jumping the bull coverRating: 3.75 stars
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Length: Novella


Ben Beaufort has just lost his job in HR, a job that suited him well, even though as a huge bison shifter, people always expect him to do more physical work. At a loss as to what to do next, Ben decides (after a few drinks) to take a leap and apply to be a Furry United Coalition agent. It is something he has always wanted to try, and now seems like the perfect time.

Ben excels at the training academy in all areas except the obstacle course. There his big, bulky body is not suited for agility and Ben risks flunking out of the program. That’s when yoga instructor and whooping crane shifter, Oliver Zuraw, steps in. Oliver offers to give Ben some private lessons in order to help his agility and flexibility. Ben finds he really likes yoga… and likes Oliver even more. The two begin spending every morning together with lessons and a walk. The men share an attraction, but with Oliver an instructor at the academy, a relationship doesn’t seem possible.

When an undercover mission requires a bison shifter, Ben is brought in, even though he hasn’t finished his training. When things go wrong, Ben has to keep up his cover even longer, and he and Oliver must pretend to be married to gain access to the bad guy at his ranch. There, Ben and Oliver uncover something even worse than they feared. Now it is up to the men to stop the bad guy from his evil plan, and to keep everyone alive in the process.

Jumping the Bull is a standalone story by Jenn Burke set in Eve Langlais’ Furry United Coalition (F.U.C.) world. The FUC Academy stories are a spin-off of that original series and are standalone stories written by different authors set in Langlais’ world. You can jump in here without having read the main series or any of the spin-offs with no issues.

I grabbed this one for review as I love Jenn Burke’s writing and I am a big fan of non-traditional shifters. So when I saw bison and whooping crane, I was definitely intrigued. Burke does a nice job here really inhabiting her characters with their animal traits, something I really love. There is a lot of great detail in terms of how the characters act and their various mannerisms, from the MCs to the side characters. It added some fun here and nice creativity and seeing all the different shifters and how they are portrayed was a highlight of the story for me.

The tone here is really playful, and while this is a suspense story, it is more lighthearted than intense. As an example, they refer to the FUC Academy by the acronym FUCN’A (as in, “fuckin-A”). Given the subject matter in terms of how serious the bad guy’s ultimate crime turns out to be, it did feel a little too lighthearted (or maybe the crime feels too serious for this type of story). And you just sort of need to go with things in terms of the case and the investigation, starting with the fact that the FUC Academy sends in a trainee and their yoga instructor to be uncover agents in a serious case. The reason these men are brought in instead of real agents is explained away, but while I understood why Ben as a bison shifter was needed in the initial (and supposedly quick and easy) job, it’s harder to understand why Oliver was brought in as backup, rather than an actual trained agent. FUC doesn’t seem to be super professional or on top of things, but again, this is something you just have to go with given the tone of this story.

Oliver and Ben are cute together and I found their relationship fun and sweet. I liked seeing the way these two very different shifters work together and there is a nice happy ending for the guys. So if you are in the mood for a fun, light shifter story, and in particular if you like a variety of interesting shifters, consider checking this one out.

 

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