A guest review by Sirius.
Summary: This book widened my horizons as to what kind of shifters may exist in mm romances and overall I thought it was a pretty enjoyable ride.
Seth McDaniel wasn’t raised among a shifter passel and has no idea what it’s like to turn furry once a month. An orphan, torn from his father’s family at an early age, he scarcely remembers Great-aunt Irene. Now her passing brings him back to Possum Kingdom, Georgia, to take up a legacy he doesn’t understand and reconnect with a friend he’s never forgotten.
As Irene’s second-in-command, Dustin Livingston has two choices: assume control of the passel or select another replacement. Unfortunately, the other candidates are either heartless or clueless. Dustin’s best hope to dodge the responsibility is to deliver a crash course in leadership to his childhood pal Seth, a man he hasn’t seen in twenty years. However, while Dustin’s mind is set on his task, his heart is set on his old friend.
Seth’s quest for answers yields more questions instead. What’s with the tiny gray hairs littering his aunt’s house? Why do the townsfolk call each other “Jack” and “Jill”? Do Dustin’s attentions come with ulterior motives? And why is Seth suddenly craving crickets?
I grabbed this book because, well I wanted a chance to read a good one. Eden Winters rarely disappoints me and I thought her work would be a good bet. As you can see from the cover shifters keep growing in mm romance. I have never read the book with opossum shifters before. I will be very honest – realizing that these critters will feature prominently in the book made me raise my eyebrows a little bit. I was having trouble picturing opossums as romantic characters; moreover I did not even find the opossum on the cover to be very cute.
So I did what I always do when in doubt – I went googling. I found some really cute pictures of these animals online and proceeded with the book in much better mood. They were *adorable*. And go check out the picture of the triplets on the author’s website if it is still there – so very cute and funny. Yes, there are triplets running around in the book, no I will not tell you more about them, you should check them out yourself ;). I have to admit though – I do not really think that opposums make very good shifters, but that is just my personal bias 🙂
I thought the story was actually one of the best shifters stories around that I have ever read – based on my simple googling at least the animal side of the shifters was researched and incorporated in the characters’ personalities and behavior extremely well. I was very impressed. It was also very funny in places.
For a paranormal romance this story I would say is very well grounded in reality. Yes, as I said above, the animalistic characteristics of the folks living in Possum Kingdom are quite important in their personalities and in the story, but at the same time we get to see the life in the small city, the politics, even the election campaign of the sorts and it all felt very realistic and amusing to me. In fact I wonder if the election campaign was inspired by elections in the US which we lived through this year. I actually wish that the candidates would have behaved somewhat similarly to how our candidates behave in this book.
But of course the story is not only about the life in the Possum Kingdom, even it is an integral part of the story. The developing romance between Dustin and Seth is front and center and it worked for me. The blurb tells you that the guys had been childhood friends, so I feel I can tell you that more often than not I have very little patience for the story which makes it out that the guys were not able to forget their true love even if they were just little kids all those years ago. I thought this story avoided the silly trap very well – yes the guys remembered each other as one would remember your best childhood pal, but it is not like they were sitting around and were not involved with other people on pretty serious level. I would call their romance more the story of reconnecting with the old friend and realizing that now your friend may become somebody much more important for you than just a friend.
Interestingly enough I *really* enjoyed the separation time for our characters in this story. It made all kinds of sense in the world for them to stay separate for the reason they did for a while, but at the same time it did not feel like they were separated forever. I felt like the love between them did not go anywhere and as soon as they deal with stuff, they will be back together.
The story also has one of the very best female supporting characters I have read about in mm romance. I am always wishing for better characterization of the women in mm romances and as far as I am concerned there can never be enough of them, but wow even though I have seen few of interesting characters Monica was amongst the very best. She was a force of nature, but what impressed me the most is that the author gave her a very real flaw and did not turn the flaw into “awww how cute she really is, she just does not know it , but everybody around her does”. Monica is rude, or “lacks social skills and she knows it :-)”. Her first meeting with Seth, well let’s just say I wanted to slap her silly for all the crap she told Seth. I get why she said it, but find out what the facts really are woman before you start running your mouth. In any event, what I am trying to say is that I like Monica as I would like the real person – knowing her flaws, but seeing that she has much more good qualities than flaws and I have not yet met a human being without flaws in my life. I thought it was a very skilled characterization here.