Shifters

Forest of Thorns and Claws by J.T. Hall

ForestRating: 4 stars
Genre: 
Paranormal; Shifters
Publication day:
 May 15, 2017
Length: 
247 pages  
Publisher:
 Riptide Publishing

Donovan McGinnis, a veterinarian and conservationist at a research center in Sumatra, is fighting to save the rainforest from poachers and politicians alike. One day he discovers a tigress trapped by a snare, and while treating her injuries, she bites him. He becomes ill with strange symptoms that leave him feverish and dreaming of the jungle and blood.

Kersen and his family are part of the Harimau jadian, a clan of tiger shifters hidden away in a secret village near the rainforest. When Kersen’s sister is caught, he knows he must free her before she infects someone with their magic and reveals their secret.

But Donovan has already been turned, and only time will tell if he can control the tiger within. Kersen must help him, but will the fierce attraction between the pair bring ruin to them all? With the rainforest under threat from outside forces, they may be doomed anyway, unless Kersen and Donovan can find a way to defeat the danger from inside and out.

My View: Forest of Thorns and Claws is a different type of shifter story, more magical realism than mainstream weres. The policies, culture, and everyday life of the villagers is an integral part of the story. It goes beyond the traditional mating pull to an educated possibility of weretigers living in unexploited forests.

The book is well-crafted and reminds me of Ann Patchett’s States of Wonder. J.T. Hall takes the time to web her characters with the story.–there are one and the same. The descriptions were enticing and the shifting elements vivid.

We do get to see a bond between Donovan and Kersen, and later with the rest of the clan. But this novel brings the reader the opportunity to make their experience unique and somehow educational without losing the appeal of fictional shifter traditions.

What I liked the most: The importance of the weretigers as a cultural element.

I wanted more/less: A bit more romance.

Who should read it: Fans of more realistic shifter stories.

ARC provided by Riptide Publishing, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

Advertisements

Softpaw by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus

SoftpawRate: 3.75 stars
Genre: 
Paranormal – Shifters
Publication day: 
July 14, 2016
Length: 
219 pages  
Publisher: 
Self-Published – Extras

Connor’s life could have been the dream of any cultured werecat. He is spending his days in Paris’ gay quarter with comfortably little real work, playing the piano, surrounded by art, fine food and good friends. It could have been, if not for a feral vampire preying on the prostitutes of ‘his’ quarter, killing the boys of the Marais one by one.

When Connor invites a newly arrived hooker to stay on his houseboat, the last thing he expects is Michel to be a member of the Brigade Criminelle – a troubled, hunky rookie cop sent undercover to explore Connor’s connection to the murders, picked mostly because he had been a boy of the Marais himself, not so long ago.

Hiding their true nature becomes a problem for both when their realize there maybe is more to their inital attraction. But in order to bring down the serial killer and maybe have a chance at making their relationship work out, one of them will have to
take the first, critical leap.

My View: I had said, multiple times, that I have a soft spot for stories with rentboys and escorts. I like seeing how they evolved through the story and what caused those changes. In this case, we see a different side of the equation. And combined with an undercover investigation and a werecat, this story has the bones to be great.

This story got me more interested in the mystery aspect than the romance. Yes, it was nice to see how Connor’s and Michel’s feelings developed, but I see them more like a paranormal version of classic superheroes. They want to do good, and both have their secrets. Unknowingly, they’re working to get the same killer down and perhaps, and earlier alliance may have added to the suspense.

The secondary characters in this story are multi-dimensional and fit the story arc. Everyone has a reason to be and help the story move forward. It’s easy to get attached to them, even those we have only met in passing. The settings are interesting and put together in a way we can see the fictitious areas bloom within the real streets of Paris.

My only complaint about this story is the lack of a strong connection between the reasons for the killer to attack and the end result. Yes, we get to know the police’s assumptions and Connor’s, but we don’t get enough from the killer’s perspective. Plus, some of the encounters between Connor and the killer pushed the “reality” boundaries established by the authors.

There’s a small setup for the next book in the series, but not enough to entice a reader to continue reading; unless you read the extra content at the end of the book. Then, you’ll want to know more about the next installment.

What I liked the most: The amount of detail in the descriptions.

I wanted more: Time between Michel and Connor’s cat.

Who should read it: Fans of werecats and humans couples.

ARC provided by the author as part of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group Don’t Buy My Love Program.

Dangerous Territory by Cari Z.

Dangerous TerritoryRate: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Western Romance, Shifters
Publication day: January 13, 2016
Length:  877 locations (.mobi file)
Publisher: Less Than Three Press

With his father barely in the ground and his sister married to a scheming bastard, Carter is on the verge of losing the family ranch. His only chance at holding onto his inheritance is to get his cattle to market before his brother-in-law. That means braving Mason Canyon, which on top of being snake-infested and easily flooded, is also shifter territory. Most clans would just as soon shoot humans as look at them.

His only hope of making it is to trust the shifter who’s agreed to help him, and pray that Rani won’t double-cross him. If Carter doesn’t go he loses everything, and if he doesn’t make it there his family is as good as dead.

My View: I absolutely loved this story– it was a pleasant surprise. Since the very beginning, the reader was pulled toward Carter and his situation. With every detail, we get to feel and stand in his shoes; almost as if experiencing the events through him. His solace and despair were very vivid, as well as his developing relationship with Rani.

Both MCs were interesting and multi-dimensional. Each had a unique personality that evolved through the story. They complemented each other and their journey together, even when short, was perfectly paced to engage the reader into their travels.

All the characters and events had a real purpose, and none were simple placeholders. From the start, we get the sense of a real western setting. The author did a great job combining the lexicon and atmosphere of the Ol’ West. As you read, you can almost hear the twang in the characters’ voices and the difference between the humans and the shifters.

The snakes, the canyon, and the Big Top arrival felt real. The characters were not the only ones in the journey; the readers experience everything with them– from the terrain to the high waters, and Carter’s recovery.

And, the characters relationship just added to an exquisite story. Even removing the romance aspect, Dangerous Territory was a great western read. Their scenes together and how they developed until their mating made the reader want more of their HEA.

What I liked the most: How their relationship transformed and the prospect of their HEA.

I wanted more of: Their future. I wanted to see them together as an everyday couple.

Cover: The cover for this story is beautiful and all encompassing. Everything in it is also part of the story.

Who should read it: Ol’ Western fans.

 ARC received via NetGalley, courtesy of Less Than Three Press, for an honest review.