Series: Beasts of Yellowstone, Book 1
Story in a nutshell…
Tess panics when she is pulled over by the police while transporting drugs for her ex-boyfriend, Nick, who is a drug dealer. She takes off then eventually ditches her car to escape into the Yellowstone Park woods. Dean and Jace are two ex-cop bear shifters, now Yellowstone Park Rangers, who get assigned to track her down and bring her in. When Jace and Dean first see a photo of Tess, they have an instant attraction and Dean, at least, knows immediately he is looking at his fated mate. Jace needs a little more convincing but still has an undeniable attraction to Tess. So they finally find their destined mate but she is a fugitive from the law and they have a responsibility to apprehend her to face justice and possibly jail. Well, doesn’t that just suck?
What I liked...
I liked the fugitive angle of the story and especially that Tess was an actual fugitive, not just someone who is really innocent but was set up to look guilty. Tess was a drug runner. She admits and owns it, no excuses. She made some stupid decisions, including running from the police, and she knows it. She does explain at some point how she got into the drug running business. I was very curious how this problem would be resolved in the end to bring them all their HEA. That is another thing I liked. It was a full story with an HEA. Romance readers rejoice, you will get an actual HEA.
I also liked Dean and Jace’s characters, their interaction and banter with each other, and also that they had very distinct personalities.
Dean is very carefree and wears his heart on his sleeve. He reminded me of a loyal puppy, just living in the moment and not questioning his feelings. He knew Tess was his mate from the moment he saw her picture and never wavered. He wanted to find her to learn more about her and hoped she wasn’t really wasn’t guilty of the charges. He half-heartedly tells himself he should be doing the right thing and find her in order to take her into custody, but it really was never an option for him in his heart. Once he finds her, all bets were off and Tess was his. Turning her in was not an option any more.
Jace, on the other hand, is more reserved and cautious. Due to past family trauma, he is resistant to the idea of a fated mate and resists his feelings. His desire for Tess and his sense of responsibility and duty constantly war within him until he can’t resist anymore and accepts Tess as his fated mate.
I also liked that their characterization as bear shifters wasn’t just lip service. They shift numerous times during the story, usually to fight, protect, and track or travel in the woods, so their characterization as bear shifters was developed. Some shifter books I’ve read have just one or maybe two, if any, brief scenes and then the reader is supposed to accept them as shifters. Um no, I need to be shown they are shifters and have it be a strong part of the character behavior. I think this book did that for me.
What I didn't like...
As much as I like the fugitive plot as well as Dean and Jace, I just didn’t like the way the sex scenes were written. At all. I read romance for the feels. I want the emotion to come through regardless if it’s a little sex or a lot of sex, whether rough or gentle. I want the angst and the struggle and all the emotions and feels that go with it. The sex scenes in this book didn’t give me that. It felt more like something one would expect from erotica/porn, which isn’t a bad thing per se, but it just didn’t work for me in a romance. The dialogue in these scenes got cheesy and came off like a porn movie. For example, Tess says stuff like:
“F*** yes! F*** me, Dean!”
“F*** yes, Jace,” she panted. “Do it! F*** me good… don’t hold back!”
All the explanation marks made it read like they were yelling at each other, too. Even the time Dean blurts out “I love you!” during one of these scenes, I didn’t really feel the emotion. The sex scenes were just a fail for me. Just no overall sense of romance. I also didn’t like some word choices in the book, which not surprisingly, are often related to the sex or body parts.
Nick needed to be in the story earlier in the book. Her ex-boyfriend is actually a villain of the story but he doesn't come into the story until near the end. He was always this distant villain described by Tess or someone else. Instead, he sends others to go after Tess. I think witnessing him in all his villainy ways prior to the final confrontation would have made him more believable as the bad guy.
Jace and Dean seem to have gotten off too easy, as in absolutely no consequences, considering some of the things they did in their pursuit and protection of Tess. At a minimum I would think they would have been subject to some minimal investigation and accountability for some of their actions.
Finally, the book needs more proofreading. The short sample I read at first wasn’t bad, but the book overall had more typos than I would expect from a book this size and some inconsistencies/logic blips.
Mostly I like the fugitive story plot as well as Dean and Jace’s characters but I really disliked the way the sex scenes were written. I would give 4 stars for the story/characters and 2 stars for the sex scenes, so I’m giving this book a total of 3 stars.
-Did the story keep me turning the page? Yes
-If I put the book down did I want to get back to it? Yes
-Would I try another book by this author? Hmmm, maybe I’d be willing to give it a try but if I didn’t get the feels I expect and want from a Romance, then it would probs be the last one.
I received a free advanced review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
-Heat Level: Erotic, door is wide open, m/f/m ménage, several scenes, no back door
-Cover Art: Good and genre appropriate - I know it is ménage and about bear shifters from the cover image but I don’t think it necessarily reflects character descriptions that well, except maybe Jace.
-Print length: 228 (estimated per Amazon)
-Word Count: 67,000 (novel on the shorter side)
-Kindle locations: 3736 total - story text ends at 3722 or 99%.