I read the blurb on this story and thought the background of the characters and the shifter world building made it sound interesting. The heroine is a former therapist to shifters and left her position because she got burned out because in this shifter world building males can’t help the mating pull and females have a choice. The thing that should have flagged me was that the blurb also said the heroine wanted nothing to do with mating for herself because she was afraid of she or her mate dealing with what happened when the mate died. And so any dissatisfaction I felt reading this one is on me. The writing is good, the characters were well developed, and the plot was decent. The world building about the fated mate was fascinating and creative.
The story begins when Aidan is dealing with his friend, Liam, going through the grief called Dsertion when he marks his mate, but gets rejected. Liam goes into a catatonic state so Aidan calls on a specialist, Dr. Jaylin Avgar, to help him. She reluctantly agrees to come.
Jaylin, a half shifter half human therapist, made the decision to stop including shifters as part of her caseload. She can’t handle the heartbreaking stuff they go through as a result of their mating issues. Her heart is tender and she can’t in good conscience resist helping the traumatized shifter who is only a short drive away when there are no other specialists close enough. When she gets there to the cabin in the woods to help Liam, Jaylin is bowled over by her instant attraction to his friend, Aidan. Aidan is obviously in the same state she notices. She wants to runaway fast even though she stays for Liam’s sake.
Thus begins the cat and mouse game when Aidan tries to convince Jaylin that she is his mate and they should be together. She puts up walls and he scrambles to quickly tear them down. When she really digs in and denies all the obvious, he pulls out his old hated persona and plays hardball with her. His move does have the desired results, but even then she’s still willing to pull back. It takes a tragic circumstance to open her eyes, but it might be too late.
As I said before, there are many really wonderful elements to this story, but there are a few things that really annoyed me. Good elements were the worldbuilding particularly the side story about Liam’s tragic love affair and the enjoyable storytelling style. I am so curious about Britton’s reasons for distancing himself from his own shifter world. I loved the changes in perspective that allowed me into everyone’s heads to see what they were thinking. I liked most of the characters.
Unfortunately, one of the annoyances was a biggie. I didn’t like the heroine much of the time. This gal is so far up the River Denial that she’s exploring the headwaters. I was okay with this at the beginning until it went on too long for me. The other issue about her that angered me was that she of all people shouldn’t have been so ignorant about the truth since she not only grew up in a loving family home with a shifter for a parent and knew other shifters and half-shifters, but she also had a nice dandy higher education that should have kept her open and objective. Nope, didn’t help because she willfully saw what she wanted to see (and to be fair, later she admits this). Truthfully, I found it ironic that a therapist was in need of therapy. This was obvious to me from the beginning. She spouted that she’d only take a human mate because of not wanting to deal with the death issue and the old phrase about the only things you can count on being death and taxes kept cycling through my head (hello honey, humans die too; bereft humans grieve too). Even her friend observed that she really shouldn’t be closing herself off the way she was. I just can’t understand the difference that she draws the line over. So the fact that much of the story was about her running as hard and as fast as she could from Aidan and her own feelings just irritated the heck out of me. It was late in the book when she had the epiphenal moment of ‘oh, wow how did I not see the truth before?’ and I could only role my eyes. I also was none to pleased from a few times when her behavior came across as a cruel tease- hot & cold, come hither physical displays while her mouth still said ‘no’. I doubt the author intended for her to appear that way and Jaylin’s tender side kept me from really believing it, but yet again it was still harming Aidan and making it harder for him. Now just to be clear, I wouldn’t have been upset if this was about her telling a guy ‘no’ and having no interest in him, but it was obvious even in their first encounter and afterward being privy to her internal monologue that she was just as interested as he was. He knew her feelings were as strong as his own which is why he pushed.
Alright, I’ll wrap up my thoughts with this. Yes, I went on and on about what irritated me, but I also want to leave the last impression to be that this is an enjoyable read that had many wonderful qualities balancing things out. What bothered me may not bother someone else. I would definitely read a book about Aidan’s friends Liam or Brit or Jaylin’s friend Pam because the author is a good storyteller. I recommend this to those who love steamy shifter romance and want to delve into a new shifter world with a unique idea about the destined mate.