Sheriff Lance Beaufort is the principal law enforcement officer in the small town of Mad Creek, California, a sleepy little town that also happens to be predominately populated by dog shifters. These “quickened” dogs have gained the ability to become human, some in this generation, but others are born that way, the children and grandchildren of dogs who’ve been quickened. Descended from quickened Border collies on both sides of his family line, Lance is the best guardian the town could have as he takes his job very seriously and never lets personal issues interfere with his mission.
So it’s no surprise that he’s suspicious when a young man shows up who seems to be without resources and smelling of marijuana. Tim Weston is there to grow a new hybrid rose for a woman who owns a property on the edge of town. In exchange for Tim’s skills as a horticulturist, Tim can live there rent-free for six months. While he’s trying to get the hybrid roses to grow, he’s also planting a variety of vegetables that he plans to sell at farmer’s markets in the summer, an endeavor which he hopes will generate enough money to support himself and to begin to pay rent on the property when the six months is up.
But Sheriff Lance doesn’t take his word for the fact that he’s renting the property. Suspicious should be his middle name, so he shifts into his Border collie persona and goes to check out the grounds for himself. Unfortunately, as he’s leaving, Tim’s pickup truck hits him, and he’s forced to go along with the charade of being a dog under Tim’s care for a while. He then finds that Tim isn’t quite what he thought he was. He’s not a pot-smoking loser trying to get rich by planting marijuana in the fields, instead, he’s a sweet young man, who is only trying to make ends meet, and he seems to be very much in need of someone to snuggle. Lance decides he’ll be that man—um, dog—at least until he can get to the bottom of things.
Tim thought he was getting away from all his troubles when he came to Mad Creek. His former boss had taken out patents on the vegetable and flower hybrids that Tim generated, keeping everything in his own name and pocketing all the profits. And as if that’s not bad enough, his father was physically abusive when he was a child so Tim has no home at all. Of course he welcomes the dog into his life, a dog he names Chance.
Naturally, nothing goes according to plan for either man. When Tim’s greenhouse is destroyed by someone who thinks he’s in competition with their own pot-growing operation, and the true story of Lance’s deception comes out, Tim feels totally abandoned and betrayed all over again. Will Lance be able to overcome his foolish mistakes to make Tim believe that they are mates and that Lance loves him with all his heart? Or will the troublemakers lurking in Tim’s past revisit his life and cause even more havoc than before?
Ack! I loved this story! I have been a devout fan of Eli Easton ever since I first read The Lion and the Crow, a story she created for the Goodreads M/M Romance Group in 2012. There is nothing that she’s written that I don’t like, but this one really touched my heart. The canine element, with their big blue soulful eyes, and the humor throughout the story sold me on this one. There were times I laughed out loud as I was listening to the audiobook. Narrator Matthew Shaw did an outstanding job. His narration was fast-paced, and the timing of the humorous parts of the story was spot-on, yet the narrative for the sadder, lonelier times was equally compelling. When he emulated the hopeless, soulful howl which Lance let out when he thought he had lost Tim for good, it brought tears to my eyes.
I can’t recommend this story highly enough, and I’m excited beyond measure to find out that this is the beginning of a series. The next story is a must buy for me. Bring it on, Eli Easton—I want more of these quickened dogs and their human sides, as soon as possible, please. If you like shifter stories and sweet romance, this is the book for you. And don’t hesitate to pick up the audiobook version. It’s bound to add more to the story than you would get from reading it alone.
The bright and cheerful cover art depicts a beautiful black border collie, leashed, and sitting next to his master as they pause to pose. It’s exactly as I’d imagine Chance would look, and though Tim’s face isn’t shown in the picture, it’s evident by his posture that the dog is sitting next to his owner.
Audible Audio, 6 pages
Published March 19th 2015 by Pinkerton Road (first published February 28th 2015)
original titleHowl at the Moon
seriesHowl at the Moon #1
charactersLance Beaufort, Tim West