Rav Miller looked into the terrified, intelligent eyes of the chocolate Labrador on death row, and knew he’d do anything to save him. When the dog, Sammy, escapes and heads to Mad Creek, Rav follows. Mad Creek. The town had become legendary in Rav’s mind after he’d met that bizarre group last year. Rav dismissed his crazy suspicions back then, but when he arrives in Mad Creek, he knows it’s true. Dog shifters exist, and apparently they all live in the California mountains. It’s enough to blow a bad boy’s mind.
Sammy has something in common with Rav—neither one of them trusts people. After Sammy’s abuse as a dog, he particularly dislikes tough-looking men like Rav. But when Sammy gets a chance to work with rescued dogs at the new Mad Creek shelter, his deep compulsion to help others overcomes his fear. Rav and Sammy bond over saving strays. If they can each find the courage to let someone else in, they might find their way to love.
Sheriff Lance Beaufort doesn’t like humans moving into Mad Creek, especially not the tattooed and defiant Rav. When Rav starts a rescue shelter, the town thinks he’s wonderful! But Lance isn’t fooled. He doesn’t buy Rav’s innocent act for one second. How much does Rav know about the quickened? What is his game? And why did he have to show up now, when Lance and the other town leaders are overwhelmed by all the new quickened pouring in?
Rav knows how to save a life. But can he save an entire town? Can he rescue Mad Creek?
Review by Barb:
Not even through the first chapter and I’m crying. I love dogs! I love Eli Easton! I love this series!
Eli Easton very cleverly began the story with the POV of Sammy, the Labrador Retreiver who is at first abused and then taken to a shelter where the days are counting down and he’s nearing the euthanasia date. Sammy is afraid of men, because of the man who abused him, so he’s considered difficult to adopt. But Sammy is of above average intelligence, and he remembers his first owner, a woman he deeply loved. Focusing on that, little does he realize he’s about to become one of the quickened—dogs that become human—usually due to having been deeply loved.
From that first chapter, I was hooked as Sammy was first taken to a no-kill shelter run by a nice man named Rav Miller. But Sammy wasn’t interested in staying there so he escaped and found his way to Mad Creek, based on a tip from a dog named Rex who was briefly in the shelter with him and recognized his human side. We first met Rav and his shelter in the desert in book three, How to Wish Upon a Star, when Milo and Jonah showed up to find a group of missing dogs from Mad Creek, and I’m so glad the author decided to give him this story. A true friend of dogs everywhere, Rav uses chip technology to track Sammy to Mad Creek and once there, based on his knowledge of dogs and his observations of people in the town, he realizes that against what he’s always known to be reality, these people exhibit the features and behaviors of dogs. And when he finds Sammy, in the form of a cute adult male with big golden-brown eyes, his suspicions are confirmed.
This is a love story, no doubt about that. But it’s also a journey to maturity for Sammy as we witness his awakening as a human, his struggles to learn human habits and to read and write and then hone skills many of us take for granted. The story is told with humor at every turn—both subtle and in-your-face-slapstick with hokey jokes told mostly by Sammy. It’s a journey for Rav as well—though his is subtler—as he discovers more about himself and manages to come to peace with his past and merge the best of that past into a new future with Sammy.
And it’s also a journey for the town as the quicken population is growing and the town’s population growth is placing a huge financial burden on the town and an emotional and physical burden on Sheriff Lance Beaufort, who happens to be a border collie and takes his shepherding role in the town very seriously. Rav has a solution to some very real problems but can they trust him with the secrets of the quicken population? And can Sammy finally mature enough to get past the physical limitations of having been a neutered male dog so that he and Rav can truly become mates in every way?
Be prepared to cry at some of the poignantly sad scenes related to the overpopulation of shelter dogs and Sammy’s own story, but be prepared to laugh out loud, long and heartily, at some of the antics of people who spent most of their lives as dogs, and of someone like Sammy who really has no mouth filter, i.e., hasn’t been tarnished by what society expects. I can’t recommend this story highly enough for a positively enjoyable way to spend a day or two. I couldn’t put it down. The entire series is amazing and this one is just the icing on the cake. I sure hope it’s not over, because entertainment like this is pretty hard to come by, and I want more, more, more!
Eli Easton has been at various times and under different names a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, an organic farmer, and a long-distance walker. She began writing m/m romance in 2013 and has published 27 books since then. She hopes to write many more.
As an avid reader of such, she is tickled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, two bulldogs, several cows, and a cat. All of them (except for the husband) are female, hence explaining the naked men that have taken up residence in her latest fiction writing.
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