Author: Barbara Elsborg
Publication Date: February 10, 2020
Length: 160 pages
Reviewed by Nikki
Ryder’s on the company bonding trip from hell, five days of competitive cycling with competitive colleagues and an even more competitive boss. Faced with yet another vertical climb, he ignores his uninvited, insistent inner cheerleader. No, he cannot keep up, and what’s more, he’s had enough. And the weather appears to agree he should stop, when sun turns in an instant to thick fog.
Callan’s at Whittaker’s Auction House to bid on fae land that his werewolf pack need as their new home, when an unsuspecting human stumbles through the door. Ryder is out of breath, out of luck, way out of his depth—and apparently the newest item on the auctioneer’s block. Unexpectedly tempting, if Callan had the money.
As the bidding heats up and Ryder proves dangerously irresistible to the assembled supernatural creatures, the situation grows more and more precarious. When Callan interferes, he puts his pack’s future in peril. Despite knowing how devious faeries can be, desperation makes Callan accept a deal, a chance to win the land for his pack and a future with Ryder. But it’s a risk. Possibly a deadly one.
This is not 'just another Valentine's story', it's a Barbara Elsborg Valentine's story (ish). So don't expect the usual sonnets and flowers and Cupids, but do expect the unexpected - vampires, weres, witches and warlocks. Oh, and a vengeful fae. Things are not quite as they may seem. You have been warned!
I loved the idea of this story, but there were parts of the execution that left me underwhelmed. I’m going to say right now, a big part of that is probably because of my personal preferences and how I view consent.
So, the blurb pretty well covers the first twenty percent of the book, minus some heavy-handed navel-gazing. I *wanted* to get sucked into Ryder’s unintentional trip into the land of the fae and the auction scene, but there was just so much narrative and descriptions of things that I kept getting bored. Once the auction was over, you finally get a real taste of Ryder and his sassiness (one of my favorite parts) and I was finally getting drawn in. I was excited to see how Callan would balance needing the land for his pack and being drawn so strongly to this unexpected human.
Then things took a turn for the… very strange.
I’m not going to spoil the book, but the “trials” Ryder and Callan have to go through immediately threw me for a loop. I was not expecting the dub-con nature and just couldn’t get past that, even if the characters were able to get into things fairly quickly. Again, this is very possibly something I’m overly sensitive about—I glanced at a few other ARC reviews and didn’t notice anyone else having this issue.
There are some really great aspects to this book though, so don’t think I didn’t like any of it. Ryder and Callan are fabulous when they aren’t stuck in their heads; I loved their banter. The world-building was interesting and well done with some unique elements I haven’t seen in many (if any) other paranormal stories.
I definitely think I’ll try out another of Barbara’s paranormal books to see if it’s a little more my speed.
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