at sixes and sevensRating: 3.75 stars
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Length: Novel

Cat shifter Aidric Le Clair has finally met his fated mate, but there’s one problem. Aidric is a beta for his clowder, and his mate, Carter Lovelock, is the alpha of the Dark Lake werewolf pack. Cats and wolves have never gotten along, and neither man takes the news easily. But they are fated to be together, and so Aidric and Carter take a chance.

Things aren’t smooth sailing though. As Aidric and Carter are getting to know each other, Carter’s pack is causing trouble. Not all of them want a werecat as the Alpha-mate. And worse, Aidric can’t carry Carter’s pups, so the line of succession would be broken. But Aidric and Carter are drawn together, and they are determined to find a way to make it work.

When Carter takes custody of his nephew, it seems that’s one problem handled. It’s not easy, but Aidric and Carter are finding their way. But dark forces are at work to tear the pair apart. And a vicious attack might succeed in doing just that.

This is the fourth book in the Fur, Fangs, and Felines series and Church does a pretty good job of letting it stand on it’s own. The backstory is filled in at all the strategic places, and it almost works. But I think this is a series best read in order to get the full affect. I’ve been reading along since the beginning, and while I was definitely interested in this story and wanted to see what happened, I also came away with mixed feelings.

I really enjoy the world the author has built, and it’s populated with a lot of interesting characters. The great thing about a series like this is getting to know MCs a little before we get to their story, and getting to check in with previous couples (or throuples) as the series progresses. Aidric has been featured as side character in the first three, and though we didn’t get to know him very well, we do see he’s steadfast and strong. At the end of the previous book, he met his fated mate, and now we get to see how two headstrong men make a relationship work.

I also liked that this book was told in alternating first person. It really gave an immediacy to each POV, so we really got to understand the characters. Aidric is full fleshed out and realized here, and Carter is as well. One of the things I really enjoyed was how the differences in werecat and werewolf culture colored each MCs perspective, and how they had to work to overcome and change that in order to fit into their mate’s life. It was an interesting interplay, and I liked watching both Aidric and Carter stumble and readjust. It gave them a solidness I enjoyed and made their relationship stronger. And for me, I was particularly happy to see those cultures explained and presented, highlighting the differences. It definitely worked in the story’s favor, and made it a more engaging read.

But where I had issues was the pacing. This is a good sized novel and a lot happens. This definitely made a fully realized plot. But there were times when situations were too quickly resolved, or where characters jumped to conclusions and then changed their minds a paragraph or two later. Things slowed down for me about a third of the way through, and I was anxious to get the pace moving again. It does pick up for a while, then slows down again. But the last quarter of the book really picked up, and the story finished strong.

The plot elements here left a little to be desired. I liked that the issue of the Alpha heir was resolved, and I enjoyed watching Carter interact with his nephew. But I also thought that the depth of the subject matter relating to it wasn’t given enough exploration and weight. There was also a stereotypical female ex of Carter’s that caused trouble in the beginning. This plot point, though irritating in the beginning, resolved in much more satisfactory, and slightly unexpected way. I have to say, I was relieved with the way it was resolved. The ending moved a little too quickly for me, and I would have liked to see a bit more explanation and exploration, as I felt I was just told outcomes instead of shown. And of course, the very end gives us a hint of what’s to come next in the series.

Overall, though this story was a bit of a mixed bag for me, I definitely recommend it to anyone who has been following the series. And if unconventional shifters are your thing, then this series might be one you want to take a peek at.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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Joyfully Jay