Title ~ All of Me
Author ~ Cardeno C
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 1st June 2014
Genre ~ Paranormal M/M Romance
Part of the Dreamspinner Press Daily Dose "Mended" Anthology 2014
Bonded by their parents before they were conceived, Abel Nasa and Zakai "Kai" Berura adored each other since they were children. As teens, the two future Alphas took the next step in their bonding process and vowed to remain true to one another until Kai came of age. But when tragedy struck, Abel felt betrayed and ran from Kai instead of completing the mating bond.
Years pass with no contact between the two, but Abel never stops yearning for the man who was supposed to lead by his side. When Kai returns, broken and on death's door, Abel must look past what he saw and trust his heart so they can fulfill their destiny and merge their packs.
Another winning read from Cardeno C albeit a shorter one. Part of the Dreamspinner Daily Dose 'Mended' anthology, it just proves to me once again why personally I love Mr C's books so much. Short story's can be hit and miss because the content is generally limited by the length but this endearing and tender shifter book never felt stunted or rushed, in fact it really grabbed me emotionally and within a couple of its chapters actually had me having a little weep.
All the books in this anthology are about hurt, comfort and second chances and Abel and Kai's tale fit the premise to a Tee. The blurb gives you a nice sense of what the book is about so I'm not going into any more specific details about what happens—you'll love discovering all that yourselves—but this will definitely appeal to all you readers out there who love seeing past wrongs righted, misunderstandings sorted and nasty pieces of work getting their comeuppance! And if you're a shifter fan, like me, then you'll be well pleased.
The story starts with Abel explaining about his and Kai's childhood history together, their destiny to be mates and the upsetting event that results in their estrangement. It all builds up to their 'reunion' ten years later, showing just how much the hurt and resentment has stayed with Abel all that time, setting the emotional undercurrents perfectly and making their coming together again all the more poignant. There was a particularly moving scene involving Kai in his wolf form that really touched me and started the tears flowing. It was such a visually tender moment that the image totally got to me and I found myself getting all emotional.
The love scenes were as sweet and tender as they were hot and steamy, which if you love Cardeno's books you'll know is a particular trait that he pulls off brilliantly. The sex never fails to sizzle but there's always a romantic, loving feel underpinning it too which I think really shows up in this particular storyline. For such a short story it packed a pretty emotional punch.
' "Mercy, you're sexy." He leaned up and started lapping at my belly. "You're gorgeous Abel Nasa. Even more now than when you were younger." He dragged his fingers up my chest and combed his fingers through the hair there. "Strong and masculine and—" He surged up, took hold of my head and yanked me down so I was lying on top of him once again. "Mine." He bit my lip, drawing a drop of blood and licking it away. "You're mine." '
As well as the love story there's a sub plot which gives more insight into why their relationship failed and introduces some likeable (and not so likeable) supporting characters from both their families and packs which I'd have liked to have seen a bit more of because of course being so enjoyable, I wanted it to last just that little bit longer but that was only because I got really involved with all the guys in this and would have liked to have got to know them better. With shifter stories, if they're working for me I always think there's more mileage, and this worked for me just fine. Short, sweet, sexy, soulful and very satisfying. I loved it. If all the Daily Dose stories are as engaging as this then you're in for a treat.
Its hard rating short stories because there's always that feeling that there should or could be more but this got five stars because it managed to pull an actual physical response from me that some full length novels have failed to do...plus its Cardeno, so that's a guaranteed star from me before it even gets going!
About Cardeno C
Cardeno C. - CC to friends - is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few "awwws" into a reader's day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno's stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset. Cardeno feels that characters write their own stories and just hopes to find enough time to get those stories on the page.