Templeton Reed is a skunk shifter who works at the OTR, the Office for Transmogrification Registration. Basically, he tracks the lineage of packs, prides, flocks, etc. to make sure they have the proper papers. He doesn’t like to let other shifters know what he is…especially the Lycans, and super especially the Lycans who work at the OTR alongside him. It seems the Lycans are excellent trackers and they go after rogue shifters who refuse to play by the rules. Also, most of them are…well…assholes.
Mikel Lupei is the Lycan pack Alpha. He’s less of an asshole, even though he does like to tease Templeton a little. Eventually, Mikel and Templeton, thanks to a bit of a misadventure (a dangerous one), begin to fall for one another. Their relationship might be unconventional, but they make it work. It’s too bad they have to hide their blossoming love. Being gay is frowned upon in the shifter world…not to mention it’s an interspecies romance. An Erie Collection is anthology of four Erie novellas that follow Mikel, Templeton, and their friends through some hilarious, but not exactly safe, mysteries.
An Erie Halloween: This is the first of the four novellas. Basically, it sets up everything that will happen through the collection. Here we meet Templeton, Mikel, and some various shifters in Erie, Pennsylvania…literally along the lake. It also tells the tale (or should I say tail?) of their budding romance. I don’t want to give too much away, but Templeton becomes the target of a group of people who want him to quickly push a certain investigation of a family lineage though. Mikel rescues Templeton from an attack by a big cat and bear shifter. While it’s a serious situation, it’s actually really funny. Skunks are notorious for having terrible vision and during the chase, Templeton loses his glasses. I laughed so hard while reading this one. It was a delightful read. Creative and well written, the world building is outstanding. I was very impressed that the author was able to make me actually believe that shifters live on the shores of Lake Erie.
Also, in An Erie Halloween, we’re introduced to several important background characters who will be present in the rest of the stories. Dave and Eddie are members of Mikel’s pack. They stuck around after it was revealed Mikel was gay and having a relationship with Templeton. There’s Craig, a weasel shifter, who is Templeton’s boss at the OTR. Finally, we have perhaps one of the greatest background characters of all time…Rugby, Mikel’s (and now by default, Templeton’s) man Friday. He cooks, he cleans, he takes care of everything, and, oh wow, is hilarious! Templeton has a difficult time getting used to Rugby anticipating his every need. He also freaks out occasionally because Rugby is constantly underfoot. In fact, the last line of every one of the stories is, “Dammit, Rugby!”.
An Erie Operetta: Just reading the first two pages of this one made me realize I was in for another treat. Imagine two wolves playing in the snow, and one skunk shifter in human form looking out the window. Now, imagine the skunk shifter opening the door and being pounced on by those wolves…those cold, wet wolves…and being playfully wrestled to the floor. THEN imagine the skunk shifter’s wolf boyfriend seeing this, and rather than stopping it, jumping into the fray. It was funny and adorable, and I was thoroughly charmed.
In this story, Mikel has decided he would like to take Templeton (and Dave and Eddie) to the opera. They could all use a little culture. However, while they’re there, a new mystery comes to life. Bodies are beginning to turn up and Templeton can’t keep his little skunk nose out of it. Like An Erie Halloween, the plot is well written, well thought out, and completely entertaining.
Because this is a supernatural opera, honorable mention goes to the beautifully detailed description of the ship that takes the patrons to the opera house. It gave me an image of opulence, and I was actually able to see every detail. Once again, the story ends with, “Dammit, Rugby!” Hehe.
An Erie Garden Party: This story, while still being fun with an interesting mystery, was what I consider the weakest of the four. Here we meet Mikel’s cousin, Havel. He’s left his pack in Puget Sound, basically with the clothes on his back. He’s an outcast because of who he is, and he’s come seeking refuge at Mikel’s home. Along with his secret, more bodies start to turn up with Havel’s arrival. All signs point to Havel being the killer.
I don’t want to give anything about the mystery away, but I will tell you a main part of the story is having Vincente, the resident vampire peeking into the minds of Havel and the other members of the household to make sure they’re not the killer (Did I forget to mention there is a vampire? Well, there’s a vampire. Heh…and his human lover, Akio.) It’s amusing because Mikel and Vincente cannot stand each other, although I think they begrudgingly respect each other.
Other than the mystery at hand, we get to meet Templeton’s mother and father. He’s initially afraid to tell them he and Mikel are mates. All is well, however, and they’re more accepting than he thought they’d be…especially when Mikel mentions the idea of adopting. That thrills Templeton’s mother to no end because she’s always wanted grandchildren.
Even, as I thought this was the weakest of the four stories, it’s most certainly not a bad one. I just kind of thought it was a little busy. There are new characters and new residents of the Lupei mansion to keep track of, and they all have their parts to play. It is exciting, and it’s still amusing, but I felt like this could have been a bit of a less is more situation.
An Erie Uprising: In this final story, we find Templeton and Mikel as in love as ever, and their growing household thriving…the lake as well because…mermen 🙂 However, things aren’t going so well in the shifter world. More and more the people (or…animals…whatever you may want to consider them) are ready to rebel against the Elder Council because of their antiquated ways. There is still anti-gay sentiment, as well as misogyny and prejudice among the elders, and the packs and prides are tired of it. War is on the horizon, and death and destruction would follow. This worries Templeton sick, especially because his beloved Mikel will have to be on the front lines.
I think this was a great way to end the anthology. There was plenty of action and intrigue. All of the characters shined…Templeton above the others. I like to think this was an allegory about how the smallest of creatures can be more capable than the biggest and most fierce when it comes to solving problems and matters of diplomacy. While the wolves are away, the lesser members of the household play an important part of saving the day. All of this culminates into a great battle with the lesser shifters joining the ranks with the wolves, big cats, and bears. I don’t think I’m saying too much when I say the evil is vanquished and the world becomes a much better place.
An Erie Uprising has all the feel good happily ever after feels that were needed after so many trials. There are weddings, adoptions, couplings, and just general delight. It was, quite simply, perfection.
I cannot recommend An Erie Collection enough. It was charming, funny, exciting, and just a joy to read. If you’re a fan of shifters/the paranormal, this is for you. Also, if you’ve never tried a shifter story, this is the perfect way to dip your toes. I loved the whole thing, and I can only hope the author has many more Erie stories to come.
Oh, and…”DAMMIT, RUGBY!”