Author: Meghan Maslow
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: MM Paranormal
Summary: Jiri’s life has been one misery after the next. A cobra shifter, he’s held captive by a collector who keeps him—and other shifters—in a private harem-style “zoo” in the Libyan desert. Considered a dangerous predator by the other shifters, and little more than a boy toy to the collector, Jiri is friendless, timid, and despondent.
Miksa is the collector’s latest find. But honey badgers are known for their bad attitude, fearlessness, and fighting spirit. Miksa has no doubt he’ll escape, even if it means taking the whole zoo down with him.
When honey badger and cobra meet, there should be instant enmity—after all, honey badgers eat cobras—yet both men find themselves oddly drawn to the other. Romance blossoms, but can it survive captivity and beyond? In order to do so, Jiri will have to find a strength he doesn’t know he possesses and Miksa will have to open a heart long closed to anyone except his immediate family
Review: Interesting take on a slave story, as Demetrius, the collector, only has shifters in his harem. He has had Jiri, a cobra shifter, since he was a child, sold into the collection. Jiri is the pleasure slave of Demetrius and knows no other life. He abhors the collector, the zoo and what happens there. The other shifters don’t talk to him and he is fearful and shy. Demetrius makes Jiri wear a hood so he can’t mesmerize. He is well and truly enslaved.
A new addition to the zoo comes in the form of Miksa, a honey badger who is fierce, volatile and so very angry about being there. Honey badgers eat cobras, so this is a set up for disaster. Miksa might actually have a chance of escape if he can keep his head about him. The collector has a cruel way of ensuring his keeps his zoo – he collars them and they can’t shift. They are allowed to shift only in the arena, where he pits shifter against shifter.
Jiri has more freedom than some of the others and so he is able to get to know Miksa a bit. He and the honey badger form an unusual sort of friendship, the hooded, hurt cobra and the violent honey badger. When a guard, a hyena shifter, wants Jiri, it is Miksa who protects him. And when that same guard punishes Miksa, it is Jiri who helps.
My heart hurt for Jiri, who is so lonely and so isolated, doing what he can to survive. Miksa really doesn’t understand. “Besides, I’d rather die than let that bastard Demetrius keep me as a pet.” He hurts Jiri with his misunderstanding.
Jiri knows he is merely a diversion for Miksa, something to pass the time until he can escape but Jiri will help him do that. He is a lovely character, kind, gentle and not as soft as he appears. The only quibble I had with the story is the ending sort of cut off. Where are the rest of the hyenas? What happens next?