4.5 stars (when compared to others of this type of story, a shifter romance series)
This book was a typical formulaic shifter romance but surprisingly much higher quality than most. It was funny in parts, dramatic in others. There was a lot of action and suspense and of course near-death and injury, my favorite. (I've never denied that I'm a sick woman.) Although it was predictable, I really liked the characters. The heroes that were key in this story, Keeton, Braxton, and Xander, were all individuals and each had a different voice.
I do love me some hospital scenes and the book delivers right from the beginning. Braxton's injury at the start is simply from fainting and I think the medical issues were a bit extreme for that but it was a refreshing change. The norm in action series is that when someone gets hit by a car, for example, is able to stand up and keep running. Yet later in the book
when he's strangled to the point of almost passing out, no mention is made of possible windpipe damage or how sore he would be and how difficult it would be to talk for a while.
Braxton doesn't automatically accept the shifter world and fated mates, either, which I really liked. "I mean, I don't even get a choice? Fate just decides that some random person is meant for me, and that's it?"
Another thing I really liked is that the shifters in the house (which I'm sure each book in the series will be about another one of them) are all bi. That stops the whole GFY issues which in books like this annoy me. I can handle it in a long, well plotted and thought out novel where it can be handled with sensitivity but these stories are just too short to make it believable for me at all. Plus, it's SO rare that people are bi. GFY people turn out to be either gay or it's GFY OFY.
I don't like when an adult partner is referred to as "being a handful" or told to behave or referred to as a brat. That's treating them like a child and it's always said by the big guy to the little guy. (Yes, as standard, all the main characters in the house are huge and the love interests are little.) There was some of that here and it bothered me but then came this passage which I really appreciated:
"Okay so he needed to cut Xander some slack, but damnit, he wasn't a child, and he wasn't some damsel in diestress. He didn't need someone to swoop in and save the day, or spirit him away from the caslte undersiege, and he certianly didn't need soeone else to fight his battles for him.
He appreciated that Xander wanted to keep him safe, take care of him even. Braxton knew he was smaller, not as physically strong as most men. He had a tendency to be overly sensitive, and he wore his emotions on his sleeve. Did Xander see him as less of a man because of those things?"
And this one:
"'I told you to stay,' Xander shot at him immediately.
'Actually, you told me to sit, but either way, like I said downstairs, I am not a dog. Nor am I a child.' Braxton crossed his arms. 'So, you can take your commands and go fuck yourself with them.'"
I even liked Xander's response:
"'You are acting like a child, which is why I am treating you like a child.'"
(Braxton really was acting immature.) It showed that Xander didn't think of his mate as a child, he was just frustrated and angry because Braxton was being an idiot (which he was) and was just trying to keep him safe. Usually in these books when the little guy protests, the bigger guy and his friends say the guy is a little spitfire or a handful. This was an adult argument between equals who are pissed off at each other.
Overall, I enjoyed this immensely and couldn't put it down for anything. My bladder was furious with me.
The next relationship is obvious because of course it's going to be the best friend with the one guy that was elsewhere when Keeton met the rest of the shifters in the house. I am looking forward to their story in the next book. This is a nice long series--ten books-- which is nice, but books four and five are both menage stories. I really dislike it when series I love branch off into that and two in a row is really frustrating. I have to read them to know what happens later in the series. Seriously, there are entire series devoted to menage couples. Why do I have to deal with them in my regular stories? It's as weird as if they suddenly put a BDSM story in the middle. (There is very light BDSM in this book done just in the bedroom.)
Compared with other books of this subgenre, this is a 4.5 and I'm rounding up because of the way the book handled the whole treating like a child thing.