Black Meadow Shifters, Book #1
Heat Factor: At a minimum, bordering on too much sex.
Character Chemistry: Literal chemistry. They smell each other and they know they’re mates.
Plot: Scientist develops shifter gene stripping technology. What could possibly go wrong?
Overall: Shifter books are ridiculous and also kind of my favorite thing.
Shifter romance is a thing I had very little experience with prior to starting the blog, which is a tragedy. Shifter romance is AMAZING. Therefore, when I was looking for some smut for our Hispanic Heritage Month / Latinx celebration, I had to have this one. How could I not want to read a book about a scientist who accidentally turns herself into shifter, finds her true mate, and solves a mystery in the meantime? Actually, solves a mystery that arises as a direct result of the science she’s been doing in her off hours. Technicalities.
Let’s see. Dr. Sophia Reese and her sister move to Black Meadows, a safe, little town in the Midwest that’s far from Sophia’s past. As the book opens, Sophia’s sister Julia has been bitten by a rogue werewolf during a walk in the woods, and Julia’s become a werewolf herself. As she undergoes her first shift, Sophia watches with horror and vows that she’ll use her science powers to give her sister the option not to be a shifter.
Six months later… (Really? Six months? Seems like not the amount of time it will take for a genetic breakthrough, right?) Sophia discovers the shifter gene, trips, and accidentally stabs herself with pure lion and pure wolf shifter DNA, thereby becoming a shifter herself. Then, because obviously if you mess with DNA people will want to steal the science for their own nefarious ends, we come to the actual plot. This involves humans, hyena shifters, and a significant amount of sex. I’m not sure that the sex advances the plot, but it’s a large portion of the story, so I feel it shouldn’t be understated.
Okay, so Julia is married to the pack beta, River, who is the brother of the pack alpha, Chase. Sophia has had eyes for Chase ever since he walked into her sister’s hospital room, but she’s terribly shy and she’s also a big, beautiful woman. She just cannot even be in the same room as man-candy Chase, because why would a studly, muscled, alpha werewolf man want a voluptuous geek? For his part, Chase is panting (see what I did there?) for Sophia, but he’s not going to chase (I’m on a roll) a woman who can’t stand to be in the same room with him. Chase is howling (teehee) with frustration and unspent lust.
I’m irrepressibly giggling as I think about this story. Taiden spends pages and pages, chapters even, talking about how shy and withdrawn Sophia is, then she turns into a dual shifter, sheds her shyness in a hot minute, and shacks up with Chase for three days BECAUSE SHE’S IN HEAT.
Because Sophia is half (one third?) cat, she purrs and curls herself around Chase, who is like, “I don’t know where this shifter in heat came from but I am more than willing to shack up until her heat is over–and mate with her forever–when her human brain surfaces and consents, of course.” Um, where did your shy go, Sophia?
Anyway. After all this amazingosity (I still cannot get over it. I don’t even care if anything else made sense, the female shifter in heat was everything I’ve ever wanted but didn’t know it.), we move on. Sort of. There continues to be a ridiculous amount of sex. Like, hi, someone is not only trying to steal Sophia’s research, but is also ransacking houses and blowing up doors and kidnapping pack members to force Sophia to give up the research…do you really have time and energy for all the sex? It is a very good stress reliever at the end of a rough day. I’ll give them that. Plus I suppose we can allow for the horniness accompanying finally getting to jump in the sack with the person you’ve been fantasizing about since you met them. Six months ago. That’s a lot of fantasies.
If I’m so over the moon about some things in this book, why isn’t it a recommended read? Well, generally speaking, the suspense plot was fine, but it didn’t thrill me. When I picked it up, and even in the first couple chapters where we were all getting super clear that Sophia is really shy and doesn’t stand a chance with a hottie like Chase, I had thought that we were going to have a story about this relationship and becoming a shifter. I clearly have not read enough of this awesome sub-genre because I really should have understood that it doesn’t matter how shy one is if one automatically has a perfect mate that is simply found using smell, and what’s the point of dating or romance at that point because insta-love is just as good. Obviously.
For real, do not read this book for the romance. The sex? Yes, sure. If you don’t need some kind of slow burn emotional connection, because you 100% will not get that. Alternatively read it for the suspense plot. It’s kinda bonkers, but it’s also a good time. I do agree with Holly that romance is not really the place to get your suspense fix, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with it. Also, Sophia has (frankly realistic, IMO) hangups about her weight, and I understand that some readers are looking for a BBW story in which the heroine really embraces herself without those hangups. In that context I think Sophia does mostly accept herself, she just doesn’t think Brad Pitt is going to come calling (who is the next generation’s Brad Pitt, BTW?) and she tells herself she shouldn’t eat so much… While eating. See? Realistic.
Really, just read it because all the macho alpha werewolf behavior and the biting to mate and the sniffing people and things and the humans-but-not in heat is amazing.
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