Review of Nate’s Deputy (Shifters’ Haven #5) by Lavinia Lewis

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Rating: 4.25 stars

Nate Stanford is back home in Wolf Creek, Texas following the death of his brother, Rick.  Guilt stricken over his falling out with his brother, of not being there when Rick needed him the most, Nate is determined to buy back his family’s ranch as a way to make amends to his dead brother.  Rick’s Alpha, Nate Morgan, has given Nate a place to stay and a job to tide him over. But there is someone else interested in bidding on the family farm to his consternation.

Jared Ambrose came to town to take the job of Deputy in Wolf Creek, bringing with him his younger brother Tristan.  Since their father died, Tristan has been getting in trouble, drink binging and hanging out with the wrong crowd.  Jared hopes that a change from Lubbock to Wolf Creek will make all the difference to Tristan and their relationship which has become increasingly distant.  Now that their family has been narrowed down to two, Jared hopes to make Sheriff and settle down permanently in a town where the wolf shifters outnumber humans 3 to 1, even if the humans aren’t aware of the fact.

When a fight in a bar brings Nate and Jared together, both men realize they are mates.  But Jared is afraid the town won’t vote for a gay Sheriff and Rick’s death has left Nate feeling unworthy of Jared, so  neither man acknowledges their bond.  But someone is causing trouble for the pack in Wolf Creek and the Supernatural Council is sending operatives to evaluate the situation and the current pack leadership.  As everything becomes increasingly unsettled, Nate and Jared will have to come together to fight for their pack’s and Tristan’s safety or have their decision to remain apart threaten the stability of those they love.

The Shifters’ Haven series is built around Wolf Creek, Texas and its pack of wolf shifters.  Wolf Creek is two thirds shifters in population, a situation that the human population is ignorant of as all shifters have worked hard to keep themselves hidden. Each book brings together a different mated pair with a continuous plot line of dissension among the Supernatural Council which is composed of shifters of all types, from hawk to cougar. From the first installment, you are made aware of the Council who governs all shifters with their rules and regulations and the possibility of corruption within that impacts Wolf Creek and beyond.  From book to book, each time a member of the Council intervenes or arrives on the scene, you become less assured as to who the “good guys” are.  Also each book widens the Wolf Creek pack with new family members and sometime new species of shifters are given haven.

Nate’s Deputy is the 5th in the Shifters’ Haven series and is being touted as a standalone too. But I would discount that as each book brings more of the backstory of Wolf Creek and its denizens as well as contributes to the mystery concerning the supernatural Council.  Lavinia Lewis does a wonderful job with her characterizations of the town’s members as well as her vivid descriptions of Texas, dusty and hot in the summer season.  You can almost feel the dirt and sweat accumulate on your skin or fur under the Texas sun. Wolf Creek is populated with all types of personalities, some craven, some hiding secret ambitions and agendas under bland exteriors as well as the stalwart and the noble ,the insecure and the downtrodden.  I think Lewis has crafted some wonderful individuals to populate her novels and Nate and Jared are no exceptions.  Nate, with his survivor grief to go along with brotherly guilt over his relationship with Rick, is someone we all can relate to.  He is so unsettled, so distraught with himself that the idea of someone else finding him worthy is hard for Nate to accept.  Jared too is realistic. He earned my sympathy and affection as he tries to assume responsibility for his younger brother, manage his own grief on losing his father and settle into a new town and job  while feeling utterly overwhelmed by the challenges in front of him.  Jared’s stress is palpable.

Another nice touch in this shifter series is that neither Nate or Jared want to accept or acknowledge their status as mates.  Usually in this and other series, the moment a mate is found, it is all about instant bonding with a straight shot to love happily ever after.  Not so much here.  Jared has his brother to think of and the ambition to become Sheriff in a town not always tolerant of gays.  Nate is uncertain about his future in Wolf Creek, still trying to come to terms with his brother’s death and his own lack of a role within the pack.  No rush to love here, just two men who happen to be shifters dealing with life’s roadblocks and detours.  I really liked their fumble towards a relationship.

My quibble here regards the continuing issues within the Supernatural Council and the problems they caused here.  The end seemed abrupt and a little too streamlined considering all the events leading up to the denouement, especially considering the main issue for the shifters of whether to remain hidden or come out to the human population is never really addressed.  Perhaps that is coming down the line in future books.  I can only hope so.  My other quibble is the length of the books.  All are novellas and could be helped by the addition of more length, more exposition.  Still  I found this to be a wonderful new installment to a terrific series.

Once again Posh Gosh is giving us lush, gorgeous covers for the entire series.  Beautiful branding and great design for each and every book.

Here are the Shifter Haven series in the order they were written and should be read in order to fully appreciate the characters, relationships and plots.

Luke’s Surprise (Shifters’ Haven #1) . Luke Morgan and Mark Malone’s story

Cody’s Revelation (Shifters’ Haven #2) – Cody Morgan and Stefan Drake’s story

Kelan’s Pursuit (Shifters’ Haven #3) – Kelan Morgan and Jake Bradfield’s story

Aaron’s Awakening (Shifters’ Haven #4) – Aaron Drake and Cary Lewis

Nate’s Deputy (Shifters’ Haven #5)

Gregory’s Rebellion (Shifters’ Haven #6)

Pete’s Persuasion (Shifters’ Haven #7) coming in October 2012

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