Author: Charlie Cochet
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4 stars
Type: Novel in Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: 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.
Review: I really enjoyed Charlie Cochet’s first novella in this series, An Intrepid Trip To Love (A Little Bite of Love: Book 1), where she did amazing work world-building for this series. It made segueing into this book seamless. In case you do need reminders, though, the author has provided beautifully drawn charts into the front of the novellas in the series to help.
The world that Cochet builds is a harmonious, hopeful one for the most part, with the evil twist coming from the feuding clans. There isn’t the angst of “oh noes, I’m a werewolf shifter” or anything like that. These characters are proud and happy about what they are and are surrounded by generations of others who are the same. The trouble starts when one of the alpha clan members comes out as gay. Cochet takes a spin on contemporary real-world memes and plays them out in her pretend world in a non-threatening way that is equally humorous and compelling at times. If only it could be taught as easily on the streets of Everytown across the world.
The issues between Trip Hagan and his father, clan Alpha Matthias Hagan, are more than generational. Sure, Trip has new ideas, and he is tired of the way that the council has been leading the clan. But there are profound differences here. Trip is gay; he’d allowed himself to be forced into a loveless marriage and had produced the required Hagan heir. Once that was done, however, Trip divorced his wife and came out to the clan. Normally he’d either be killed or cast out because of this, but so far the clan members and the leaders on the council had tolerated his position out of respect for his father Matthias.
Things came to a head, however, when Trip and his true soul mate Boone bonded. Mating with the Enforcers or “bodyguards” was taboo in this culture, as well as being gay. Trip completing his mating bond with Boone was like a double negative–a HUGE no-no in their society. While the council was deciding what to do about this egregious error, another member of the clan also came out in support–which just added fuel to the fire. Especially since it was Ari Jannsen, the secret mate of Trip’s friend Hunter.
Ari was from one of the leading political families, and his mother Skyrah had hand-picked his bride from another leading family to advance politically on the council. His attempted defection ignited her rage as well as the banked hatred growing on the council and in the clan for Trip and his sympathizers–and they were forced to flee. However, before Ari could escape, he got caught in a dangerous altercation between Hunter and Skyrah, and was left behind–breaking Hunter’s heart and leaving Ari stranded with enemies.
So it’s with a heavy heart that Trip and his partner, Devil Dog Enforcer Boone Devin, formed their new clan — the Deagan Clan. Hunter is devastated by Ari’s loss, the other members are also torn from their families, but they all believe that they had no other choice. And they know it’s a matter of time until the Hagan clan comes after them–to retrieve the pups they took with them. How ugly is the war going to be? And how far is the old council willing to go to get what they want? All they can do is plan and wait.
Things aren’t going well back home. Skyrah schemes with Matthias’s hired assassin; Ari searches desperately for a way to escape when he realizes that his mother’s quest for power has caused her to lose what sanity she had; and Matthias struggles with his decisions as the council pushes for more and more death. Is that what they’ve become? Does everyone on the council have the Hagan Clan’s best interests at heart?
Sexy, intricate, paranormal world-building with humor and a quest for tolerance. I enjoyed it immensely! Thanks, Charlie Cochet.