Drew may have given up most of his self-esteem when it comes to pleasing his family, but even he knows that helping his police detective brother crack a major case means consultant fees that will finally enable him to escape the town and kin he cannot stand. With the taste of bitter anger in his mouth at being forced to play yet another role, Drew puts his experience with exotic animals to use while investigating a college campus frat house that is alleged to be illegally dealing with the animals. What Drew doesn’t expect is to find a group of men much like himself: misfits turned away by family and forced to leave their home in order to be true to their nature. He also is shocked to discover the house captain, Rylee, once had an affair with the very man who raped and abused Drew, hooking him on drugs while using him as a punching bag and sex slave.
Rylee looks after anyone who comes to his house needing a safe place to stay. When Drew arrives, Rylee realizes just how dangerous it is to have him in the house—could this human be his mate? He may not be able to do more than sense his own cat, but the one lurking in Drew is calling to Rylee’s own. Before they know it, Drew and Rylee will have to face a man on the loose who is converting humans without remorse.
A Touch of Danger by Elaine White sets up an alternate reality where wild cats and other species live in harmony as long as they follow the rules and engage in sex only when needing to procreate. In other words, no gays allowed. To leave this land, called Vihaan, a person must effectively give up ever taking their animal form again—unless they are a hybrid called a foame (these are more like the shifters we are used to reading about). Rylee, like some others in the house, goes through a magical door of sorts that stands between the human world and Vihaan. Once they cross, they are doomed to remain in human form until they cross back—which may or may not kill them, no one knows for sure.
If this is all a bit confusing, I will say that the author does eventually get around to telling us all about this world they’ve created, but unfortunately does so in a way that left me confused and a bit discombobulated. I felt like I was thrust into a scene without the necessary backstory to understand all the subterfuge and emotional undercurrents that swirled around most of the characters. Then a chapter or two later things would be explained and I would move on to the next confusing incident ready to wait out the author’s clarification, which always came eventually.
Alongside that issue were the many plot holes that existed in this story. While I realize this is the first of an upcoming series, I wish we would have gotten a whole lot more information here on the man Aniel who both once dated Rylee and later abused and raped Drew. (By the way, the rape is not in any way described other than recalling it happened.) Who was this guy? Why did he leave Vihaan? Was he forced to do so or did he leave his wife, Rylee’s sister, willingly? I had so many questions about him, but no answers. Then there was the idea of how Rylee financed the house and supported the guys in it. No one seemed to have a job, yet there are multiple mentions of buying special food and paying off the park security so the foames could shift and run without getting caught.
In the end, there were just so many more questions than answers even considering this was the first book, which definitely allows for a great deal of leeway when it comes to tying up all the loose ends. In many ways, this was a good start and unique take on the paranormal word of animal shifters. I think when the author learns to tighten up their storyline and fill in the gaps left behind, this will turn out to be an exciting new way of viewing the paranormal shifter trope.