bitten by design audio coverStory Rating: 3.75 stars
Audio Rating: 3.5 stars

Narrator: Antony Ferguson
Length: 8 hours, 41 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Amazon/Audible | iBooks
Book Buy Links: Amazon | iBooks


It’s one thing for Jared to turn down the handsome shifter hitting on him at the club; it’s quite another for that same shifter to leave him hanging, vanishing with little more than a grin. Fuming, piqued, and a bit put out, Jared finds himself no longer interested in this particular bar and heads outside, wondering whether he should just go home or try again somewhere else. While he’s lost in his thoughts, he also manages to lose his wallet to a light-fingered pickpocket and he gives chase.

Nathan thought the guy at the bar was cute. But when duty calls, Nathan puts blondie from his thoughts and heads out to help his pack. While chasing two rival shifters encroaching on his pack’s territory, Nathan ends up doing something stupid. Something very stupid. When a figure comes barreling at him out of an alley, he grabs, holds, and bites. Unfortunately, the person he bit isn’t a shifter. It’s a human, and for a shifter who bites an unwilling human, the sentence is death. And not just for him.

Panicking just a little, Nathan sneaks the unconscious human into his apartment complex, owned by and inhabited by shifters with sharp hearing and sharper noses. His only hope is to keep Jared quiet and calm and smelling like him while they wait out the 28 days until the next full moon. If they’re lucky, Jared won’t shift, and the two can part ways. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Jared is a little bit all over the place, emotionally speaking. Having been attacked by a previous shifter boyfriend, he’s sworn off shifters forever, so being forced to cohabitate with one — one who bit him, who might end up turning him into a shifter — doesn’t make for the calmest and most rational Jared. He’s anxious, snappish, frightened, and lonely. The only person who he has to talk to is Nathan; the only person who knows what’s going on is Nathan; and with the enzymes of Nathan’s bite in his blood, the person he’s most affected by is Nathan. Jared isn’t certain if it’s lust or adrenaline, as he’s a giant ball of energy and temper with no outlet.

For a human who wants to be a shifter, there’s all sorts of paperwork and DNA registration. It isn’t cheap, it isn’t simple, and there’s a great deal of oversight. For a human who has been bitten against their will, there are laws to allow for retribution, but not so much justice. Jared could demand Nathan be exiled from the country. He could have him killed or put into a shifter prison (which is much the same thing). And if, when the new moon rises, he ends up turning into a shifter, there are even more problems because Jared would be an illegal shifter. His lack of paperwork means it wasn’t a voluntary bite, and so, even as Jared and Nathan are riding this out, their best hope lies in Jared not being turned.

For Nathan, the pack has been and always will be everything to him. It’s his family, his friends, his work, his home. He’s loyal, honest, and hard working and lying to them, even if by omission, rankles. If Jared decides to go to the authorities, it’s not just Nathan’s life on the line; his pack alpha could be held accountable. And that means that his own pack might turn on him if they find out about Jared. All of which leaves him balancing between his need and desire to get help from his pack, and his need to protect himself and his pack from Nathan’s mistake.

There are a lot of interesting ideas brought up in this book, particularly the idea of legally sanctioned bites, of how shifters are treated by the human population, and how they move inside and around bigotry and history and power struggles. However, none of that is really dealt with in the book. The main focus is the relationship slowly building between Nathan and Jared as they fight against their own antipathy and end up finally giving in. In order to fool a rival but friendly pack, the two of them have to act like they’re more than just friends and so, in order to get more of Nathan’s scent on Jared, they agree to fuck, which leads to something spiritual taking place between them as they bond.

I’m not normally a fan of fated mates and soul bonds, but the author took the time to develop this one. It feels grounded and like it belongs in this world. I fully believe Nathan’s response to it. Unfortunately, Jared — in part due to his ongoing stress — never really took a solid shape for me as a character. He went from angry and upset to devoted and horny very quickly. Nathan, and even some members of his pack (Luke and Gareth), felt more real and developed, with Jared falling more into the damsel in distress trope. Jared takes one action in the book, with everything else being something he is reacting to or being done to him, and it ends up being nothing.

I also felt like there wasn’t any real sense of urgency or remorse from either character regarding the bite. Jared was always snarky and angry, so it was hard to tell if this particular snit was because of the bite or because Nathan walked into the room, and while Nathan thought over the ramifications of his action, he never really seemed to care about it beyond it being inconvenient. Even so, this was a quick, light read if you’re looking for a book heavy on the romantic relationship aspect and don’t need a giant, sprawling world as a backdrop.

I listened to the audio book, narrated by Antony Ferguson, and it felt more like narration than a performance. The voices were hard to distinguish from one another. He has a pleasant voice, but I found it hard to really connect with it. It felt as though he had to put more deliberate energy into the emotional scenes, which made them seem a little more self-conscious, and at other parts I just found my mind wandering away from the story and had to relisten to a few passages. I do, however, admit that that might be more my issue then anything relating to the narrator. I just wasn’t as caught by his voice and delivery as I would have liked to have been.

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