Rating. 4.25 stars
Levi Travis is feeling overwhelmed during his family’s annual get together with the constant reminders of happy couples and families. A little time alone in the woods in his shifter form, a snow leopard, will shake off the last of the family reunion hell or so he thinks.
Lyndon Hines is running from his past and a mysterious stalker that has tracked him through many states. The trucker who gave him a ride has left him by the highway tired and hungry. The woods bordering the road look too inviting to pass up. Lyndon, in his cougar form, is exploring the woods on the Travis family ranch when a musky aroma catches his attention. It’s Levi dozing in a glade. Levi is startled as he has never met another shifter outside the family before. But Lyndon is everything Levi wants in a man, strong, dominant, and a shifter. Instant attraction flashes into a frenzied mating. But afterward Lyndon flees and Levi is left hurt and confused.
The stalker finds Lyndon again and both men must put aside their fears and confusion to come together to save each other before its too late.
This is the first book in the Leopard’s Spots series by Bailey Bradford and she sets everything in place here for the books to come. The reader is immediately introduced to Levi’s family and their shifter history. Levi’s family is a large one full of likable and endearing characters. Characterization is one of Bailey Bradford’s strong suits and that is evident in this story. I loved them all, especially his youngest brother, Oscar. Oscar has the second book in the series.
I like Levi too. His physical body shouts dom while his actual nature is more submissive, something he has never been able to convey to the few sexual partners he has had. Lyndon on the other hand is as territorial and aggressive as his cougar’s nature. Lyndon’s character comes from a background of parental neglect and abuse. The author has added enough layers to each man that they are easy to sympathize with and understand. Both have been raised isolated from other shifters but in very different circumstances. I can see the difference in histories playing out nicely over several books, including the theme of nature versus nurture in different shifter societies.
My one quibble here is that in setting the stage for Oscar and the second novel in the series, Bailey Bradford has made Oscar such a strong character that he almost takes the stage away from Levi and Lyndon. I say almost because the blazing hot sex scenes between the two shifters are enough to bring out the fans. Oscar will have to wait for his book.
Lastly, when I have read about or watched movie/shows about shifters, there seems to be two varieties. Those that shift seamlessly from person to animal. You know, one minute a person then instantly a wolf mid-leap (think Twilight commercials). And then there are those Werewolf in London transitions that are so popular as well. You know, the torturous breaking of bones, stretching of skins, fangs emerging from bloodied mouths sort of thing that takes time and getting naked before hand. ( Reviewer’s note: when it comes to Joe Manganiello’s Alcide from True Blood, the more naked the better is my opinion). The two types of shifters here each transition in a different way. Cougars shift instantly into form while the snow leopards are more of the second variety. I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t going to be a factor in the books coming up as I have not seen both types in one story before. Either way it is an interesting take.
I am looking forward to Oscar’s story and exploring more of Bailey Bradford’s view of shifters.
Cover: Art by Posh Gosh. Well, isn’t this just a gorgeous cover. Gorgeous cats, gorgeous men, great fonts. What’s not to love? Again, my only quibble is with the model types here. Both men in the book are large, masculine and hairy. Not exactly the body type of the young man in front. He is more in keeping with Oscar. Where is a truly hairy chest when you need one?