Title: Wake Me Up Inside (Mates #1)
Author: Cardeno C.
Publisher: The Romance Authors
Release Date: July 15, 2015
Page Count: 205
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
A Mates Series Story
A powerful Alpha wolf shifter and a strong-willed human overcome traditions ingrained over generations and uncover long-buried secrets to fulfill their destiny as true mates.
Regarded as the strongest wolf shifter in generations, Alpha Zev Hassick is surprised and confused by his attraction to his best friend. His very human, very male best friend. A male shifter has to mate with a female shifter to keep his humanity, so shifters can’t be gay. Yet, everything inside Zev tells him Jonah is his true mate.
Maintaining a relationship with the man he has loved since childhood isn’t easy for Jonah Marvel, but he won’t let distance or Zev’s odd family get in their way. When unexplained ailments begin to plague Jonah, he needs to save his own life and sanity in order to have a future with Zev.
Zev and Jonah know they’re destined for each other, but they must overcome traditions ingrained over generations and long-buried secrets to fulfill their destiny
Ahh..the joy of reading shifter stories by Cardeno, C. There’s nothing quite like it. When I read the first edition of this book last year, I gave it 3 stars and I have vague impressions of liking it well enough but not exactly being blown away. Reading it for the second time around solidified my love for this author’s writing style.
After the prologue, which is set in present day, the story unfolds backwards from when Zev shifted into a wolf as a toddler and was drawn to baby Jonah in the playground. Wanna talk about the cuteness factor? Wanna talk about petting and playing in the sand as human and lupine? I predictably ooohed and aaaahed all over my ipad with this. Jonah didn’t meet human Zev until they were in high school and the physical attraction was first explored on the last day before Jonah left for college. There are so many pages, wonderful pages, filled with the love and fierce friendship that developed between those two.
And this is where Cardeno’s stories win big with me. The romance is so magnified, so spectacular, you can’t help but read with the kind of smile that makes your cheeks hurt from stretching. And that was me during the entire reading experience. Sure, I felt frustrated with the long separation while Zev patiently waited for Jonah to go through undergrad, medical school, and then residency. While the sex scenes were hot, Zev held back from going all the way because he knew that with Jonah being his true mate, they would complete the bond which would render them pretty much incapable of being physically separated for long periods of time. So Zev waited. And Jonah waited, albeit with increasing amounts of frustration. I waited too, but the payoff was sooooooo good, filled with all the possessive, growly “mines” and “forevers” anyone could wish for.
The story lost me a bit towards the end, when Jonah’s past mystery was solved and a couple of threats were dealt with. It contained the standard villain confession and was more convoluted than necessary in my opinion. I would have been happy with a half or less the action packed finale. I also didn’t enjoy how Zev and Jonah kept calling each other ”friend.” It was established from the beginning that they were friends first above everything else but once the relationship changed, I don’t think the reader needed to be beat up constantly with the term as if we’d forget this major fact.
Al in all, this is a wonderful beginning in a series of shifter books that I can recommend to all mm fans who enjoy steamy paranormal romance.
Wake Me Up Inside Excerpt
He reached out a trembling hand and stroked the soft fur on the head still resting in his lap. The wolf whimpered and turned into his hand, licking it. Then those familiar eyes looked up into Jonah’s face.
Okay, so it’d be fine, but at that moment he felt cold and sweaty, he was having trouble getting air into his lungs despite rapid attempts to suck it in, he was nauseous, and he thought he might faint. Yeah, okay, so maybe he was in shock. Just a little bit.
Jonah dropped to his knees and then laid flat on his back, trying to calm down. He propped his feet up on the chair.
“Blondie?” Zev’s concerned face was right above him, petting his hair. “You’re shaking. Oh, damn. Jonah, do you hear me?”
He hadn’t even seen the wolf turn back into a man. It had happened that seamlessly.
“I… I… I’m fine. Just, um, need to lie down a little. Maybe…” Jonah tried to gather his thoughts. That effort alone was helping. “Just get me a blanket, okay? I’m cold.”
Zev shot out of the room, and before he knew it, Jonah felt a blanket being tucked around him. He looked up and saw that Zev’s gorgeous eyes were wide, his forehead was creased with worry, and his full lips were drawn in tight lines. Jonah tried to exude comfort.
“I’m okay, Pup. Promise. This is just a lot to take in. Give me a minute to adjust.”
All right, time to man up. So his boyfriend could turn into a wolf? Hell, he’d done rounds in the ER of a huge metropolitan city at night. Some of the shit he’d seen there firsthand was way scarier than a furry woodland creature who liked to nuzzle him. That train of thought almost made him laugh out loud.
He might have even managed a smile because he heard Zev let out a relieved sigh and felt the man relax, even though they weren’t touching. How could he feel what was going on in someone else’s body?
Okay, yeah, that was weird. He’d need an explanation. Add it to the ever-fucking-growing list.
“All right. So you can turn into a wolf.”
Jonah’s voice almost sounded steady. He gave himself mental props for that achievement.
“Yeah. Are you still freaking out?” Zev asked.
“Nah. You’re not the first seemingly normal guy I’ve seen turn into a wolf.”
Jonah shook his head.
“No. Of course, it usually happens at bars late at night when the guy’s had too much alcohol or controlled substances and he’s making a pathetic last-ditch attempt to get laid. Still, I’ll take your type of wolf over the kind that shows up right around last call anytime.”
Zev’s jaw dropped.
“Are you… Was that a joke, Blondie?”