monstrous intent coverRating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel


Declan grew up as a hunter, fighting to kill chimeras — monsters that can shift into human form — and keep the citizens safe. But four years ago, Declan had enough of the violence and the killing and the death. He just wanted a normal life, and so he left the Department of Research and Defense (DRD) to become a teacher. However, now the DRD wants him back. Declan wants nothing to do with them, but he reluctantly agrees to provide a quick consult. When he gets there, Declan meets Lake, who works at the DRD. Declan immediately knows something is off with Lake; he could swear the man isn’t human. But if so, Declan has no idea how the heads of DRD wouldn’t know and why a monster would be working there.

Lake has his reasons for working at the DRD, as he too is tired of the life of death and violence. But Lake knows something is not right at the DRD and, when he ends up caught in the crosshairs, the only one he can think to go to for help is Declan. Declan wants nothing to do with any of it, especially Lake. But the situation grows quickly out of control, and before they know, Lake and Declan are being hunted by both the DRD and a group of especially dangerous chimeras.

Things go from bad to worse, as danger is around every turn. Not to mention that it is quite clear something is rotten at the DRD and there is a lot happening behind the scenes that could mean an even greater threat to the humans. Both Declan and Lake are determined to do all they can to take down the bad guys, even if they have to pay with their lives. But they are also falling for one another, and neither man is quite willing to let the other go. Now, they have no choice but to work together to stop those who want to let the monsters destroy the world. And just maybe, they will make it out of it all alive.

Monstrous Intent is the first book in Alice Winters new Mischief and Monsters series and I just loved it. My regular readers probably all know by now that I am a huge fan of Winters’ writing and this story is her style all over. We have humor and banter and craziness, characters that seem to hate each other but really want each other badly, and lots of excitement and suspense. Basically, if you enjoy Winters’ writing, this book is going to be right up your alley.

There is some nice world building here as the story unveils this world where monsters exist and hunters are tasked with taking them out. Some of the chimeras are low level threats, more like dangerous pests. But some of them are strong and intelligent and can shift into a human form, making them incredibly dangerous. While a chimera sighting used to be rare, now they are becoming more frequent. Into all of this, we get Declan as a retired hunter, and Lake, who is a chimera in human form who is for some reason working for the hunters. It takes some time to uncover just why Lake is there, so I won’t go into too much detail. But Declan is sure Lake is more than he seems and, once he learns the truth, he is determined to have nothing to do with Lake. Of course, Lake adores Declan and wants nothing more than to jump him at every chance and the two drive each other crazy until they are falling in love with each other.

Declan is grumpy and kind of surly and mostly wants a normal life — except nothing excites him like hunting. Lake makes him crazy, but also totally hot, and Declan doesn’t know what to do with all those feelings. And Lake is lively and happy and everyone seems to give in to him, no matter what he is doing, partly because he is adorable and partly because he is terrifying. Like I said, pretty much classic Alice Winters. What is nice here is that we see how each man has been living a life of death and violence. They have both been forced into something they didn’t want and didn’t know how to get away from until they just left. And, of course, they are now both facing the consequences. But it gives the men a kinship that allows them to really understand one another and works well for their relationship development.

The story has a lot of suspense as things go off the rails pretty early on and it is almost non-stop action. Lake and Declan spend much of the story either attempting to take down the chimeras or the bad guys — or running from the chimeras and the bad guys. They are helped by one of Declan’s co-workers who had a crush on him and agrees to help, and then refuses to get to safety when things get dicey. I like that we learn more about her and just why she is determined to see things through, rather than just making her a woman taking risks because she is pining for Declan. The story is intense and exciting with lots of danger and twists. We come to a nice resolution here, but there are lots of open questions (including what, if anything, the DRD did to Declan as a child) that lead us nicely into the next book. Oh, and there is a fish, who at one point is strapped in his bowl with duct tape to a naked Lake. Like I said, craziness has ensued.

I totally loved this one and tore through it, even as it is a fairly long story. Something about Winters’ style just really works for me and this one was another hit. I loved the set up and the world building and I can’t wait for more from Lake and Declan.

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