Author: Charlie Cochet
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Months after being forced to leave his lover and mate Ari Jannsen behind, Hunter Devin settles into his role as Enforcer for the newly formed Deagan Clan under the rule of his new Alpha and best friend Tristan “Trip” Hagan. Along with Hunter’s brother Boone, their nephews, sister, and mother, Hunter finally has the family he’s always wanted, but without his little rebel Ari, his heart is incomplete.
The Hagan Clan is unable to accept the Deagan Clan’s betrayal for walking away and taking the clan’s pups with them. War looms. As both clans plan their attack, a greater enemy plots against them. But Hunter is determined to get his Ari back. Bonds are put to the test and unexpected alliances are made as Hunter and his clan set out to protect their own and end the spreading heartache.
Hunter and Ari, Ari and Hunter, what’re we going to do with you two? As we ponder that, let me just tell the folks how blistering, smoking hot you are with each other.
Through the first couple of chapters, there was more telling than showing about what all was developing between Ari and Hunter. This was a filling in of the events that were a part of “An Intrepid Trip to Love”, book one, that we didn’t see. It gets us to the same point where the two books connect on the timeline. Cochet’s word choices, especially emotional descriptors, kept things flowing for me.
There is a time jump that confused me at first. This is that reconnection between the end of book one and the beginning of this story, bringing us to the starting point. The stage is reset regarding truth about the rules surrounding pure bloods and half-breeds, destinies of the clans and their members and families, and the impacts of the mixing and breaking up of all of these things.
As the title suggests, this is about Hunter and his heart, which is achingly close to breaking due to events in book one. I see it more of saving his heart and Ari’s role in that, as well as many of the other pack members and their roles: Trip, Boone, Robbie, Matthias, and the literal slew of other characters.
There are natural rhythms in a story and they’re a challenge to create. Sometimes this book succeeds and sometimes it doesn’t, the pacing too slow from overly long scenes or too quick when important turning points are sped through. I sometimes wondered why there were such long breaks during one story arc while another was addressed. With so many characters and motivations, it made it difficult to keep track and remember what had been happening last time I’d been reading about a particular location and the events taking place there.
Cochet excels at dialogue. She knows her characters, their inflections and attitudes, their speech patterns and likely way of reacting to others in the conversations. For me, there’s never any confusion or blurry overlap, no mistaking one character’s line for another’s. This is also a difficult challenge to overcome when writing a story and Cochet is all over it.
”This better be good,” Mischa grunted at him, nodding a greeting to Trip and Boone.
Hunter led Mischa toward the living room, unfazed by his gruffness. “What? My pleasant personality is not enough to warrant a friendly visit?”
“First of all, the words pleasant and friendly have no place in any conversation that involves you. Second of all, you said you would make it worth my while.”
“And I have,” Hunter assured him with a smile. “We have mini pizza bagels.”
Further, she’s very good at writing children, their gestures and what they convey, their reactions, and their blunt nature. I’m not one who usually enjoys stories with kids but Robbie is a prime example of when they’re written realistically and to serve the story.
There is a story here but it gets overwhelmed in places by the side trips into exposition and inner monologues by a number of characters. Instead of interaction, things are explained through single characters thinking about what’s happened, what needs to be done, what they want and fear. Meanwhile, well known story types, like the clan wars brewing, those who want to keep current traditions versus those who want to start new ones, revenge, egomaniacs who let their fervent beliefs color their decisions and lead them to hurting those they’re supposed to love and protect, feel like oases highlighted between the long stretches of explanation.
The characters, though possibly too many, are diverse, humorous, sappy, silly, sweet, and loyal. Well, except for the baddies which are dreadful, egotistical, condescending, possibly delusional, and definitely arrogant. There needed to be much more interaction between them all to, not just take advantage of how great they are and the emotion they hold but, create forward movement and more cohesion in the story overall.
Seriously, there’s strong emotion whenever the families, whether created by blood or choice, are on the scene. More than once I had a lump in my throat and tears threatening. Cochet is dialed in when it comes to translating that emotion to the page. Along with the humor and the dialogue, the emotion she can evoke is one of my favorite things about her storytelling.
Something else I enjoy about her storytelling is the clear influence culture has on it. More than once, echoes of “Return of the Jedi” popped out to me: the multi-character scenes (a strength of Cochet’s related to her ability with dialogue), the family dynamics, “it’s a trap!”, and the finale itself.
Though this didn’t knock my socks off, I had fun reading it and enjoyed spending time with these characters, and I’m sure I’ll read the next book. I’m assuming there will be one considering upon who the obvious focus will be. 😉
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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