Ruff Trouble is a bit of a mini-anthology of stories centering around three main characters: Chantelle Shepherd, Bobby Pooch, and Sam Sanders. One of those three is not a dog shifter. All of them are police officers in London at the beginning of our adventure with them.
Sam and Bobby were close partners on the force before Sam got hit by a drunk driver while on the job and relegated to desk duty. Chantelle came into their precinct once Sam was injured, and she and Bobby hit it off. Being shifters, they realize they are a mated pair—even if they have to keep it secret due to protect their jobs. Chantelle recognizes the attraction that Sam held for Bobby, even if Bobby has always considered it friendly affection. Chantelle also notices how deeply Bobby values his friendship with Sam, and she sees how Sam is pulling away, preparing to leave their area altogether. Sam is deeply disturbed by his ever-present limp and feels insecure about himself. He feels he lost both his career and any chance with Bobby due to the injury, but Chantelle has different plans.
Chantelle convinces Bobby that Sam has always wanted a physical relationship with him, and Bobby allows her to set it up. For Chantelle, this is a suitable arrangement because she is secure in Bobby’s love for her, yet she feels like she might not be enough to satisfy Bobby’s physical needs. Sam is an ideal third, because he will love Bobby as much as Chantelle, and though gay, is friendly and appreciative of Chantelle as a person.
There are three vignettes of stories that center around building an unbreakable bond for this triad. Initially, it’s about inviting Sam into Chantelle and Bobby’s relationship and their world. Sam didn’t know Bobby or Chantelle were dog shifters, at first, and it’s with both desperation and a lot of trust that they share their secrets. Sam is hooked, and Bobby and Chantelle each make big changes to keep Sam with them. The second act is a transformation of Sam, from unsure about his place in this ménage to rock solid with his equal partners. The third vignette relies on Sam as a strong individual to prop up Bobby as they rescue Chantelle from an unknown foe.
The span of the stories is just under a year, and they are both sexy and sweet. There is a lot of love and soul searching going on here. Bobby is the alpha of their unlikely pack, and he’s ultimately in charge, but he allows Chantelle and Sam to have their way when it suits. He and Chantelle use their doggy senses to home in on their feelings—and discern how they should respond. Being shifters, they have a more fluid view of gender and sexuality, though Bobby identifies as straight at the beginning. With Chantelle and Sam he’s more than willing to branch out, and he becomes a satisfying partner to both. Sam’s understandable fears of inadequacy are a tough barrier to overcome, both emotionally and physically. He knows that Bobby will ultimately mate with Chantelle, and he doesn’t know what his role would be once pups are on the scene.
I liked how all of this played out. There are real moments of peril and danger, thanks to the criminal activity and revenge subplots that drive the action outside of the bedroom. These were maybe a little out there in terms of reality, but then it’s a shifter story and I was fully able to accept that. So…I’m not going to bemoan plot conveniences, because it all made sense, even though I thought the bad guys were thin caricatures. They did their job of wreaking havoc that Bobby, Chantelle, and Sam have to overcome. In the end, they are happy and joined tighter than any one of them could have predicted.
This is an entertaining read, with lots of MMF, MM, MFM, and MF sexytimes. Chantelle isn’t always on the sidelines, even when encouraging Bobby to ravish Sam. I liked their dynamic, and how invested Sam became in pleasing both Chantelle and Bobby. Expect a bit of domination from Bobby, as the alpha.