Grayslake is a bear town, and bears aren’t wolves. They don’t crave pack, they don’t instantly ‘mate for life’ and they have serious anger management issues. Full or partial shifts are common. (Vacationing here? Not recommended.) What they do have is a fierce protectiveness of children, a solid hierarchy, and a strong sense of justice and loyalty. (Well, except for the bad guys, of course.)
The heroine, a mostly-human, non-shifting woman has inherited a house in Grayslake from her bear shifter grandfather. Lots of people aren’t happy about that. (Prejudice is alive and well in the bear shifter community.) But Mia Baker figures she can get past that. She’ll just blend in, keep a low profile…
Good plan. Sadly, it doesn’t last past finding an abused bear cub in her pantry. One who is terrified of the drunken bear pounding on her door and demanding his nephew back. As Sheriff, Ty becomes involved when the neighbors call the disturbance in. Mia unsuccessfully tries to hide the cub, then announces he is abused and terrified of his uncle and she refuses to let him go. When Ty forces the cub to shift back to human and sees the bruises on the child’s body – both his roles as sheriff and head of the local bear community come into play. And both he and his bear really, really like Mia.
On a side note, the alpha bear is known as the Itan, his mate is the Itana. Good choice – especially if the author had followed the normal wolf shifter naming practices of alpha wolf & alpha bitch. Because with bears that would have been alpha boar and alpha sow… It would have been hard to take them seriously.
As Itan, and town sheriff as well, Ty Abrams is strong, serious, and used to being obeyed. He roars and everyone drops to their knees and bares their necks. Everyone except Mia. She both stands up to him and calms him. What an Itana she will make…
Ty keeps Mia and Parker at the den. To say the thought of a mostly human Itana is not received well in all quarters is an understatement. There’s the skinny bitch who wants the job herself, the faction that hates humans, and those that are simply concerned that mating with Mia will produce non-shifting cubs. But others quickly develop loyalties to her that supersede their loyalties to Ty when he makes the ultimate alpha mistake of ‘protecting’ her by not telling her all of what’s going on and she walks out, taking Parker with her. Or perhaps they are proving their ultimate loyalty to Ty by protecting his Itana.
The story continues with enough murders for a CSI episode being revealed and old family secrets being illuminated. The ending is satisfying – and there is lots of room for sequels. Since this is listed as the first in the Grayslake series I assume there are others already being developed. I look forward to them.
Copy received from Netgalley and publisher for an honest review.