The shifter clans that live in the wilderness, exiled from the human cities and towns, are still under attack by the evil witch, Sahar, and her cyborg experiments. Bram, bear shifter and leader of the Black Dog Pack, has been stabbed, which normally wouldn’t be an issue, but his wound isn’t healing. More than that, he’s lost his ability to shift. Matty, his human (or mostly human, partly cyborg) mate has gone hunting to find Bram’s brother, Zeb (both because Bram wants to see the brother he lost years ago, and in the hopes of finding help in fixing what’s wrong with Bram). As luck would have it, Matty has found not only Bram’s brother … but something more.
Bear shifter, Zeb, and wolf shifter, Josh, serve the Warren Pack, all while dancing around one another. They’re compatible as mates, but Zeb is older — quite a bit older, though shifters age differently than humans — and he wants Josh to have a chance to live his life without being beholden to Zeb. It doesn’t stop Josh from wanting Zeb, though the two of them don’t speak of it. They’ll have to figure out what to do soon, though, as traveling with Matty is Seven, another rescued human test subject … who happens to be compatible with both Zeb and Josh.
In order to really follow along with the this third book in the Metal & Magic series, it’s best to have read books one and two. A slew of characters are introduced, witches and sorceresses, psychics and feral shifters, as well as hints of Nero, the big bad and the Dragon, an unknown player who might not even be playing the game at all. Even with the intricate plot and backstory, the focus of this book is on Zeb, Josh, and Seven.
Zeb is calculating, playful, and distant, both wanting to be in control and yet not wanting to force anything on his two mates. Josh is earnest, physically needy, and a bit of a hot head who takes the appearance of their third mate as a sign that it’s time to get Zeb out of his own head and into Josh’s bed. Seven is an enigma as, like Matty and Colt before him, he has no memory of who he was before, but Seven has no interest in waiting to see who he is or what his memories are when he could, instead, be rolling around in bed with his mates.
The personalities in this book were a little less well developed than they have been in other installments, but I found the pacing — the back and forth between plot and characters — to be nicely balanced. There’s never too much of the plot to take away from the romance, and even while they’re in a cuddle pile in Zeb’s bed, Zeb, Josh and Seven are never unaware of the stakes around them.
However, I didn’t really feel a connection to the thruple, and my attention was more on the developing drama between Sahar, Nero, and the sudden introduction of the idea that the dragon — a mythical force who upended the world and them promptly seems to have gone to sleep — might be showing up in future books as either a character or an event. Even so, I’m enjoying the series enough that I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next book.