dire straits and entwined fates coverRating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Casimir never expected to find love; he never thought he even deserved after his violent past. And he certainly didn’t expect to fall for a cheery, sweet, wolf shifter like Julian. But the two men have fallen hard and found an unexpected happiness together. Not only does Julian help bring some light to Casimir’s life, he has also helped Casimir open himself up to friendship, and Casimir is finding himself with a small, but important, circle around him.

However, when someone from Casimir’s past comes back stirring up trouble, things could all fall apart. Julian and Casimir encounter a vampire who has been starved nearly to death and has been kept captive by an unknown vampire. As more attacks occur, it becomes clear that someone is taunting Casimir, trying to draw him out, and threatening lives in the process. Casimir finally finds himself able to open up about his past to Julian, and Julian’s unwavering support gives him comfort. But Casimir still doesn’t know who is after him and why. All he knows is that he will do anything to protect his friends and the man he loves, even if that means he must face down his past once and for all.

Dire Straits and Entwined Fates is the second book in Alice Winters’ Fanged Mistakes series and is best read after the first book to be familiar with the characters and the series arc so far. The story picks up with Julian and Casimir happy together and in love. Casimir never thought he deserved someone like Julian, but he is finally finding some happiness. Then this mystery person from his past comes along and starts stirring things up. There is a nice suspense plot here as the vampire is threatening lives and putting both friends and strangers in dangers. It gets intense and exciting and comes together really well. The story gives a chance for Julian (and the reader) to learn more about Casimir’s past that is alluded to in the first book, but not detailed. It is dark and horrible and really helps to give insight into Casimir’s character. It also provides a chance to see the comfort and support Julian provides, as he accepts Casimir just as he is and works to help Casimir believe his past doesn’t make him a monster. Julian is just so sweet and loving and sunshiney and he provides that love Casimir really needs. I also like the balance here in the characters. While Julian is not as strong as Casimir by any means, he is still a supernatural being and has his own skills, like superior smell. So as they dig into what is going on with the vampire, Julian can help out in ways a human could not.

This second book also further develops the ensemble cast, and part of the fun here is watching this group interact. In addition to Cyrus and Ezio, Yorick also joins the group. There is great banter and lots of playfulness as they all love to tease one another. Their antics interject some nice humor that helps balance out the more intense portions of the story. It also really shows the found family these men have built and that Casimir has people in his life who will do anything for him, even if he doesn’t feel like he deserves it.

I am such a fan of Winters’ writing and this is another really fun series. It hits that sweet spot Winters is so good at of great suspense, lots of humor, and an endearing grumpy/sunshine pair. It looks like the series is expanding to feature a book for some of the side characters, and I am looking forward to seeing what is next for this series.

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