The alpha hero isn’t as obviously strong as you’d expect. He’s a lost soul searching for a pack of his own. Scott, the beta, isn’t strong and decisive, just one rung below the alpha. He’s a ditzy artist with a sense of direction that wouldn’t challenge a blank piece of paper. The ‘sundry others’ is Danny, a man never meant to lead, but who works his butt off to provide for his Mate. He’s the real hero of this novel.
Scott and Danny live in a run-down trailer. Their relationship glows for all its dysfunction. You know from the first page they’re meant to be together forever, and you know, just as clearly, they’re floundering. They don’t have long before everything explodes. Danny can’t keep going the way he has been and, when he trips and falls, Scotty will be gone—not because he wants to be, but because he can’t function without Danny.
Enter Mick, stage right. It’s Mick’s job to provide the stability and security Danny and Scott need to keep them together, to make them more than before.
The identification of Mates was another difference in this novel, from other shifter stories. Usually, meeting your Mate is something that hits the shifter between the eyes so sharply every previous idea of life and love is completely overturned. That didn’t happen in this story. There was no emotional acknowledgement that Scott and Danny were Mick’s Mates. We were told it was so. That lack of drama with regard to Mates confused me at the beginning. My preconceptions made me question Mick’s motivation, especially when he had sex with Scott almost immediately, before he met Danny, even though he knew Scott and Danny were Mates. At the time it seemed to show a complete disregard for the connection Scott and Danny shared, regardless of the fact Mick told Scott he respected it.
Scott is absolutely adorable, although he came across as very young, often too young. His naivety and absolute, unquestioning trust made me worry about him.
Danny broke my heart. He worked so hard to keep Scotty safe but nothing he did was enough. Then in waltzes Mick, who takes over and makes everything wonderful with little more than a snap of his fingers. Danny was drawn beautifully.
It’s no wonder, with two such unique characters as Scott and Danny, that Mick would come across flat and insipid for the first half of the book. I think Tortuga intended Mick to be—not weak, but translucent—at the beginning because he’d been alone too long. He certainly grew in substance throughout the story and, by the end, was a protector worthy of the other two. Unfortunately his lack of character strength at the beginning, and his too-slow growth throughout, set my opinion of him as… meh.
My test for a book: would I read it again? Yes. Definitely. Even with the problems with Mick at the beginning, this book is so different from other shifter stories, it’s like the first autumn breeze. I know, without knowing where or what, that there are subtle layers in this story that I’ll find on a second or subsequent reading.