Author: Tempeste O’Reily
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Lynx shifter Trace Wilson’s fun-loving exterior hides a heart scarred by severe domestic violence—a heart that might not ever trust another male, fated mate or not. When Trace moves to Seattle to take his place as trainer and council representative to the Glacier Rim Tribe, he discovers his mate is the vampire prince Sasha Tolstoi, leader of the Konstantin Coven. It’s not something Trace is ready to accept. Not now, maybe not ever. But if there’s one thing Sasha knows how to do, it’s how to be patient, especially when his fated heart is also his perfect sub.
When an outside force threatens the fragile bond slowly forming between them—and nearly kills Trace—Trace’s instincts shift into high gear. Sasha is powerful, and that means he has enemies, among them several rival covens and an uncle determined to force Sasha into a marriage with a vampire princess. But why involve the lynx Trace in their maneuvering? Finding the culprit won’t be easy, and it will mean building trust—a slow and difficult prospect for someone who’s suffered as much as Trace. Finding a way to move beyond the past, and to love, before those out to finish Sasha can destroy either, is a race the two fated hearts have to win.
For the first half of this book or so, I figured it would be a solid three star read. I wasn’t loving it, but it was mostly fine. But by the end all their formal flowery language, all the talking in circles, all the nonsense, was becoming tiresome and I finally started skimming.
The characters in this book have a very odd mix of old-world formal and new-world slang, that I didn’t feel were balanced well. For example, after one of the ‘servant-class’ went into a long drawn out explanation for Trace on why he insists on calling Trace ‘Sir’ and that’s how their society is and it works for them… he then said “Dayum! Remind me not to get on your bad side” about a comment Trace made threatening abusers. If you’re society is so concerned with propriety and formality, you would not speak to a new employer/master/whatever in such a casual manner. Heck, I wouldn’t talk to a new employer so casually! It just felt awkward all around.
This contributed somewhat to the talking in circles. People explained things over and over again with no new information coming out of it. A personal pet peeve of mine is when a supernatural character explains something supernatural… to other supernaturals! Granted, they might not know everything about other species. But I’m talking about a shifter telling another shifter, “well, because we have advanced healing, the wound won’t form a scar, and as you know, we can only scar when the wound is from a mating bite” (that’s not true but an example of how they talk). They said that a lot, “as you know” and then preceded to tell them what they already knew. I get that we the reader don’t know, but this was not an effective way to give us information.
Everything just felt very flat. Given the trauma (we were told) Trace went through, this should have had more of a hurt/comfort feel. But everything was at a distance. Despite them talking about it I don’t actually know anything about Ford, their relationship, how it became abusive, how Trace was injured, or the course of events that followed. Only that Duncan saved his life, he has scars from it, and Ford is dead now. He and Sasha should have talked about it.
Sort of related to that, the BDSM element of this also felt very awkward and forced to me. Sasha said all Royal vamps are instinctually Doms, yet everyone was trying to pair him up with Tatiana, so how would a sexual relationship between two Doms work? And again, given Trace’s abuse, he certainly could have felt safe again getting into a BDSM relationship. But I wanted to see his struggle, I wanted to see Sasha show him how he can be safe submitting again, I wanted them to talk about it! But everyone just badgered Trace until he changed his mind and was like, “okay, now I want this.” It wasn’t a believable transition to me.
So yeah, that’s that. I used to love any and all shifter books, but I’m becoming much more discerning. It was all just so easy and surface level. There were so many missed opportunities to bring depth to these characters and their relationship. Instead, outside influences are used to push things along time and time again (even with a random and unrelated Hail Mary event at the end) I’m sure plenty of people will like this well enough, but I felt zero emotional connection to the characters and no strong feelings were elicited even given Trace’s previous abusive situation. Which is saying something.