Dustin’s twin brother moved away from their pack to study to become a doctor and never came home. Though Dustin has been in occasional contact with Alec, his departure still caused a rift in the family. But when Dustin learns Alec has died in a tragic car accident, leaving behind his mate, Dustin knows he has no choice but to go get Caleb and bring him home to the Meadowlands pack.
Caleb is grieving for Alec and for the child he was carrying that he lost in the accident. He has no idea what will become of him as he has no family of his own, so when Dustin comes to claim him, Caleb reluctantly goes along. He knows Alec had no real contact with his family and so he isn’t sure about his own welcome, but he has no choice. Caleb is surprised to find that while Dustin and Alec’s mother is cold and unfriendly, Dustin himself is caring and kind and welcomes Caleb into the pack.
Both men are uncertain around each other, but their shared grief connects them. Dustin is determined to take care of Caleb, but is surprised when he finds himself attracted to his brother’s mate. Dustin knows it is wrong to want Caleb, but he has felt the mating bond and while he hides it from Caleb, it isn’t going to go away. For his part, Caleb finds himself drawn to Dustin as well. The brothers are nothing alike, but something about Dustin makes him feel safe and protected. The two men struggle with their feelings, but also realize it is impossible to avoid the connection between them. But just as they are beginning to explore what could be, politics, both in and out of their pack, could totally destroy what they are building.
A Cowboy for Caleb is the first book in L.C. Davis’ new Great Plains Shifters series. I learned after reading it that this is a spin off of her Mountain Shifters series, but while I haven’t read any of those books, I had no problem following along with this story.
What drew me to try this book was the connection between Dustin and Caleb and the idea of one brother falling for his twin’s mate. I was a little worried this would take a turn towards the overly sensational, but I thought this part of the story was handled really nicely. The first portion of the book focuses on the aftermath of Alec’s death and the men getting to know one another. We don’t get an exact timeline, but there are at least a couple of months between Alec’s death and the guys getting together, so while fast, it wasn’t ridiculous. This part of the book shows the guys connecting, getting to know one another, and trying to hide their growing feelings. I think the mate bonding that Dustin feels is a little too convenient a way to exonerate him for any perceived wrongdoing in falling for his brother’s mate; I kind of would have liked to see these guys just fall in love on their own without that element. But I think Davis does a nice job building their relationship here and showing their struggle, even as they find the pull between them is too strong to ignore.
The second portion of the book goes a little bit wild for me. First off, Dustin’s mother, who was prickly and difficult to start with, becomes this mega bitch villain who does something truly vile. It felt over the top and I’ll admit, the evil, vindictive woman storyline is one I read too often and could do without. She becomes almost a caricature with her behavior, moving from surly and difficult to truly horrific. It also makes me a bit nuts how quickly she is forgiven for her terrible behavior. Maybe I am vindictive, but sometimes people who do horrible things don’t deserve forgiveness, at least not so easily. This portion of the story moves away from the couple to a little bit of a bigger picture involving politics and an omega who comes to the pack for safe harbor and Dustin and Caleb end up getting involved. Caleb makes an absurd move that kind of made me incredulous, but just as the action is heating up, it pretty much resolves in a flash. I think if we were going to go big with Caleb’s actions, more needed to happen to back that up instead of letting it fizzle so fast.
As far as world building, I think it is a little too light here. Part of that may be that I am unfamiliar with this larger world that connects to the other series. But when an author starts a new series, I still think book one needs to provide a foundation for that world. I got the general idea of how society works, but there were some politics related to an omega breeding program that are the focus of the later conflict that really needed more explanation and development.
Overall, however, I was intrigued by this one and am interested to check out future books in the series. I liked the way Davis handles the relationship between Caleb and Dustin and she has set up things nicely for the next book in the series featuring Dustin’s best friend. I am looking forward to more in this world.