Kit, a charming cheetah shifter who puts the “cat” in cat burglar, was hired to take pictures of a small, jeweled compact for a client. He wasn’t supposed to take it with him, but the old woman who had lost it was so sweet, and it’s not as if anyone is going to miss it… So, not knowing what he is setting himself up for, Kit decides to return the compact, as well as the pictures, to the woman who hired him. Caught in the act by a wolf shifter, Kit leads the other man over London’s rooftops in a game of cat and, well, not mouse exactly, but it was a fun game while it lasted. More fun since Kit was able to get away, all while making the wolf look a bit of a fool.
Ever since the night wolf shifter, Alexios, caught the cheetah breaking into the bank — and then lost him, ending up trapped behind the security bars of a jewelry store — he hasn’t been able to get the other man out of his head. Sometimes he can even swear he can smell the cat. Imagine his surprise when Kit comes waltzing in through Alexios’ window a few months later, acting like he’s been there before (which it seems he has, snooping through Alexios’ computer and helping himself to Alexios’ apartment, chairs, and even his bed while he’s not there,) because he needs help.
Kit has killed a man. He didn’t mean to, but he did, and now he needs help. The old woman who hired him to take the pictures of the jeweled compact is dead, murdered, and Kit doesn’t know if he can do this on his own. Clearwater, the raven shifter, vouches for his friend, and before Alexios can shake his tail, Kit has joined C.L.A.W. (the Covert Law and Order Shifter Division of M16) and is working with the wolf shifter on the origins of the compact and the identity of the killer. It only gets more fun from there.
This is the third book in the Agents of C.L.A.W. series and can easily be read as a standalone. This book, though, is the best of the series so far, and if you had to pick one to start with, I’d say go with this one. The basic premise is simple enough: there are shifters in the world, and they’re hiding themselves from discovery. C.L.A.W. works to both protect them for humans, and protect humans from them, working both along the edges of the law and sometimes outside it.
Alexios is the alpha wolf of C.L.A.W.’s wolf shifters, though sometimes he feels more like the ringmaster of a circus made of monkeys. Monkeys acting like clowns, when they’re not being children in need of protection and discipline. Fortunately, Alexios believes in law, order, and control, and has no compunctions about putting members of his pack in their place. Having lost his birth pack at a young age, he’s never felt comfortable with the bonds of family, and even now he hasn’t been able to fully bond with his men. It leaves him feeling isolated and alone.
Kit is a born troublemaker. The middle child, and the only single birth in a family of seven, he had to do something to get attention. While he’s not a stickler for rules and regulations, he’s never really wanted to hurt anyone; he’s more Robin Hood than robber, and he believes in giving people a second chance (and believes in giving Alexios a second glance, and then some.) Even though he’s been content on his own, Kit hasn’t exactly been what one would call happy … but when he’s working with Alexios and his pack as the newest member of C.L.A.W., Kit can’t help but feel as if he’s part of something special. For the first time, Kit belongs. More than that, he wants to belong.
Alexios is afraid to fully commit. What if something goes wrong? What if the person he loves gets hurt? When his father died, it killed a part of his mother and she never recovered. That left an indelible impression on Alexios, and ever since, he’s been careful of his heart. Fortunately, Kit’s a talented thief. More than that, he’s capable, a skilled fighter, and as clever as a cat. He’s capable of being a full partner with Alexios, rather than someone he needs to protect, and somehow — without him noticing — Kit manages to weasel his way into Alexios’s life and his heart.
Each of the books in the C.L.A.W. series are quick, light, and easy reads, but this third book ramps up both the action and the drama, giving some intricate plotting and fun world building. Alexios comments that there’s not a person working for their organization who isn’t, in some way, hurt or damaged or possessing a questionable morality. It’s why Kit fits in so well, but so does Alexios, who has no compunctions about breaking someone’s neck. This book adds in a much needed antagonist for C.L.A.W. to work against, and I’m very curious to see where future volumes take us.