Three different men come to Yellowstone in search of something new. For Jeff, it’s a chance to reconnect with his Comanche blood as he enters the park to keep track of small quakes and the rumblings of the earth. For Brian, it’s an opportunity to get away from a bad breakup that left him feeling insecure, and a chance to prove his doctoral thesis right. And for Foxxe, it’s a way to reinvent his show — and his career — as a television personality. Not one of them expect to find love. Three men, three coyotes, and three happy endings await in this anthology.
Coyote non Grata starts off with a look at the inner workings of the shifter society in Yellowstone. Rody is in exile from his pack, injured from a fight with the pack alpha, and takes shelter in a small cabin only to find a human who had foolishly left his bacon just sitting on the table to be eaten. Jeff is a Comanche familiar with the stories of the shifter people, not that he’d expected to run in to one — or to fall in love with one.
The story worked for me up until it didn’t. The coyote pack, their rules, their reasons, and their relaxed way of life were interesting, and Rody seemed amiable and bright and friendly enough to almost carry the story. Jeff was more of a cypher, and I would really have liked to see more of his Comanche heritage, to see more about how and why he reacted as he did to Rody. But, then came the sex, the remarkably rushed ending, which felt a lot like a “wham, bam, thank you, man,” and then the story was over, leaving me confused and unimpressed. However, up until that page-long ending, I was interested in where the story was going.
Wild Thing also takes place in Yellowstone, as Brian, smarting from being dumped by his boyfriend, heads off to take care of his grandmother’s house. She had recently passed and was the only remaining member of his biological family. Brian’s parents died when he was young and his grandmother was unable to take care of him on her own and so he was taken in by a foster family, who loved him and cared for him, but knew no more of who he was than he did. Enter Will, who is a friendly young man. He’s injured, gets fed, gets laid, and he and Brian are just about ready for their happily ever after, until Brian’s past catches up to him.
Again, this one almost worked. There was more world building, and Brian’s thoughts as he went through what was left of his grandmother — his thoughts on his childhood, on the things he didn’t say to her, the things that he was unable to change — were well written. It has the best pace of the three stories, and the ending was cute, but I had issues with how quickly Brian, who didn’t have the excuse of being raised by a family that believed in shifters or magic, accepted the coyote shifting into a human in front of him. Also, why is Brian so certain that this man, who at first he takes for homeless, suddenly becomes a feral demi-god too pure for this world who must be bedded and protected? Everything moves too fast and skips over any pauses for clarity or common sense reactions just to get straight to the sex. I don’t mind the sex scenes, but it stretched belief a bit much for me. I think if there’d been a little more time taken, I could have appreciated it better.
Man vs. Wild is the final book and where the first story was too quick, I felt like this one lingered a bit much. Again, we have an injured coyote — this time named Reno, who is friendly and open and unconcerned about anything — being saved by a human. Though to be fair, this time it’s because Foxxe, star of the show Man vs. Wild, hits him with his car. Foxxe, like Brian, takes the reveal of coyote shifters with equanimity and acceptance, much as he takes the feral young man to bed and instantly falls in love with him.
I felt like I was reading the same character set over and over. Jeff, Brain and Foxxe are good guys, lonely, and with a few worries who, upon seeing an injured animal, leap to help. Because they’re good guys. And then when a naked, beautiful, hung young man says he wants to sleep with them, they quite graciously agree. Sex ensues, then love and a happily ever after. And there’s nothing wrong with that! But because the characters were all so pencil thin, it became repetitive.
The misogyny in the stories was also a bit off-putting, to be honest. In the first story, the female coyote alpha was described in contemptuous terms as a female who only wanted to be lazy and pregnant and Jeff made it clear his opinion of ‘breeders.’ A woman had been brought in to try being a co-host on Foxxe’s show, but he hated her and so did everyone else, and so she was gone. Reno’s mother is the one who is cold and angry, while his father is patient and the peacemaker. The only good women, Brain’s mother and grandmother, are dead. It’s not a huge thing, but it stood out to me.
I enjoyed the idea of ‘shifter sickness.’ I liked Rody’s pack and how their dynamic came across. I liked how the coyotes felt different from humans and how lube was brought up as a treat to be enjoyed (especially the chocolate flavored lube). I just wish there’d been more world building, more personality, and more time given to develop the characters. The writing is decent, but the pacing is scattered. It’s not a bad read, but I’d be more curious to see what this author did with the time and elbow room for a longer, full-length book.