Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Shifter Aaron Harper gets drawn into illegal underground fighting to keep an eye on his best friend. The thrill of the fight keeps him coming back for more, but discovery could mean imprisonment and banishment from their pack. Without a beta to watch over them, common sense takes a back seat.
Michael Archer of the Shifter Crimes Task Force is investigating recent murders. Despite the brutal cause of death pointing to the work of a shifter’s claws, instinct tells him a well-known nightclub owner is involved, but they have no proof.
Aaron and Michael’s paths cross after another body with the same injuries is discovered. With Aaron finding himself on the wrong side of the SCTF and Michael looking for a killer, any attraction between them is both ill-advised and unlikely. But fate has other ideas.
Butterfly Assassin is a story written in one of this author’s favorite universes of mine, that of the Regent’s Park Pack series. It’s an ongoing wolf shifter series that just keeps getting better with each couple and story so I was delighted to see a standalone novel set in that universe pop up as a new release.
There are a few crossover characters (the scary Council) but mainly this murder mystery has it’s own wonderful group of shifter and human pairings and characters to get acquainted with. Like the members of the Clapham Common Pack such as Aaron, Harry, Sam (shifters) and the human crew of the Shifter Task Force (Michael Archer and his partner Frank Coldwell to name the most important). There are, of course, so many more here.
The story begins in the illegal world of the underground fights. Aaron’s best friend has gotten himself deep into this world via betting and brought Aaron along with him. Now Aaron is know as the Butterfly Assassin, an “unbeatable human fighter”, a problem in itself as Aaron is a wolf shifter. And a wolf fighting a human? Illegal in so many ways on top of the illegal fights.
Jacobs brings this gritty, bloody world alive along with the way a wolf’s super senses make the scene awash with unpleasant odors and sounds. While I loved this aspect, the rest, including Harry and Aaron’s relationship takes a while to track. That makes connecting the murders and delving into the meat of this story a bit of a delay.
More of this universe gets filled out which I love. The biting to save a life, the rules and regs governing shifters and humans. It all makes the series foundation is more solid.
Although, once it happens…it zings!
However, what does hold this back from a bit of a higher rating is the comparison to a more recent story in the Regent’s Park Pack series. And it’s a couple comparison…the other couple is even brought up here. I’m going to go into a bit of detail so maybe you can see why this story leaves me a bit sad.
In book 4, Bitten by the Alpha, Alpha Cam had lost his human wife in the shifter wars and vowed never to love again. But he fell in love with his Beta, Gareth, they mated and bonded in this story. During which Cam admitted that while he loved his human wife deeply, finally bonding with a wolf shifter was like nothing he had ever felt before. He finally felt complete because he could now “feel” his mate through the mate bond. In other words, it was something he now knows he was missing his human wife, and the love he had felt for her was pale in comparison for the love he now felt for Gareth.
Here the couple is again a shifter and a human who doesn’t want to be turned, so they will never have that mate bond between shifters. They even mention Cam and his wife as an example of it working. But if you read Cam’s story, you know that really, Cam now realizes he never had a “true” love as much as he did love her, he and his wolf were always missing something.
That knowledge sort of haunts this romance for me. True both Aaron and Michael are only at the very beginnings of their relationship but Michael seems firm in remaining human. So HFN but what future? For me this was a hot romance. I loved the couple but honestly wondered what the future held for them both.
I would like to see if Annabelle Jacobs played with this pack again. There were several open ends here. What happens to Wilson? And Harry seriously needs someone to take him in hand before he gets in trouble again.
So yes, I really liked this story. The mystery was terrific. Full of suspense, great action, and really fast pace! If you haven’t read the other stories, that lack of bond might not bother you as it clearly does me. They are a great couple.
And yes I do recommend this story.
Cover art: Garrett Leigh at Black Jazz Design. I love this cover. Broody, hot, and totally Aaron.
Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 280 pages
Published June 8th 2018