Review: Shift in Time — by Mercy Celeste

shift-in-timeOther Reviewers: Goodreads

This is an advance reader copy given to me by the author for an honest review.  As with all of my review, these are my own opinions.

One of my favorite books is Mercy Celeste’s Behind Iron Lace.  While the book was fairly short with lots of sex, it managed to pull me quickly into the story and the accurate description of the muggy deep south summer weather had me smiling.  So, when asked to review this book, I hoped that I would enjoy this book just as much.

Basic Plot:

Morgan Monstros comes from a family of witches, but is considered a “normal”.  And in this case, normal is not good.  Morgan has always felt like his life was bland in a world of flavor, but never felt he deserved a chance to thrive.  While taking care of his sister’s cat, Morgan discovers something unusual:  he can understand him!  What we discover is that the cat’s name is Fane — who is really a human.  Will Morgan be able to have a normal relationship or will outside forces hamper it?

Morgan Monstros:

From the start we feel badly for Morgan.  He is a “normal”, a word that demonstrates how beneath he is from the rest of his magical society.  He remains on this isolated island taking care of the family inn.  He has no protection from magic and we can see how vulnerable this makes him feel:

“I thought you weren’t poking around in my head.”  Betrayal, that’s what it was.  He had none of her talent, none of any of his sisters’ talents.  The one true normal in the family, and they all used it against him.

We can easily relate to Morgan, someone who feels like he disappoints his family and will never fit-in.

Fane Llewellyn:

Celeste did an excellent job with her depiction of Fane’s change from cat to human.  In science-fiction so often the extreme situations are so impractical that the reader will roll their eyes.  But the confusion and frustration that Fane goes through makes sense.

“I am fine.  I am cat.  I play at night.”  Fane replied, knowing he wasn’t cat anymore.  Most nights he really preferred a warm place to cuddle.  The past few nights had been with Gan.  Tonight, he didn’t know why  he felt the need to run.  “The moon calls to me.  Gan should not sleep in short johns.”

I loved how we understand how Fane struggles both by time, but also by the curse of the shift.  This struggle with the curse is something we can compare with the theme of sexuality.

Theme Summary:

I see the theme of Morgan and Fane’s struggle with not fitting into their society as a metaphor for those who struggle with their sexual identity.  We have two men who can not control their differences with their society and because of these differences they are shunned.  In fact, their lives are in danger.  While dramatic here, look at teen suicide and sexual identity.  Early on we see Morgan’s struggle:

“I had no choice.”  Morgan’s voice broke as he spoke.  He cleared his throat.  “Males are rare in our world.  We must marry a female.  We must have children.  We must carry on the magick into the next generation.  I was made to choose that or chastity.  To spill my seed in the body of a man is an abomination.”

In addition, Fane, has been “forced” to change (by the curse) and his quality of life is less than what it could be.  He has loss his specialness (I do not want to spoil part of the plot), but by Morgan breaking the curse, he is allowed to find is true shape/spirit.

I would actually recommend this book to those who struggle with their sexuality.  It is not a book that has any ground-breaking teenage moments, but I think that someone who does grapple can relate to the uncertainty and despair.

Strong Points:

I enjoyed the building of the “mystery” and how we, as the reader, slowly come to understand the background of Morgan and Fane.  The initial struggle seems silly until we understand the true struggle of our heroes.

What could be better?

There is a lot of sex, and while the sex was awesome, toward the end I actually skipped it.  The balance of sex and plot is a delicate one, and Celeste tends to write a lot of sex in her novels.

Conclusions:

I truly enjoyed this book.  I have a feeling that I got a lot more of out of the theme than some other reviewers on Goodreads, but that’s ok.  Sometimes you have to understand that while a book might be short and have a lot sex, it does not mean that there is not more complexity.  I would certainly recommend this book and I will go and check-out some more works of Mercy Celeste.

Bea

Review: Enemy Lines — by qhuinn (Tekla)

Enemy_LInesWhen I am feeling stressed or depressed, I go to my comfort books.  And this week, despite the fact that I have three Advance Reader Copies to read and complete reports, I just wanted to read about Sterek.

I have written about Fan Fiction before, and certainly about my love for Sterek classics like DILF.  I’ve been reading Fan-Fiction since June of this year, and it’s a great way to get to read a lot of great free books.  If you want to know anything about the phenomena of Sterek from Teen Wolf, then Tumblr is the place to go.

I have read most of my fan-fiction over at Archive of Our Own, their search methods are great.  If you want to know more about the Sterek fan base or fan fiction then start by following Cole the Wolf, Dira, and Twentysomething.

The fictions can range from being very similar plot wise to the show or more like porn with questionable plot.  I have read some excellent books that I think could be published, and then I have found some to be so sophomoric in nature that they read like stereotypical by preen-teens day dreams. No offense to preen-teens who are probably excellent writers.

This week’s blog post is specifically about a book called Enemy Lines, by qhuinn (Tekla).  You can find the direct link here to the fiction at AO3.

Basic Plot:

This is an Alternate Universe (meaning while the characters are similar, they are not set in the similar environment that the original source).  The world is a human versus werewolf setting, so think a post apocalyptic setting.  A war has broken out and cities have been captured by the werewolves.  The town of Beacon Hill is human based and controlled by the Argents, with Stiles’ father, the Sheriff is siding.  Derek and his pack come back into town with vengeance in mind, starting with Sheriff Stilinski.  Stiles is taken instead, and while now there is more than just a war between species, there is a civil war brewing on both sides.  Will Stiles and Derek survive?

Stiles Stilinski:

While this is an alternate, character of Stiles is very similar to the original Teen Wolf one.  His morals and actions, I found to be similar and believable.  What drives Stiles, his every action is to protect his family.  In his case, this is his father the Sheriff.

The guilt roots and twists inside of him and he no longer wants to tell his father, not because he wants to protect him, but because he thinks his father will blame him.  Because it was Stiles’ fault.  All of it.  And he knows.  So how couldn’t his did if he knew the truth, too?

This guilt (misplaced) is what drives most of the plot from Stiles’ perspective.  I found that I could relate to his character and his reactions to events were exactly as how I would react.

Derek Hale:

Ahhhhh Derek, our poor tortured Alpha.  Derek is typically portrayed here.  Early on in the story as the two men meet, we can see how focused Derek is on his mission:

This human has been bathing in regrets and mourning for a long time.  It should be easy to break him in order to gather information.

“The dog breath will kill me first if you guys take too much longer,” the human huffs in a show of exasperation.  And that’s when Derek recognizes him.

It’s been years since he last saw Mrs. Stilinski’s son, but Derek can still see her in this gawky boy — especially her defiant nature.

We see Derek as the result of the horror of his childhood and the death of his family by the Argents and the subsequent years of war.  He is hardened, and this can be seen in the previous scene.

Theme Summary:

Part of this can be seen in the title of the novel, Enemy Lines.  In an obvious sense, we have two men who find each other literally “behind enemy lines,” and they both cross emotional and physical boundaries to find each other.

Stiles never thought he’d find his place in this world when he was once dragged behind enemy lines.

But for me, this is too obvious, and I found the theme to surround more of the responsibility of duty.  For Derek, he has become an Alpha, following his Alpha uncle Peter for the war.  He has to decide of his lust for revenge and following the chain of command is worth it, is the man he has become worth what it is doing to his soul?  On the other hand, Stiles must move past the his traumatic past and accept the man he has become.  Neither men  is safe in either society and neither wants to be a part of what is unfolding.

Strong Points:

The writing within this novel is very strong, I could see this being published with very little changes needed.  The plot is consistent and the pacing is steady.  There were very few times when I wanted to skip ahead.

What could be better?

The bad characters, are very flat and very evil.  So while they were stereotypical, and they fit with the series.

Conclusions:

Overall, this is one of my favorite Sterek fan-fictions.  I love how original the plot is and how dynamic the culture is.  We get vibrant descriptions and well written dialogue here.  I will certainly be looking up further novels by this author.

Bea

Review: Primal Law by J.D.Tyler

 

 

Intro:

I found this book through Goodreads when I was looking for a new series to start this week.  The concept behind the series seemed interesting and intriguing enough.  I read the sample and was hooked to read the book.

 

Basic Plot:

Basic plot is that Kira Locke (working in a medical lab company called NewLife Technology) finds something suspicious in the lab, steals it and gets caught while running away.  Enter our Alpha stud Jaxon Law who rescues her but unveils his wolfy traits in her defense.  He takes her back to the compound and high jinx ensues when they realize that her problems are related to his Alpha Pack top-secret team.  Will their budding love survive the dangers and threats the team faces?

 

Background:

Basically Jaxon and his Navy SEAL team five years ago were attacked and a good deal of his team members were turned into werewolves and the rest were killed.  6 months ago the new Alpha Pack was betrayed and Jax was left crippled and his team nearly wiped out.  Now he has a new team leader, Nick, and new team members.  Enter our hot lab assistant, Kira and we see how a human tries to fit into this paranormal world.

There are other creatures, like Necromancers, Seelies (Fairies), other shape shifters, and a gremlin.  I imagine that we will get to explore this entire world throughout the series and not just the Alpha Pack.

 

Female Lead:

We begin the book watching as Kira Locke is “liberating” data and samples from her workplace to research what she suspects is something unethical.  We instantly can tell that this is a woman who is passionate and courageous, even when faced with danger and handcuffs.  Throughout the book we are shown how “Pollyanna” she is, always seeing the best in people, and reaching individuals that others just could not reach.

I imagine that all of us have some naïveté within ourselves that we can identify within Kira.  A quote from our heroine:

“That’s not fair!  What kind of monsters are you all to play judge and jury over creatures that aren’t even human?  They can’t possibly understand what’s happening to them!  They’re probably confused and frightened!”

What I found a bit limiting on this character was her ability to bounce into the relationship and the paranormal world so quickly.  It seemed to me that she and Jax did jump into bed rather hurriedly, but that is typical in “Alpha wolf” type of romances where the male finds his mate and they have unbridled passion.

 

Male Lead:

Our first introduction to Jax is our flash back to how his team was attacked and betrayed.  We see a man who is afraid to trust in women, but also in love.  He finds Kira alluring and he itches to be with her.  They jump pretty quickly into bed with each other, but then we spend time while they torture each other (and us) while they decide if they will fight fate.  Kira describes him:

His spiky black hair seemed to defy gravity, somehow arranging itself into an artfully messy style that reminded her of tangled sheets.  Dark brows were arched above a prominent nose and full mouth with lush lips.  His ears each bore a piercing of a shiny black stud.  His jaw was strong, dusky with a five o’clock shadow, and a soul patch graced his chin.  Normally she preferred men without facial hair, but on this guy? It fit him.

No, not pretty at all.

Raw. Stunning. Untamed.

He is the typical Alpha male aggressive type, one that fights to with all other males who look and touch “his female”.  This does get old after a few times.

 

Theme Summary:

Other than the theme of rebirth (as we see Jax’s faith rebirth with his love of Kira), I find another deeper theme.  Carpe Diem, because no matter how much you might want to change things in the past it will never be improved.  A quote from our male lead:

“Because the perfect moment can never be improved, and should be remembered, cherished, just the way it was.  Like every moment I spend in your arms.”

Imagine then a moment in your own life when at the time you thought something was going to happen a certain way and instead something else happened.  It was not the way planned, but looking back it was so perfect?

My husband had this elaborate plan to propose to me when I flew up to see him.  There was a local lake and a park; he was going to propose as the sun was setting.  It all sounded very beautiful and romantic.

But after I arrived off the plane, all I wanted to do was spend time with him and snuggle.  So, what we ended up having a romantic dinner in his apartment while he proposed.  And what I remember is feeling so loved and so cherished while he proposed and Elton John’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” playing in the background.  Was it the planned event? No, but the memory is one of perfection I would not change.

 

Strong Points:

The strong points I found within this book were the sense of humor of our team members.  For example, after Jax has done something Alpha male and she replies tartly:

“Well, that was fun,” She said stiffly, glaring at Jax.  “Next time why don’t you hike your leg on me like I’m a friggin tree?”

I really enjoyed the secondary characters and I found myself sometimes interested in their plot points more than the actual main two characters of Jaxon and Kira.

 

What could be better?

This book is not perfect; there were serious problems that I still struggle.  For example, at one point we find out that Kira must mate with Jaxon or something dire would happen.  I truly hate when some sort of plot device (usually in the paranormal romance) forces our female lead to sleep and mate with our hero or he dies.  It seems like such a tropey and lazy plot device.  Could we not think of something better?

 

Another problem was the end of the book, and so not to spoil anything I will not go into details.  However, his boss basically gives Jaxon trouble for a decision that I cannot even believe is questioned.

 

Also, I found myself interested more in the secondary players like the Seelie and the Necromancer more than our main characters, which is not a good sign.

 

Conclusions:

This is the first novel I have read by this author.  My judgment is still out on both the book and the author.  I think I enjoyed the book, but my two problems with the story telling goes so deep that I am not sure if I will read another in the series.  But on the other hand, I am still thinking about this book after I have read it, so there must be something to it.  It is an easy read and you will enjoy the camaraderie of the Alpha Team.

 

 

Bea

Review: Darkness Everlasting by Alexandra Ivy

Intro:

I mentioned on the landing page how there are various types of vampire lore, ranging from undead, demons, or just different species.  I also mentioned that this series does not just cover vampires, but other paranormal creatures as well.  I began this series from the beginning, but I believe it is possible to skip around.   There is enough reference in later books when another character enters the scene.

Basic Plot:

Styx the vampire Anasso (think King) kidnaps Darcy because he is suspicious of why the werewolf leader (Salvatore Giuliani) wants her.  Darcy awakens within Styx romantic and possessive feelings that he never knew he could feel.  Darcy finds this stoic male compelling and intriguing.  Danger comes close to Darcy from several levels and Styx must fight to protect her.

Background:

This world is enormous, and vampires are not the only powerful paranormal creatures.  Historically, vampires have been savage creatures, rarely working together but fighting for supremacy, but with Styx’s lead he hopes to advance the species.  Styx describes their history:

Of course, she had no notion of the endless years of barbaric hostilities they had endured.  Or the brutal slaughter of hapless demons caught in the fray.

But how is a human made a vampire?  Not every human bitten becomes ones; in fact it is a rare thing.  Humans can be converted and then become demons themselves:

“Most die, of course, but on rare occasions a human will share enough of the vampire’s essence to rise again.  There is no way to know which human will survive and which will perish.”

This series shares the concept that vampires are more animalistic than humans.  Demons, they are no longer humans, no longer recalling their lives as humans.  This makes their personalities completely different, their values and morals nothing like what humans would consider essential.

Female Lead:

So, understanding how the mindset that the vampire world has, we see Darcy enter, a human who has no experience with anything paranormal.  She has no idea that werewolves or vampires exists, so in many ways she represents the reader.  As we learn about this world so does she.

I loved Darcy!  She is emotional, practical, and funny.  I adore her sassy mouth and she would say things that I could utterly relate.  Early on we see her spunkiness:

“Look, I’ve tried not to become one of those hysterical women who flap their hands and faint on cue, but if you don’t start telling me who you are and why I’m here, I’m going to scream until I get some answers.”

Her irreverence and gentleness of spirit is what draws Styx to her, and watching him fight that attraction is what makes this book so wonderful to me.

Male Lead:

I must admit, that Styx is one of my favorite male vampires, no matter which series.  There is something about him, his loneliness, his anti-social behavior, his gentleness with Darcy, and his violent skills just compels me.  To me, he is the epitome of the demon vampire, fighting the normal vampire tendencies to be the man who Darcy wants.  Darcy describes him:

The beautiful bronzed features took on that aloof expression.  It was an expression she was beginning to suspect he used as an unconscious defensive mechanism.

His devotion to Darcy puts him on top of my list of favorite male vampires is illustrated toward the end of the novel.  I do not want to give it away, but you will know it when you read it.

Theme Summary:

The main theme within this book revolves around family.  Darcy has always been alone, never knowing whom her family is.  She discovers her true family and has to make a decision on if they are worth knowing.  Styx on the other hands has no family as he has been reborn as a demon.  He creates his family by his surrounding vampires and his Ravens.  However, truly, they both discover that together, they can make their own family.

Strong Points:

This vampire world is different from many, and I love the concept of the clan markings and the mark of a “true mating”.  I love the mystical aspect of the markings, giving Ivy’s world a uniqueness that we do not see in others.  I also loved the vampire culture, how principles are different and we see how it contrasts with humanity with the introduction of Darcy.  The intricacies of this world draw the reader in and each book adds texture to the tapestry.

What could be better?

There is very little that could be better in this book.  There was enough mystery that I turned the pages in eagerness until the end and the relationship development is compelling as they discover each other.

However, when I consider this series as a whole there are highs and lows. I have enjoyed every book, but there are only two books that I have read repeatedly (this one and Jagr’s).  I am not sure why the other books were not as compelling, whether it is the lead characters’ personalities or the lore.

Conclusions:

If you like paranormal romances, then this series is a must read.  If you find that other books (this is Book 3) in this series are not compelling, try this book.  I enjoyed the character development of both and the romance was hot and spicy.  Well worth the read!

Bea

Guardians of Eternity by Alexandra Ivy

I have reviewed several vampire series, so I will not go through what makes a good series to me.  Look at the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series, Breed Series, and the Vampires in America Series for my opinions.  Alexandra Ivy’s Guardians of Eternity series has both similarities and differences from each of these series.

Is this series a vampire series?

That’s a good question.  This world is an example of one that is “paranormal”, meaning there are many species represented in this world.  We have werewolves, vampires, gargoyles, goddesses, fey, water sprites, etc.  So yes, there are vampires (and my favorite books in this series focus on vampires) but you are not limited to one species.


World Lore

The lore within this series is multifaceted; the primary two are vampires and werewolves series.  There are many more, but I will focus on these two.

Different series handle vampires differently, for example, they can be either “undead” or an entirely separate species.  The vampires in this series are the typical “undead” types.  They are created by being bitten and then die to be reborn as vampires.  The lore is interesting because after they are turned, they have no memory of their past lives.  From Darkness Everlasting:

Of course, as a vampire Styx had no tangible memories of his life before rising as a demon.

The leader is called the Anasso (think King) and he is a leader by might, not by bloodline.

The werewolves on the other hand can be both “created” (called Curs) as well as be purebred.  The Curs are more animalistic and more controlled by their fury nature.  The purebreds rule the weres, but then are a small fraction of the population.  The purebreds seek for ways to allow purebred females to successfully give birth as they are dying out.

 

Conclusion:

I will be honest: while it is interesting how varied the species and lore is, it can be overwhelming.  You might like one book but you may not like the other.  For example, I really like the vampire books better than the rest of them.  Nothing against the writing quality or storyline, I suppose I like vampire stories better.

No matter what, you will enjoy this series.

 

The Books:  These should be read in order

  • [Book 1]  When Darkness Comes (2007) Main Characters: Dane [Vampire] and Abby Barlow [The Chalice]
  • [Book 2] Embrace the Darkness (2007) Main Characters: Viper [Vampire] and Shay [Shalott]
  • [Book 3] Darkness Everlasting (2008) Main Characters: Styx [Vampire] and Darcy Smith [Werewolf]
  • [Book 4] Darkness Revealed (2009) Main Characters: Conde Cezar [Vampire] and Anna Randal
  • [Book 5] Darkness Unleashed (2009) Main Characters: Jagr [Vampire] and Regan [Werewolf]
  • [Book 6] Beyond the Darkness (2010) Main Characters: Salvatore Giuliani [Werewolf] and Harley [Werewolf]
  • [Book 7] Devoured by Darkness (2010) Main Characters: Tane [Charon *Vampire] and Laylah [Jinn]
  • [Book 8] Bound by Darkness (2011) Main Characters: Ariyal and Jaelyn [Vampire]

Bea

Review: Moon Awakening by Lucy Monroe

Intro:

I found this book while researching werewolf series on a romance review blog.  What drew me initially was the concept that this was set in the past, in historical Scotland.  Some of the first romance books that  I read were set in historical Scotland, so this seemed to be a perfect mix of old love and new

Basic Plot:

Moon Awakening begins as what you might think: an arranged marriage between an English female (Emily Hamilton) and a Scottish laird (Talorc Sinclair).  Once she arrives at the castle she is shunned and she realizes that this clan will not accept her because she is an English outsider.  On an outing she and Cait (sister of the laird) are out bathing and a neighboring clan laird kidnaps them.  Her friend is taken for retribution and Emily gets herself to tag along because she fears for Cait’s safety.  There seems to be chemistry between Emily and the Laird Lachlan Balmoral, but she is promised to another laird even if Laird Sinclair seems to not want her.  On Lachlan’s side, he is Chretche and it is not wise to water down the bloodline (as can be seen by what happened with King Alpin.  Can they fight this attraction before it’s too late?

Background:

As a reader, we understand pretty swiftly that there is a difference with these clans, that not only are they Highlanders, but they are Chretche and are more than human.  We come to understand that they are shape shifters, in the form of the wolf.  Only individual clans unite these people, but they follow the Scottish King, albeit reluctantly.  In the past, when the King Keneth MacAlpin ascended the thrown, he considered himself also king of the Pict, A.K.A. Chretche (because he was part shifter).  He was an example of how when a Chretche marries a human, there is a chance that they will not be able to shift or take all aspects of the animal.  But despite this shortcoming, he became the Pict leader.  Once King of Scotland, he arranged a meeting with Chretche leaders and murdered them all, thus there has been a line of distrust between Chretche and humans.


Female Lead:

With this understanding of the background, we enter the story with an arranged married with a Chretche lord and an outsider female, Emily Hamilton.  I would say that she is my favorite typical historical romance female.  The sassy, but realistic female who speaks her mind and naïvely hopes for the best.  She is what we all wish we had a piece of inside ourselves.  Someone who is kind but fiercely devoted to our friends and family, willing to sacrifice for others.    Her younger, deaf sister Abigail is to be sent to this harsh foreign environment and Emily pushes to take Abigail’s place, despite her own fears.  Below a quote when she and Cait are kidnapped:

Although the cranky laird’s death would solve her own problems, Emily wasn’t tempted in the least to wish for it.  First, because it would be a terrible sin, but second because it would hurt her dear friend.

While she starts off rather typically, there is an inner strength that I enjoy about this woman, who overcomes her fears.  Some of the best entertainment of Moon Awakening is watching Emily figure out that these Highlanders are not merely human, but shape shifters.

Male Lead:

First off, you can never go wrong with a big strong sexy Alpha werewolf with a Scottish accent.  But he is not a typical brooding dark male that we might find as a werewolf.  Lachlan is caring and has a sexy sense of humor.  I love humor and I love a male character that, even if he is our Alpha male and studly, he can still find humor in life.  As Lachlan and his men are in the process of kidnaping Emily and Cait she attempts to get away, which includes trying to bite him:

The horse beneath them started moving, and the warrior growled in her ear.  “Stop trying to eat me, woman. I dinna think even the English infidels practiced cannibalism.”

I will say though, that he does have that typical male point of view that we can identify with any man in current times.  Men and women are different, and apparently, even shape shifters cannot read a woman’s mind.  I do like that he has to struggle to understand how Emily thinks and we have some fun watching as they bumble around.  What I like about this character is that he’s human, not just a “perfect” man who can cook, clean, understand the workings of the female mind, and yet somehow still manages not to let the wife carry his balls in her purse.  He’s a dude who does, well, dude-like things.

Theme Summary:

Other than the basic “love conquers all” theme that can be found through most romance books, there is the serious theme of self-sacrifice.  Both of our main characters are driven by this self-sacrifice, by Emily in going in Abigail’s place, and in Lachlan as he refuses to follow his heart and be with Emily because she is human.  How often have we had to make hard decisions that were better for others, but hurt ourselves?  On the other hand, there are times that you cannot live just for what your family or society thinks you should do, but rather, you must follow your heart.

Strong Points:

This is the first book of the series, so there is a great deal of backstory that has to be told, without making it feel like a dictionary of foreign terms.  Ms. Monroe does an excellent job of keeping us informed and yet still engaged in the story.  I enjoyed getting to know the secondary story, and it allowed us to better know our secondary characters.  When I finished reading this book I instantly wanted to read the next book to see what happens further.

What could be better?

I struggled between a 3 and a 4 Star for this book.  In some ways, I can tell that this is a first book both in genre and in storyline.  It took two years later before the second book was published, so I can understand how this book was a departure from her norm initially.  I find the second book even better than this one, and because I see the second book as so much more complex, I must give this one a 3-Star.

Conclusions:

I do not want folks to think this is a bad series or book to read.  It is a book that I re-read often.  I think that the unique background and the dialogue between our characters make this a fun read.  I personally love the second book the best and I look forward to reading many more in this series.

Bea

Children of the Moon Series

Probably one of my favorite paranormal classifications is shape shifter, influenced greatly by my love of animals.  I have had dogs and cats all my life and often I have felt that I understand animals so much better than humans.  In simplest terms, you can depend on animals not to hurt you and they are not motivated by hatred or selfishness.  They love unconditionally and we all hope that when we find that love of our life he/she will be similarly devoted.  To me, a good shifter series combines our love for our alpha human male and lets us hug on big shaggy beasts.  What’s not to love?

What makes a shape shifter series good?

First off this is my preference and your mileage may vary.  There are many origins of a shape shifter, whether he has been “turned” or if they are originally a separate species.  Shifters usually have a longer life cycle and have paranormal skills/strengths.  We also will usually see the one “mate” in which they seek all their life.  The downside is that this genre has grown so much with often a bunch of crap.  People have seen the demand for a good shifter and they just jump into the pool, without any added value.  We might see the cover with the 10 werewolves with the deep meaningful relationship and should consider that a classic, remember?  So somehow, I have to come up with something that is a criterion to distinguish the difference between gold and straight up crap.  What is my litmus test of whether the shifter series is good?

 

I consider how they handle taking off their clothes when they shift.

 

I absolutely hate the “magic” aspect, where the author just uses this excuse as the reason why the jewelry or the clothing magically disappears.  I somehow have to accept that any bad plot device can be answered with “magic” (I always think of Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean saying “Pirate” when I use “”).  It seems so lazy in writing to just say, “magic”.   However, some authors do bring in magic, but in a more “realistic” manner.  For example, Lauren Dane incorporates magic into on wedding rings, but she doesn’t use the excuse for all clothing.  Others like Lucy Monroe, Terry Spear, Christine Feehan, and Marjorie M. Liu use reality to base their shifting and that is something that I can get behind.  These shifters don’t wear wedding bands; always wear clothing that can easily be taken off in a pinch.  Also face it; we get to see their abs a lot.

Children of the Moon by Lucy Monroe is my favorite shifter series based in a historical setting.  This series is somewhat young (only three books written), so the world will continue to expand.  I am basing this landing page on information as of book 3, Moon Burning.

 

The basic world

 

This series is based on the Highlands of Scotland with the werewolves being the Picts.  Ms. Monroe does an excellent job of taking historical lore and morphing it into werewolf lore to include King Alphin and the Picts, reinterpreting history in the form of shifter lore.  If we accept that of King Kenneth Mac Alphin declared himself King of the Picts in 843, then this series is based sometime after that.  Book 2 mentions King David of Scotland, which puts the time as about 1124 – 1153.  From the Prologue from Moon Awakening:

 

Their Roman enemies called them Picts, a name accepted by the other peoples of their land and lands south…They called themselves the Chrechte

 

This separate species themselves Chrechte and while they are a separate culture they align with the Scottish King and their differences remain hidden to humans.  To marry a human means to water the bloodline and that is not acceptable.  The series is open, there is room to expand to other animals other than wolves and I have a feeling we might not be contained to just Scotland.  We will have to see what Ms. Monroe has in mind for us.  I do recommend starting with book 1 and reading them in order.

 

The Books:  These should be read in order

  • Moon Awakening (2007) Main Characters: Lachlan Balmoral and Emily Hamilton
  • Moon Craving (2010) Main Characters: Talorc Sinclair and Abigail Hamilton
  • Moon Burning (2011) Main Characters: Barr and Sabrine