Title: Taming The Bander
Author: Summer Devon
Pulisher: Self Published
Cover Art: Lou Harper
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: gay alternate worlds, shapeshifter
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: A deliciously light-hearted story about an unusual shapeshifter and his unlikely lover.
The Blurb: He thought he had nothing left to lose…until he lost his heart.
Jake will be forever grateful to the man who rescued him and brought him to an animal preserve to live. It’s the perfect home for a bander, a type of shifter known to be notoriously taciturn. Now Jake runs the place, and he’s content with the hard truth that he’ll always be alone. Summer visitors are a necessary evil. And Vaughn Prentiss is exactly the sort of tourist that gets on Jake’s last nerve. A happy-go-lucky, carefree, trust-fund baby.Vaughn can’t fathom why Jake seems to enjoy insulting him for no reason. Yet he’s attracted to the man’s gruff kindness with the preserve’s youthful workers. And it hasn’t escaped his notice that Jake is something special. Something not quite human.
When Vaughn discovers his financial manager has absconded with the family fortune, Jake acts on impulse to offer him a job, and wonders if he’ll live to regret it. It’s hard enough to keep his shifter nature private, much less keep his paws off his newest employee… a man Jake is coming to admire. If only he could be sure, when danger reveals the truth of what he is, if Vaughn will stay by his side—or run.
Bander is Jake’s last name, but it’s also what he is. Banders are rare; for all he knows, Jake is the last of his kind. Which, as he tells himself, is just fine, he likes being on his own best anyway. After all, he needs to protect the secret of his dual nature in order to be able to live his life in peace. So he cultivates the grumpy misanthropic image he has copied from his friend and mentor Walton, avoiding to form bonds of any kind to anyone, and has built walls around his heart as thick as Fort Knox’s ever since the only man whom he ever trusted turned out to be more interested in the bander than in Jake.
It works for Jake.
Until he meets Vaughn, that is, a man who looks like the spitting image of the man who betrayed him once and yet couldn’t be more different.
Vaughn used to live for pleasure, traveling the world for fun and only doing what catches his fancy at any given moment, his only care in life avoiding boredom. He was born rich and thought he’d always be. But one day, all his wealth is gone, and suddenly Vaughn needs to earn his living. By chance more than anything, Vaughn gets a hold on a job as a manual laborer at the Ark, the animal sanctuary run by Jake, and he’s determined to do anything in his power to keep it. For one, he finds to his surprise that he likes the physical work. And for another, the Ark is where Jake is, and that’s where Vaughn wants to be.
Vaughn and Jake have met before, mutual disconcertment rapidly turning into equally mutual fascination. But while Vaughn throws himself wholeheartedly into the novel experience of working hard and getting under Jake’s skin, Jake shies away, along the lines of once bitten, twice shy. However, Jake can’t resist Vaughn’s charm for long.
This story in and of itself followed many oft-walked paths of (m/m) romance , but it was told in such a lighthearted tone that it flowed easily and smoothly, and yet never turned fluffy or trivial. It was a delight to see Jake interact with the teenage volunteers, the animals and with his mentor Walton, all gruff and bristles and golden heart. And with Vaughn, of course, who was just a breath of fresh air. Sparks started to fly between those two almost right from the beginning, but once they got to know each other (and got over the obligatory cross-purposes-talking-induced misunderstanding) there was a lot more between them than mere physical attraction.
Both main characters were nicely drawn. Vaughn, on first sight a quite superficial never-do-well, turned out to be courageous, surprisingly resourceful and faithful to both his airhead cousin and of course, to Jake. And Jake, whom Vaughn initially calls a sourpuss, and quite appropriately so, shows undreamt-of devotion to Vaughn and emotional depths that motivate him to go out of his way in order to make Vaughn happy.
The actual plot was a bit far-fetched, but imaginative and consistent… and really, it was a fun story where everybody got what they deserved in the end. Well, almost everybody.
This was a refreshing change from the usual shifter fare, and not only for the fact that Jake turned into something a lot more original than a wolf, and there wasn’t a fated mate in sight.
Plus, no one growled “mine” during sex, another nice bonus point.
Instead, I got a wonderful pairing of tall, dark and silent with bright, vivid and chatty. Flintstone and spark. Rock and wind. Jake and Vaughn complement each other beautifully, even though it takes both of them a while to see that, and I had a great time being a fly on their wall. Warmly recommended.
Taming The Bander will be released from Samhain on Feb. 26, 2013