Holden Bancroft has worked hard for his job, graduating early as a lawyer to work for the Interspecies Emergency Management Agency. Holden has always been sick all his life, and he knows it is just getting worse, but he wanted a job where he could make a difference and help others. But now that he has the job, Holden is disillusioned as he sees that money isn’t going where it’s needed and no one seems too concerned. He learns about a small town named Hope where the residents are recovering from a hurricane and while on paper money is going to them for rebuilding, in reality they aren’t seeing any of the funds. Determined to get to the bottom of what’s going on, Holden heads to Hope in an attempt to see what is happening on the ground, and perhaps find proof of the corruption. Along the way, he stops for dinner and nearly passes out from hunger and exhaustion. A stranger offers to share his table, and the guys hit it off so much that they end up having a hot night together. When morning comes, the two go their separate ways, but it isn’t easy for either man to forget the other.
Crowley Lomond is an alpha wolf and the Zenith of the Americas. That means he leads all the shifters in that region of the world, one of three Zenith’s across the globe. Crowley is able to connect emotionally and mentally with all of his shifters, and he takes his job seriously. He doesn’t much like the adoration his job brings, but he cares for his people and is determined to help them navigate the fragile peace with humans. When Holden shows up in his small town of Hope, Crowley is stunned, because while he was drawn to the man during the hot night they shared, he never expected to see him again. When Holden brings word of the corruption with the emergency funds, Crowley is furious to learn what is going on. But he can’t help but be thrilled that fate has brought Holden back into his life.
Holden and Crowley felt an attraction to each other right away, but neither realized that Holden is Crowley’s Kindred, his fated mate. A Kindred is incredibly rare and the connection brings strength to both men in ways they didn’t expect. But that is not the only unusual thing going on. The men learn about a group of shifters that are being preyed upon, at serious risk to their lives. And that this is just the tip of the iceberg of the deceit and lies, some of which has been going on for years and hits at the highest levels of shifter society. With Holden by his side, Crowley is determined to get to the bottom of the crisis and learn who is behind the trouble and how to stop them.
Rebuilding Hope is the first book in Jessie G’s new Kindred series and I think it is off to a great start. One of the things I always look for in a shifter series is some creative world building and Jessie G really does a great job with that here. This story not only has some interesting takes on shifters in general, but also the larger world and politics that govern them. It is well developed and interesting, and the world building works well on both the larger level, as well as more specifically between the men. At times, I did feel like things got a little complicated with the bigger political picture and I am not sure I understood every nuance, but I found it really engaging and the author not only gives us some interesting plot elements here, but also sets things up in clever ways for the series in general. I appreciated that we get some good resolution on some key areas, while still leaving more aspects to be explored in the future books.
I found the romance between Holden and Crowley to be sweet and romantic. Fated mates stories can often leave me feeling like the romance is too rushed or undeveloped. But despite the fact that Holden and Crowley are mates, I could still feel their connection grow. Perhaps this is because Holden is going through a lot health-wise and we get a chance to see the way Crowley helps him through it all. But I felt the connection between the men and really liked their dynamic. I appreciated that even though Crowley is the strong one (both physically and in terms of power and authority), Holden has his own strengths and feels like an equal partner to Crowley once he comes into his own. I never felt like there was a power imbalance between them, and you can see how Holden gives Crowley strength and support (and some much needed lack of deference). It is interesting to me that the series is tied together by the Kindreds (the next two books focus on the other Zeniths and their Kindreds), as it gives the story some nice balance between the powerful Zenith’s and their mates.
So if you are looking for a really engaging shifter story, definitely check out Rebuilding Hope. I am really excited about where it goes from here, and particularly interested to explore the other Zeniths (hippo shifter!) and how the three men and their mates all tie together.