Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

For context, you need to know that I’m a big paranormal fan, I enjoy fake relationships a great deal, and I love a steamy book. So this book should have been perfect for me and the first 60% absolutely was. Unfortunately, it hit the skids at about 70% and didn’t really get back on track properly after that.

Mackenzie is an ER doctor in Denver and she’s a shifter and an omega. The rumours are that this makes her extra sexual which she has always rather resented as though she’s reduced just to a sex act. She half-heartedly dates, but they’re all pretty terrible and her gran is desperate for grandbabies. Isn’t there always a meddling older family member? I wish authors could find another way to force people into relationships.

So she asks Noah, an interventional cardiologist at her hospital, to be her fake boyfriend. Turns out Noah is in a tricky spot. He’s been pretending to be a normal shifter, but he’s not. He’s an alpha and this hospital has discriminatory policies against alphas*. But if he’s mated, or so the nonsense legends go, then he’s more docile and not as much of an alpha-hole. So they agree to be fake mates for the hospital and a brand new couple to Mackenzie’s gran.

(*Side note: I really enjoyed the world in which these shifters lived. Alphas don’t lead packs anymore; they’re just a bit ‘more’ than the average shifter. They can take suppressants that stop their pheromones from being spread and keep their emotions/hormones in check. This is how Noah isn’t outed to the hospital until someone does something nefarious.)

The first 60% of the book is a delight as they explore their fake relationship. The sex is steamy and there are some new-to-me things that are explored: Mackenzie’s heat cycle and knotting during sex. Both of those things along with the general learning-of-each-other that goes on were tremendous fun to read. At this stage I was reading with great happiness and with the occasional giddy smile directed to my Kindle.

Up until the book deteriorated for me, I adored Mackenzie. She’s funny and smart and teases the ever-so-staid Noah until he turns pink. It’s adorable! Noah isn’t so much a grump as he is a really serious dude. He’s so locked down that he neglects the importance of human connection. He lightens up considerably under Mackenzie’s influence.

Not all the characters are so charming though. Parker is Mackenzie’s gay best friend (I thought we left this trope in the 2000s?) and he is an actual grump and never quite as supportive of Mackenzie as I would like. He does get one truly excellent line when Mackenzie first tells him about her fake mate situation: ‘Oh, so now you’ve got multifaceted deceptions going on? Whipping ourselves up a tomfoolery tiramisu, are we?’ Undoubtedly the funniest line in the book.

So what happened after 60% that killed my joy? That’s just it. Nothing happened.

In fact, things stopped happening. The plot, which had been jogging along at a good clip, stopped and was replaced with lots and lots of confused navel gazing. All the tension and various problems they were managing as shifters resolve somewhat, and then what conflict is left is not compelling. Mackenzie and Noah hadn’t been honest with each other about their very real, growing feelings. There were hints, but for the most part, instead of a frank conversation, we have each character separately pondering their options and choices, but not actually talking to each other about it. At this point, I stopped reading because the story was really going nowhere, but a couple hours later curiosity won and I picked it up again.

When things started up again, we went right into the bleak moment which was … fine, as bleak moments go. But for me, the book had lost crucial momentum in the build up to that emotional climax and so it wasn’t as powerful as it could have been. The denouement was okay too, but my goofy smiles of the first 60% were long gone by then.

If this book had maintained its giddy pace all the way through, it would have absolutely delighted me. As it is, it’s a distinctly meh situation that I’m left with. Would I recommend it? Probably not. The first just-over-half is really fun reading, but it falls apart so dramatically after that, I ended up very disappointed.

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