by Elaine White July 12, 2017
Beautiful. Touching. Perfect.
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **
Wow! I loved R. Cooper's writing the moment I read The Winter Prince. It was so good that it made me nervous to start this series, because I didn't want to risk losing the magic. But, no fear, it was there in spades!
The 3rd person POV was kept to just one character, which was great, allowing us to see Ray's thoughts and feelings, without letting us see Cal's, which was really important to the progression of the plot. It wouldn't have been half as interesting if we'd have known Cal's thoughts throughout.
There was a great variety of Beings within the story, despite the MC's being a fairy and a wolf. There were more fairies, another wolf, a Siren, mentions of a dragon, humans and a demon. There are so many options and I could already see the potential for more stories in some of the Beings.
There was an incredible, slow burn type of chemistry at work here. There was flirting, smooching and an irresistible draw towards each other, without ever really giving in. The anticipation was perfect, but I could also feel the raw pain and hurt, the confusion and the need that existed between Ray and Cal as they tried to navigate their working relationship while never venturing into a personal relationship.
All of that was accomplished while allowing us to follow Ray and Cal through the process of crime solving and investigation. There was real police work here, real processes and trials of a case. As someone who studied forensics and crime, I loved seeing the natural, realistic nature of their work, without the unrealistic expectations of the likes of CSI and results being returned within hours. I'll admit, I knew quite early on who the bad guy was, but I hadn't figured out the who or the how or the why, which I loved. I liked being surprised, but I also love that there were logical hints within the story that I could follow, as the reader, to come to my own conclusion.
“He looked up and there he was. Cal Parker. The bane of his existence and his reason for living.”
And I just had to include this one, which really just tore my heart out.
Book 2: A Boy and His Dragon
Another amazing addition to the series. I loved that book 1 focused on the police aspect, with Ray being a detective, and really, really loved that this one took the same idea, but without feeling like a carbon copy. Our dragon, Bertie, is a professor and is writing a book, so fittingly the story focuses on that fact and the human boy, Arthur (our POV) who is his assistant.
I loved how well Arthur and Bertie worked together. Arthur was opinionated, desperate for his job, but also a real loved of books, artifacts and antiques, so much so that he often had a go at Bertie for the proper storage and safety of such items. He was a real firecracker at times. Bertie, on the other hand, was this sort of foppish, flouncy aristocrat at times while also being the badass dragon with a seductive streak. The chemistry between these two jumped right off the page and smacked me in the face, from page one. It was amazingly effective and palpable.
I love the little slip of the website FangandFur.com and really hope that it pops up in a later story, because it sounded great!
The relationship was slow burning, with a nice, natural progression from strangers to acquaintances, to boss and worker, then towards something much more heated and laced with innuendo. I really loved the way that Bertie had a little bit of the sadness Ray had, in book one, because he knew something that, not being a Being, Arthur didn't understand. Yet, he took the time to teach him slowly, over time, and let Arthur make his own choices. The whole relationship was fraught with tension of a will-they-wont-they heat, while having me on the edge of my seat, wondering how it would all turn out and hoping for the best.
With sizzling chemistry, a great way of humanising Bertie's dragon, while teaching Arthur about Beings, and thanks to an incredible writer who is able to draw me into with every word, there wasn't anything I didn't love about it. The ending, again, killed me! The 'Facts About Dragons' was a perfect addition.
“Best-case scenario, he wouldn't get the job, and he needed this job; worse case, the dragon might eat him.”
“Love, asking you not to organize would be like asking a siren not to sing.”
However, I did find that the sense of 'wolf' in the were world was totally different here to book 1, which was a little jarring at first, but really proved the point made later in the book that Wolf's Paw operates like its own little world and has no idea how wolves outside of it behave. That's going to be more prominently focused on, I believe, in the next book.
So, why have I given it four stars instead of five, like the others? I found that while I loved the build up to the romance, I missed out on the dating part, which was limited to Zeki and Theo thinking about it, during their POV, without us actually getting to experience it. It created a disconnect with the present scene, taking us into the past (even if only by a few days) and I often left the flashback-y moment disorientated and unable to remember where the characters were or what they were doing. This also led to some editing errors, where the wrong names were used. In previous books, any editing errors are limited to the odd punctuation or spelling mistake, but the ones here really affected my reading and had me going back to wonder if I'd missed something, so that was a down side. I didn't understand the whole 'mis-communication' issue, because they were kids when it happened, no adult ever tried to help Theor work through what happened and they all expected Zeki to automatically know what had happened back then, even though they admitted that it shouldn't have happened, because teenagers never recognised their mates. No adult ever tried to help either of them through the situation and that bothered me. I also really wanted to see more at the end. More of what? I'm not sure. Maybe just some actually “getting to know you” moments, because I really didn't feel like there were all that many in here, for my liking. The other books in the series had so much more of that quality time spent together.
Book 4: Little Wolf
It was nice to see Ray back, from book 1, but I'm disappointed that there was zero mention of Theo and Zeki, despite their book coming first and actually having Zeki and Tim talking in the previous book. Not only that, but Zeki is the town wizard so should have been consulted to put up protective wards for Tim, but wasn't, and the fact that they both have magic should have meant that he entered into the story as a friend of some kind, at least once, but that didn't happen either. The whole story read as a standalone, but with no hint that the previous book had ever happened.
Overall, the story was great, with a really palpable and electric chemistry between the two main characters. The minor characters were intriguing. Carl was a great snippy addition, while I'm eager to eventually read Arthur's story. Graham and the baby wolves seemed really sweet and cute; the fairy and her cohorts were entertaining as all get out and Zoe was a great sidekick for Nathaniel. I wasn't disappointed in any of the plot/character effects, only maybe the length of the book and how it allowed certain aspects of the plot to be carried out longer than seemed logical.
“No one's ever let me go in order to do what's best for me.”
“If pancakes were happiness, then Nathaniel was a stack of them piled high and dripping with melted butter and real syrup.”
Book 5: The Firebird and Other Stories
The Warrior's Sacrifice (77-81%) is another sweet offering, with some heat. It takes place in 1947 and bravely combines the pain and torment of a man returned from war with the simple, gentle life of Teo, a muxe → a third gender, of a gay man who identifies as and behaves and dresses like a woman. I say brave, because even in a Mexican community, such as this story has, the 40's weren't a time of acceptance for gay men, never mind a muxe. Yet it was written with heart and compassion and understanding for who Teo was and who he needed to be openly.
A Giant Among Men (85- 89%) is set in 1982, covering the topic of the AIDS epidemic (as yet unnamed, in the story).
Overall, the entire book was a perfect blend of old and new stories, old and new characters and it definitely answered some questions I hadn't known I was harbouring from the previous novels. I can't wait to read more from this universe. It could go on forever and I'd never get enough.
“Fairy healing or not, his little Walter could break him without even trying. He only had to leave.” ~ Hyacinth on the Air
When it comes to negatives, there are very few. There are no chapter headings, just divided chapters with capital letters at the start of each new scene, which makes it hard to acknowledge how many chapters are left. The only a few exceptions. There are also a few editing issues throughout, but nothing overly confusing or frustrating to deal with.
I do have an issue with the whole 'miscommunication' aspect of each story. Most of the time it's because some big bag wolf or dragon can't just come out and say “You're my mate. Would you be interested in getting to know me?” Because, if that happened, there would be no story, but sometimes it just seems a little stupid for everyone (and the town, in some cases) to never say anything.
However, the entire series is romance gold. From slow burn to flaming heat, there are stories of all sorts. There are a variety of Beings (wolves, fairies, dragons and magic users for the novels; a firebird, jaguar, fairy, troll, elf, imp and dragon in the last novel of shorts) that each get to tell the story of their people and show how they love. Some have destined mates, but not all, and it's great to see how that differs from Being to Being.
If they were all available in paperback (though that's sadly not the case) I would absolutely be snapping up each and every novel until I had the whole set. For now, I'll settle for keeping this on my Kindle as a yearly re-read must.