I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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Unfortunately, this book suffered from having first-book-in-a-series syndrome by spending too much time on world-building.
Sean Quinn is beaten by the man he thought to be his father and then kicked out of the house. Cut off from his money, he is faced with having to drop out of school just a month or so short of finishing. In a final attempt to make money any way he can, he considers selling himself on the streets, like his friend Leroy. While Leroy is starting to 'train' Sean, they cross the path of a dangerous man known as "The Russian" who seems to be able to scent Sean. Leroy tries to help Sean get away, but loses his life in the fight. Bloody, Sean stumbles into the streets, into the path of a limousine occupied by Armand LaMarche, head Alpha of the North American Loup Garou council.
A whiff of Sean's blood tells Armand two things at once - he's found his mate, and his mate is a rare Omega wolf. He hustles Sean into the limo and takes him to his estate to heal, and claim him.
The story unfolds from there as Sean recuperates, learns about his heritage, learns about his Omega status and what special talent that may entail, while leery at Armand being so nice to him and offering him a place to live. He's drawn to the Alpha immediately, feeling safe in Armand's arms, but unsure of what to make of the deference he's shown and the new information he's given.
This book is a romance as much as it's a thriller - as Sean and Armand get closer, they face dangers from The Russian and from other shifters within Armand's area.
What threw me for the most part is the very proper and somewhat stiff way in which Armand talks - the dialogue often felt inorganic, though I suppose for a man hundreds of years old, that could be explained with his age. Sean definitely came across as a young man of this age and time.
While I connected with Sean to some extent, I had a difficult time connecting with Armand, possibly because of how inorganic he felt to me. The extraordinary amount spent on describing their surroundings, down to the clothes they wear and the food they eat, combined with a higher than expected amount of errors within the text also made it difficult to immerse myself into this world. As it so often happens with first books in a series, a lot of words were spent on world-building. We got a lot of historical facts about the shifters in this book, plus long monologues about their business dealings from Armand, and the book often felt too much like a history text book.
I also had some issues with Armand's insistence, in the face of real and imminent danger that the "mating" be postponed until they could get to some important compound, instead of him claiming his mate at the first possible opportunity to bind himself to Sean and vice versa. I didn't understand why, and no discernible reason was given. He felt unrealistic to me, which was only compounded by his apparent lack of sense, considering he's a rich (and somewhat spoiled) business owner in the 21st century, no matter his true age.
What did work for me were the scenes that were directly between Armand and Sean as far as their relationship was concerned. Although it felt rushed for the most part (Who Are You to I Love You within a few pages, or so it seemed), and conveniently furthered by the mating compulsion, their romance started to feel realistic enough, and by the end, I believed that they loved each other. Armand learning to be more "with the times" made me chuckle on occasion, and I thought that Sean was a good influence on him.
But - possibly a major plothole with Alphas being unable to father male cubs. How then do Alphas have descendants? I didn't quite understand that whole thing. Also, the aspect of Sean's talent that wouldn't become fully functional until after the mating - if that's the case, why would the Russian think he could force him to do his bidding?
What was also lacking was the sexual chemistry between the two main characters. Their pillow talk was cringe-worthy for the most part, and I thought that mentioning "fisting" was a bit much. While the scenes were explicit, they didn't feel realistic to me. YMMV.
There was one subplot with a young wolf girl who needs parents, and I thought that the solution was believable and worked in this setting.
I hope that the next book in this series will focus less on world-building and more on fleshing out the characters and story within. Also, while I can't blame the author for the apparent lack of editing, I hope that the next book will receive the rigorous attention to detail that should have been applied to this one. A published novel should not be riddled with typographical and grammatical errors.
** I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **