Title ~ Control
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Genre ~ Paranormal M/M Romance
Published ~ 18th April 2014
Vy Aleknos is the leader of a hawk shifter flock. Openly gay since he was a teen, Vy is proud and self-assured on the outside, while secretly worrying he’ll be forced to spend his life alone because two males can’t be mates. When bear shifter Robert Cimino appears in Vy’s small town, Vy realizes his concerns were unfounded — he has a male mate, and a sexy, dominant one to boot.
Robert is a bear shifter who refuses to shift. Immediately attracted to Vy, he deviates from his normal pattern and seeks more than a one off with the powerful, bristly hawk. But Robert’s affections are rooted in his human form, and when Vy discovers Robert doesn't recognize him as his mate, he pulls away. If Robert wants to stay with Vy, he must convince a man deeply ruled by his animal instincts to give their relationship as humans a chance.
Well, well, well...a hawk and a grizzly bear shifter book. Not your normal combo for a shifter romance but I've got to say this worked really well and it’s all down to the chemistry of not only Vy and Robert, the hawk and the grizzly in question, but also the chemistry between two of my fave authors...Cardeno C and Mary Calmes. You've rocked it guys! Told from each of the characters points of view, I think you can see glimpses of both their distinctive styles of writing but at the same time it just melds into one easy, enjoyable, sexy, engaging, paranormal read and I smiled, sighed and 'Grrr'ed' in all the right places, all the way through it.
Vy is a pretty complex character. He's Kuar (leader) of his Kettle (clan) or Ket (as it’s known) of Hawks but he hasn't had an easy ride getting there. He's openly gay but not all of his Ket accepted that and when he came out at fifteen a faction of his family, led by his grandmother, plotted to have him mutilated and removed so that he could never take his place as their next leader. Luckily his loving mum and well respected father, who was the Kuar at that time, fully supported him and the plot failed, but it left him with the feeling that he had to constantly prove his worth to the other hawks and this shows in his somewhat aloof demeanour and slightly proud and prickly character. Small, blonde and slight, Vy might look delicate but he's hell of a lot stronger than he looks and doesn't take any crap from anyone. He has to show his strength and power but secretly he just wants to submit to his mate, someone he knows is out there. Trouble is he's also worried sick it might turn out to be a woman...until the day he walks into his local hardware store, smells a delicious aroma, follows its scent and finds a towering, broad shouldered, gorgeous hunk of manhood. His mate....Robert Cimino!
The "fated to be mated" concept is the main thread of the story, but this time C & M have mixed it up a bit! So... Vy the hawk recognises Robert the Grizzly as his mate just by smell alone before he even sets eyes on him...BUT...apart from finding the 'Little Bird' really attractive, Robert is totally oblivious to the whole pheromones/fate/mate thing, all he knows when they first meet is that the determined, snippy, uptight, sexy, skinny little blonde bird shifter with the golden eyes, in front of him is giving off some "come and get me" vibes and just thinking they're going to have a bit of fun, he takes advantage of that in an "Oh My!", sizzling back alley love scene, that starts the ball rolling and sets up the story very nicely. A nice slant on the usual insta love between mates theme.
Robert is a completely different kettle of fish! He's big, strong, protective and a gentle giant type of guy. He's a loner, travels around and, big surprise, he NEVER shifts. In his past he's been a love em and leave em type of lover, but not in the sense that he's a player, he's just had his odd lovers and moved on. So his reaction to Vy is surprising, especially to himself. He's drawn to the little guy, but for him it’s more of an attraction that grows stronger, the more he's around his hawk lover. Being a bear shifter who never shifts (for reasons we get to know as the story progresses) means that Robert's animal instincts are hidden deep inside him, so really its only Robert the man who is reacting to Vy, and it’s this that Vy can't accept. He wants to be mated in the true sense of the word but of course this isn't happening. In true m/m romance style this means that things don't run smoothly for them but thankfully the angst never swamps the story. I found it just nicely paced, woven in amongst the rest of the threads running alongside it.
"Well, from what you're telling me, you could get stuck with someone you don't want, or find attractive, or don't even really like very much, just because of some instinct or urge."
The love scenes are awesomely hot, steamy and sexy but there's also some lovely moments of true romance mixed in there too and that lifts them up a notch. Both Cardeno and Mary are great at writing passionate sex scenes that showcase the tension and fantastic chemistry between their MC's and this partnership is no exception. Vy and Robert are meant to be together but it’s watching them both come to that realisation, each in their own way, mate bond or not, that's so lovely to watch.
"How about we get a good night's sleep, and then I'll make you breakfast, and we can see if you're willing to give a chance to a man who wants to be with you because of who you are—not because of fate, not because of destiny, but because you're special." I swallowed down the thickness in my throat. "Please let me show you what it’s like to be cherished! Vy. I promise you won't regret it."
Obviously it’s not all about Vy and Robert...there's other threads and characters interwoven with the main story. There's a subplot about a bit of trouble between Vy's Ket and a pack of neighbouring wolf shifters that hints at a possible follow up if CC and Mary carry this on as a series, and I really hope they do. Then there's the supporting characters who are key to, and hold their own in the story, especially Vy's second in command, Louisa "Lou" Maberti, who works for the sheriff’s department. Tough, feisty and pretty kick ass, she's a really positive woman character and very likeable. Lou's firefighter husband Carlos played another solid role and finally Vy's dad... Jecis Aleknos. A strong leader and parent who loves and supports his gay son unconditionally, and in his role as councillor to Vy, who is now his Kuar, Vy's voice of reason when it was really needed! These guys really stood out for me and added to my total enjoyment of the book by embodying the word 'supporting.'
As you can guess it’s another one that goes onto my 'I loved it' shelf and another one that makes me thank the day I discovered m/m! This is one obsession I love to feed... so an appealing, engaging, feel good, nice and spicy shifter book that uses a familiar topic yet still manages to be innovative is just what the doctor ordered! Smiles all round!
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