Length: 82,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
Set in the Regent’s Park pack world
Clapham Common—a new pack with their own set of problems…
Shifter Aaron Harper gets drawn into illegal underground fighting to keep an eye on his best friend. The thrill of the fight keeps him coming back for more, but discovery could mean imprisonment and banishment from their pack. Without a beta to watch over them, common sense takes a back seat.
Michael Archer of the Shifter Crimes Task Force is investigating recent murders. Despite the brutal cause of death pointing to the work of a shifter’s claws, instinct tells him a well-known nightclub owner is involved, but they have no proof.
Aaron and Michael’s paths cross after another body with the same injuries is discovered. With Aaron finding himself on the wrong side of the SCTF and Michael looking for a killer, any attraction between them is both ill-advised and unlikely. But fate has other ideas.
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What this book is: an edgy suspense thriller, murder mystery, dark and gritty, with great world building (set in the same universe as Jacobs' Regent's Park Pack series) and interesting characters.
What it isn't: a romance.
Aaron and Michael feel an undeniable attraction. Initially, Aaron, a Clapham Pack shifter, is a possible suspect in the serial killer case Michael is investigation. Michael is a detective with the Shifter Crimes Task Force (SCTF); he works on crimes against humans involving shifters, and the serial killer's penchant for killing his victims by ripping out their throats certainly seems like the work of a shifter.
When Aaron's alibi for the night of the third murder proves airtight, Michael and his partner ask Aaron and his best friend Harry to help them with the case, which is tied to an illegal fighting ring ran by the mysterious Mr. Smith. Harry was betting on the fights, and in order to keep an eye on Harry, Aaron became involved as a one of the fighters, substantially holding back on his strength and speed to pass as a human.
The mystery plot is well done. I was kept guessing until the end; we, like the detectives, are pretty much kept in the dark regarding Mr. Smith's motives and the involvement of a missing shifter.
I have no beef with the writing or the pacing. I was very much engrossed in the story.
My main issue is that the romance got completely lost in the suspense plot. Michael and Aaron have a sexy moment around the 65 percent mark and again at the end, and there is definitely some eye fucking. But beyond that, the relationship development is MIA. Forget dinner dates and long walks in the moonlight; this is all systems GO, run, hide, FIGHT.
We meet many secondary characters—various detectives from Michael's jurisdiction, Aaron's best friend Harry, and Aaron's alpha and beta—which further dilutes the story.
The ending is a weak HFN. Michael is very insistent that he doesn't belong to anyone and doesn't want to change into a shifter. Aaron gets a little possessive, and they decide to try and stay together.
Honestly, I wasn't sold. The sexual attraction was there, but the emotional connection was lukewarm at best.
I do think this series has big potential. I love the universe Annabelle Jacobs created and hope future books in the series have a stronger romantic focus (and more steam!).
** A free copy of this book was provided by Signal Boost Promotions as part of this review tour in exchange for an honest review. **
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