in the pink coverRating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Beau Pinkus has won the Powerball jackpot and is moving his large family of flamingo shifters to Valleywood, California. Now that they have more money than they can spend, Beau wants his family to be able to spread out in their own rooms and to be as far away from Florida as they can manage. The group settles into a mansion that seems to be perfect, until Beau’s little brother manages to annoy their neighbor, Dmitri Barlovski, almost immediately. Dmitri is quite clear he wants nothing to do with the flamingos and that they should stay away from his property.

Dmitri has his hands full managing his mob boss father. His dad is a goose shifter and has never been happy that Dmitri is not only a swan like his mother, but an omega to boot. His father has moved next door, all the better to spy on and control Dmitri. The last thing Dmitri needs to deal with is a host of pink flamingos living on the other side of him and making his life even more complicated. Dmitri can admit to himself that he is drawn to Beau, but he also wants nothing to do with alphas of any kind. Dmitri may be in an omega, but he doesn’t want to submit, doesn’t want a mate, and doesn’t want anyone controlling his life.

Despite his best efforts, however, Dmitri can’t quite stay away from Beau. To his surprise, Beau is not the typical bossy and demanding alpha. In fact, Beau is quite happy submitting to Dmitri. What begins as just sex between them soon begins to grow into more and the men are realizing that, even with their differences, they may be the perfect fit. But between Beau’s unruly family, Dmitri’s dangerous father, and their alpha and omega biologies getting involved, their lives are anything but settled.

In the Pink is a fun, opposites-attract, shifter/omegaverse story by Virginia Kelly. The book is part of the very large Valleywood multi-author collection that appears to have been releasing for the last couple of years, but it stands alone just fine. The series connection seems to be that they all take place in this neighborhood (city?) called Valleywood, but I read this as a standalone with zero issues. There is an entertaining enemies-to-lovers vibe as Beau and Dmitri clash almost right away, mostly because Beau’s family is pretty unruly and Dmitri is kind of a grumpy ass. Through a bit of a contrived set up, Beau and his family end up spending a lot of time in Dmitri’s house, giving the two men a chance to connect. Dmitri is wary of getting involved with an alpha, as he is a pretty dominant omega and he worries an alpha will want to run roughshod over him. To his delight, however, he finds that Beau may be an alpha, but he is happy to submit to Dmitri. The story is pretty kink heavy as the guys explore a lot of Dom/sub dynamics, but it is not particularly hard core, and the book has a very light, playful vibe rather than an intense one. Beau is a bratty sub and loves to push Dmitri’s buttons, particularly if it earns him a spanking. I enjoyed the dynamic between the men, particularly as we see Dmitri softening almost despite himself. He has grown up with awful parents and is not used to anyone caring about him, so he puts up a lot of walls. But as he realizes how much Beau feels for him and how willing he is to let Dmitri take the lead, Dmitri softens and really opens himself up to Beau and his family.

The set up here is that Beau and his siblings have gone from being poor Florida “rednecks” (the book’s term) to wealthy beyond their dreams, but they are still sort of wild and unruly. Beau moves in with their grandmother, his sex-crazed sister, his brilliant teen sister, and younger twin siblings, along with a cousin of sorts who isn’t actually related to them. They are loud and not particularly well behaved, but they are sweet and clearly love one another. I enjoyed seeing how Dmitri comes to love and care about the family as well, almost despite himself. I did expect a little more from the suddenly millionaires part of the storyline, particularly how the family is adapting to having more money than they could ever imagine after being so poor. However, aside from the set up allowing them to move to Valleywood, the lottery winning is barely even part of the story, which seemed sort of a missed opportunity. Also, the story made it sound like they needed (or badly wanted) to get out of Florida to escape their lives there, which is why they go cross-country to California. I kept waiting for more backstory to explain the family’s past, but it never comes. Also, the humor here is definitely on the sillier side, at times a little over the top, but I generally found it fun. I think some readers may find it too corny, but it worked for me and I liked the way the lightness balances with some of the deeper moments, like learning more about Dmitri’s childhood.

This is a long story and I think some of the plot threads don’t get played out enough to make it need all those pages. For example, the fact that Dmitri is also a famous actor gets mentioned, but doesn’t really go anywhere. I assume that is thrown in to fit with the larger series themes, but it seemed like the book could have been cut down from its approximately 400 pages by focusing a little more and dropping some of the more extraneous elements. That said, I found the tone fun and the story to be a relatively fast and easy read given the length.

One thing Kelly does really well here is the shifter side of the world building. We mostly meet various bird shifters and the story nicely incorporates little details in both their human and animal forms. I love when shifter stories take the animal traits and build them into the characters and it adds so many great little touches here.

Most of all, I really enjoyed the dynamic between the men and Dmitri’s growth in particular. It is rewarding to see him open up and realize he can trust and count on Beau and to take down some of those walls. I found this an entertaining shifter/omegaverse story and one that I think will appeal to lots of readers who are looking for a dose of kink mixed in with a light, playful story.

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