knows almost as much about Kane as he does himself; he’s read his file, watched his interviews, tracked his career… and is now working as his partner. Add to that, Al isn’t afraid of Kane’s true form. When Kane shows him the hellhound inside the man, Al is delighted, not disgusted.

It makes Kane feel… strange. Protective, happy and more than a bit confused. Does Al want to sleep with him because he’s a hellhound? Is Al a demon groupie? An obsessed stalker? Or is his fascination something more, something real? Kane hardly has time to figure it all out with their first case getting in the way.

There are monsters out there that need to be sent back to their own dimension. Hellhounds, to be exact. Hellhounds Kane has met before, and this time they have an Alpha, the one creature Kane cannot fight against. As a hound without a pack, Kane is vulnerable to the pack bond an Alpha can force upon him. The Alpha could not only break him, it could force him to turn against his partner and the humans he has sworn to protect.

Al and Kane are a cute couple. Kane is so wary, so cautious, and so reluctant to open himself up to anyone. He’s surprised when his boss takes his side, and even more surprised when his new partner not only stands up for him, but demands apologies from the local police force for the way they treated Kane. Kane has always been a protector, never the protected.

Al is fierce, devoted, and determined to get what he wants, or rather, who he wants. All his life he’s idolized Kane, dreamed of him, turned him into a hero. It makes the relationship feel rather one-sided, especially when Al is doing his darnedest to convince Kane to sleep with him. The scene is saved by Al’s sincere desire for Kane not only as someone to sleep with, but as a person. He’s been searching for Kane all of his life, and now that he has him he isn’t going to give him up.

They balance each other very well as partners: Kane is calm, composed, and cautious, while Al is aggressive, action-oriented, and all about Kane. How well they work as a couple, though, has yet to be proven. This is a short novella, the first of a series, and ends with a “happy for now” with our two protagonists discovering the truth about each other. Where it goes from there and how Al will cope with discovering who the person is behind his imaginary prince will be something interesting to read in future installments.

elizabeth sig

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