Author: Kate Roman
Amazon: Buy Link Lionheart
Length: Novel per publisher’s website (couple hours read according to me, word counts unknown)
Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: I thought the two main characters in this story were sympathetic and likeable. I also thought that the story has one of the most original ideas as to how a lion shifter could be “born”, unfortunately by and large the execution of this story failed to deliver for me.
After a lion hunt on the Rhodesian veldt goes awry, Ash Haywood’s father beats him to within an inch of his life and leaves him for dead. Rescued by tormented WWII veteran Roy Bennett, Ash begins to experience unexplainable shifts of mood, time, and place; the veldt — and Roy — take hold of him, body and soul.
They will need to be brave, strong, and true to evade the Haywood family’s bloodlust and build a future together in the African wilderness and make sense of the appearance of a mysterious young golden lion.
The blurb of this story grabbed me immediately — a historical featuring a lion shifter in settings which are not depicted in gay romance too often. I was so there and so ready to love it, but unfortunately, while I liked both Roy and Ash and thought that the writing flowed well, I was bored by the story.
The action takes place in Rhodesia and I thought that setting was incredibly underused. The author makes an attempt to show us the incredible mythology of the country, but in the end I was just disappointed. Also, the local citizens were just there, I guess this is the best way to describe it, like cardboard cutouts. They were either the object of the caricature racism of the villains in the story, who were incredibly cartoonishly-drawn with evil in everything they did, or were mythical and wise.
As I mentioned before, I did like main characters — Roy, who came to Rhodesia to escape the horrors of his past, and Ash, who in a sense was also running from the pain in his life and who essentially came home — but I thought the author could have done so much more with those guys, to delve so much deeper into their psyches.
I thought their love story was sweet, but it lacked conflict, or I should say that the attempt to create conflict was weak. They meet, they have sex, they are attracted to each other immediately, and when they meet again, they soon enough have sex again, but then they start to wonder whether one really wants another. I don’t know about you, but to me the fact that a person wants to have sex with me (again) is a pretty strong indication that they at least want me. Thank goodness this “wants me, does not want me” was resolved pretty fast because I was starting to lose patience. They then try to resolve an external threat, but I really would not even call it external conflict because it does not bring any tension between them.
I was especially disappointed in the shape shifting storyline. The premise was incredibly fascinating for me — in fact I do not think I have ever read a book where shape shifter’s origins were explained in that way — but while part of the plot, it felt that the writer only touched the surface and by the end I was basically scratching my head. I thought that so much more could have been done with the shifting element in the sense of the connection between the human and animal parts of the character, and I still am not sure why the character accepted it so easily and so suddenly and how he felt about it on the deeper level.
Only recommended if you are a fan of this author.