Author: M. A. Church
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 214 Pages
At a Glance: Behind the Eight Ball had much more depth to it than the first in this series, and was much richer in terms of character development and interpersonal conflict.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: A cool morning, a yard full of birds, and a kitty on a mission. What more could a werecat want? Beta Heller Wirth has it all, except a mate—a shifter mate, that is. The last thing he wants is one of those dangerous humans who kill without remorse. Heller knows about that firsthand. So what does the goddess Bast do? She gives Heller exactly what he does not want—a human: business owner Lawson Dupre.
Lawson hasn’t a clue what just happened in his car detail shop. One minute a cute client is about to pass out, and then he perks up and starts flirting. Next thing, he runs out the door like the hounds of hell are after him. Learning that Heller is a werecat doesn’t freak out Lawson. He happens to be one of those rare humans who knows paranormals exists. He even lives with one. Watch the fur fly as Heller and Lawson battle hurt feelings, misguided beliefs, and a power shift in Heller’s clowder.
Review: Heller is a bigot. Admittedly, when it comes down to it, there is a hard reason he hates humans but nonetheless, he paints all of them with the same wide brush—including the one he has just discovered is fated to be his mate. Lawson is a unique human in that he is fully aware of the paranormal world, and that of shifters, for he is best friend and roommate to two of them. And, they are some scary shifters to boot.
However, nothing Lawson has gone through has prepared him for the extreme pull he feels towards Heller, who is more than likely to be running from his mate than embracing him. Then a mysterious threat appears on the horizon—seemingly aimed right at Lawson–and Heller not only changes his tune, he fervently hopes that it is not too late for Lawson to forgive him and consider being mated to him for good.
I must admit I was so pleasantly surprised when author M. A. Church opted to focus on the disgruntled and fairly nasty beta Heller Wirth for her second installment in the Fur, Fangs & Felines series. I was so certain that Remi would be her next choice, and by choosing Heller, I felt there was so much more to explore in terms of his background and obvious distrust of humans. I also felt it was quite a smooth move to introduce other shifters in the form of the snake duo, Marshell and Janelle. What I found most fascinating about this next chapter in the series was the depth to which we plumbed Heller’s character. I was so impressed by how all of his history was unpacked, and along with it, all his insecurities and fears that no one would ever really see him—beneath the beta exterior—the real him.
I felt there were such lovely poignant moments between Lawson and Heller—particularly when Heller really broke down and discussed his past experiences with humans and how deeply one in particular had hurt him. This may see an odd comment, but once you read the book you will understand. I was so relieved that the conflict that formed Heller’s mistrust and hate was not a physical one—a rape or torture driven memory. Instead, the additional characters from the past were sadly realistic, and how they affected and interacted with Heller was so very sad to read.
I was also quite taken with Marshell and Janelle and the idea that they survived off human blood and yet did not kill the host. Rather they paralyzed them, fed and released them. I look forward to book three in this series in hopes of reading more about this race of shifters. Perhaps the only drawback for me in this novel was some of the repetition of storyline from the first novel. I understood that the author was attempting to bring new readers up to speed, but I felt that the near verbatim explanations from book one were a bit annoying and could have possibly been addressed either in a forward or a more cleverly disguised format within the body of the novel. Quite a few times I found myself distracted by having to read about clowder events and rules that were nearly identical to the initial introductions to those same rites in book one.
However, in the end, Behind the Eight Ball had much more depth to it than the first in this series, and was much richer in terms of character development and interpersonal conflict. It’s a worthy and entertaining addition to the series.
You can buy Behind the Eight Ball here: