I liked that Simon and Paul get to know each other, and that Paul bonds with Simon-wolf first. There may be an insta-love (after 4 days only) but since they get to know each other, and talk, and be friends first, it didn't feel like it. I like the pack, although there were too many names, and it is an all-male world only (females cannot be werewolves). Simon and Paul don't rush into sex (full-sex) until the mating. And at least, the pack isn't all gay like it is common in paranormal MM.
Mike and Kellen are two 40-ish guys who met on the internet and share a common love of books.
Mike is still a virgin (in every sense of the word), mostly due to some self-esteem issues. Kellen is a relationship virgin because the idea of depending on another human for comfort and support is frightening. The two meet up in real life, and quickly fall for each other (even though Kellen wasn't about to admit it to himself or anyone else). But the real relationship starts when Kellen has to move back to the house he grew up in to take care of his mother.
Sole Support was definitely hard for me to read, because about 3-4 years ago I was in almost the exact same situation as Kellen. Caregiver burnout is something I still feel the consequences of, even after all these years. I cried a lot while reading this book, but it was a cleansing kind of crying, I think, and I feel lighter now that I've finished it.
Kaje's stories to me always seem more real somehow. With other writers I'm always aware that what I'm reading is fiction, no matter how much I connect with the characters. But I wouldn't be surprised if one day I came to America and met a real Tony, or Mac, or Kellen, or Mike. It's what makes me appreciate and love her stories all the more.
Thar be spoilers!
Have you ever watched a football or baseball or *insert your preferred sport here* game? Then you are familiar with that strange phenomenon where the sports commentator will say something like, "So-and-so has NEVER failed to make this catch!" and then five seconds later on live TV you get to watch so-and-so fail to make that catch and listen to the commentators' protests of disbelief. That was me with this book.
For the first third of this book, this didn't even read like a Kaje Harper book at all. It read like something any new-to-MM author would write. There was this annoying repetition of Brian refusing therapy, Nick worrying about his job (though his guilt about sleeping with Brian while on the job seems to have completely evaporated), Brian and Nick arguing about Brian's skills and needing to keep them secret. Then the MPD figures it out because of Brian wanting to do good and find a missing woman he's seen on TV, and then it becomes a repetition of Brian goes on a Find, Brian being exhausted from the Find, Nick and Brian arguing about how Nick still sees Brian as a broken kid and not a grown up, Nick and Brian having sex (which I largely skipped), lather rinse repeat.
About the only good thing that does happen is Nick getting his ass handed to him on a platter by the MPD because he's such a terrible cop. Of course, then you've got the MPD extorting Brian into using his skills for them with the threat that they'll file charges against him for working for Marston all those years and being an accessory to his crimes. So there's that. Extortion very much is a real world problem, so I had no issues buying this storyline, but it was one unprofessional professional thing on top of another and it annoyed me.
I suppose one could make the argument that Nick being pretty much demoted from cop to "babysitter" should give Nick license to sleep with Brian as much as he wants. He's still wearing a badge though, even if he's not being allowed to use it, so I'm still not okay with it. It should be noted that he does try to quit when the unofficial demotion happens, but he's not allowed to. Still didn't make it okay for me, but YMMV.
The other good thing that happens because of all this is Brian finally gets some counseling and starts to figure out the Brian/Bry thing and what it means and why he does it and how to handle it. I really wish more emphasis had been placed on this instead of all the other ridiculous over the top stupidity that comes up in the last half of the book. This is easily the best part of this book and it's not given the attention it deserves, so it ends up feeling more like a miracle cure you'd expect to encounter on an episode of Star Trek. Brian's not really crazy! It's just a coping mechanism! All you have to do is change your perspective! Wallah! Cured! ... Ok, so he does continue to go to therapy until the Thing happens but we only get to see that one session and it's just not enough, at least not for me.
Then, the Thing. MPD uses up Brian's powers until he passes out and is in the hospital unconscious for a week. Damon shows up to collect him, ties up Nick and disappears with Brian. Nick finally is allowed to quit since he was about to be fired anyway, and the rest of the book is Damon and Lori being awful horrible people who I'm clearly expected to give a crap about despite their complete lack of remorse for anything. (I was mostly annoyed by this because I suspect that Damon and Doc are going to be the couple for book 4, so I was pre-emptively not giving a crap and getting irritated that I was eventually going to be expected to.) Damon does a stupid thing and Brian gets kidnapped, and instead of doing the badass thing that he's always done his entire life up to this point he...calls Nick for help. Which I just couldn't buy that he would do that. Nick of course flies down to help, taking his friend Charlie along with, and they all end up on this ridiculous high-seas chase going after a Columbian drug lord to get Brian and Lori back. It's just so stupid, and the entire time I was reading this nonsense I couldn't help but think that if Nick had just done his job in the first book then none of this would be happening. Instead, Nick, Charlie and Brian and Doc all get caught up in Damon's murder-fest and having to cover it up - not that I'm mourning the deaths of a drug lord and his linchpins but come on! Brian was trying so hard to redeem himself and do good things with his ability, and Nick despite his constant f-ups and his flaws was trying to help him do good, and now they're all going to be wanted for Murder One if they're ever found out, and Brian, Lori and Damon are all having to go into hiding to get away from the evil drug lord's goonies on the off-chance anyone survived the murder-fest to snitch on them.
I did NOT sign up for mafia drama!
And that's the point where I stopped caring for any of these characters or their stupid decisions that get them into stupid situations that they refuse to admit are stupid because...
they had no choice.
Ah, yes. The number one excuse of stupidity everywhere. They had no choice. When actually, they had loads of choices they just didn't want to acknowledge or use because they're stupid! As my queen Buffy once put it so eloquently, "You have a choice. You may not have a good choice, but you have choice." And as my man Dumbledore once put it, "It is our choices, Harry, that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities." And these people be stupid unapologetic asshats.
I had no problem with Lori and Damon stealing for food and money to buy food when they were kids and starving. I can sympathize with that easily. Who wouldn't? But when they start dealing drugs and murdering people and acting like they had no other choice then they lose all sympathy points. Just because the people Damon has killed are scumbag criminals like himself doesn't make it okay. Brian's the only one who feels any kind of remorse over anything that happens here, so I continue to mostly like him, but he's not enough to carry my interests.
I skimmed the last few chapters, which was mostly infighting between Nick and Damon and Lori, and then a somewhat brilliant and somewhat ridiculous resolution to the MPD storyline that allows Nick to finally go to where Brian is in hiding so we get our HFN to lead us into the next book. I won't be reading that one or any others in this series because I can't deal anymore with these people.