Author: Caitlin Ricci and AJ Marcus
Cover Artist: unknown
Rating: 3.75 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 04/15/2016
Length: Novella (~ 15K-50K)
Genre: Gay Romance, Paranormal
Sealed with Honor
For these two, having an arranged marriage could either be a catastrophe, or the best thing that’s ever happened to them.
Cam has always known that his mating would be arranged by his father, and his best hope is for a mate who respects him and could eventually be friends with him. He has no choice in the matter and is resigned to the worst-case scenario of a mate he’ll end up hating for the rest of his life. His biggest worry is that he’ll no longer be able to keep his best friend in his life. If his mate says he can’t have friends, that will be the end of it and he won’t be able to say a thing against that decision. It’s his worst fear, and he can’t keep his tears at bay even during his own mating ceremony as he feels like he’s losing the only real friend he’s ever had.
Jenner isn’t entirely sure why his new mate looks like he’s going to his death. He wants to be friends with Cam, and his traditions make it hard to get close to him. His father wanted to make sure he fell in love before he was thirty and thought mating him to someone would be the best way to get that accomplished. Jenner is looking forward to getting to know his new mate, if only Cam will let that happen. The little glimpses he’s had of the real Cam tell him he’s been mated to a feisty man who won’t back down, and Jenner wants more time with that side of him and a lot less with the one who only wants to do what’s expected of them and looks absolutely miserable all the time.
Having an arranged mating isn’t ideal, but for Cam and Jenner it might be the best thing for them both.
Signed with a Heart
Being forced into an arranged mating is the last thing Leo needs, especially when he knows it will end horribly and he’s already falling for another man.
Leo, a cheetah shifter, knows he will be married off to a man of his parents’ choosing. He won’t have any choice in the matter. When his father informs him Antonio will be his mate, he doesn’t exactly like the man, but is determined to make the best of it. Knowing he’ll be cut out of the life he’s known before, he wants to go from Spain to Washington state so he can have a last few days with his best friend Cam. But Cam and his mate are out on vacation and Leo finds Taruk at their house instead.
Taruk doesn’t exactly understand the recent trend in the elk herd he belongs to toward having arranged marriages, but he’s not overly worried about it, since he’s not high on the pecking order. After seeing how happy his best friend Jenner is with his mate, Cam, Taruk wonders if it’s not so bad. When Leo shows up while he’s house sitting, he responds to the fear and sadness emanating from the young cheetah. The two are drawn together only to be torn apart when Leo’s promised mate arrives and takes Leo away.
The two struggle with the feelings their brief encounter has awakened. Then when disaster strikes, only that new love is enough to hold them both together.
I recently read all the eXtasy shifter series co-written by Caitlin Ricci and AJ Marcus. Obviously, there was something about these series I that kept be coming back for me. I will be reviewing the Patching Up and Watchers series in the near future. First, however, I want to talk about their Signed, Sealed, and Delivered series. Well, the first two books in it anyway.
All three of the series I mentioned are loosely connected together. However, reading one series before another isn’t a big deal. The SSD series intrigued me because of the idea of arranged matings as opposed to love or fate bonds.
When I started the first book, Sealed with Honor, I was a little wrong-footed by the way they just jumped straight into the customs and such of the Madagascar shifters. However, that wrong-footedness (for lack of a better term) worked well with the story. In Madagascar, mates are bought (think old fashion dowry) and must be pure. In Washington, where the bulk of the story takes place, neither is the case. Well, obviously they are getting in on the buying of mates thing. I am thinking we will learn more about why as the series progresses.
These two stories are about two cultures colliding. Not only are the mates different species (Elk, Fox, Bull, and Cheetah all play a part in the first two installments), the come from vastly different backgrounds and customs. They hold different values and respect different traditions.
Cam has to learn to broaden his world to include the less rigid world of Jenner. Jenner has to learn sensitivity to his sheltered mate’s quirks. Together with their friends Leo and Taruk, they make a family of sorts. A friend-ily I guess.
Only that Friend-ily is torn apart in book two when Leo is sold to Bull shifter Antonio. All the chartacters in this series very much have some of their animal personality traits in human form, so you can just imagine how well that will go. He tries to be the dutiful son, but his heart just isn’t in it. I appreciated that Leo had to face the consequences of his actions. In the end everything isn’t forgiven and tied up in a bow, but he still gets what he needs and what his heart desperately wants.
I never did figure out why Leo’s dad was so intent on Antonio for his son. However, again I think that is a culture thing and maybe something we will understand better as the series continues.
I am looking forward to the remainder of this series. It may not be perfect from a technical perspective, but it is certainly entertaining and worth the read.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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