Pete’s Persuasion (Shifters’ Haven #7) by Lavinia Lewis

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Rating: 4.75 stars

Pete's Persuasion coverTony has been examining his life in New York and doesn’t like what he sees, a shallow man pursuing his career, without friends or a man to love. Tony is missing his best friend, Jake who is now living with his cowboy in Texas and happier than Tony has ever seen him.  So when Tony decides he is due for a change, its to Texas and Jake that he decides to vacation.  A vacation that will land him in the middle of a killer’s quest for revenge and into a world of wolf shifters.

Pete Johnson, beta of alpha Kelan’s Wolf Creek pack, is tired of seeing all the shifters around him find their mates while he remains alone.  After the madness with the council member gone mad, all he wants to do is buy the bar he manages and settle down.  But once more, a killer rises up from the ash of the plot by a Supernatural  Council rogue member to threaten all the members of the Wolf Creek pack.  The night Tony arrives, someone burns both the bar and Kelan’s Crazy Horse Ranch to the ground, killing humans and shifters alike.  During the investigation, Pete meets Tony for the first time and realizes Tony is his mate.  When Jake gets critically injured during the blast that brings down the bar, Tony sees something so unreal, so unbelievable, that he thinks he is hallucinating.  Both Kelan and Pete’s features start to change and Tony discovers the reality of shifters.

As the killer escalates their plan to make the people involved in the rogue Councilman’s death pay, Pete must make Tony understand they are mates, sooth his concerns over shifters being real, and try to keep him safe until the killer is caught.  Not a easy take when Tony is divided between wanting to help and wanting to flee back to New York.  Can Pete persuade his mate to stay with him in Texas or will the killer take revenge on all the shifters in Wolf Creek, and their mates as well.

Shifters’ Haven is a series that continues to grow in depth and complexity and Pete’s Persuasion is the best book yet in this terrific series.  In fact, I still find it hard to believe that it is only 92 pages long as it has the feel and emotional heft of a much larger book.  Pete’s Persuasion continues with the aftermath of the death of the rogue Council member who was killing the mates of shifters who wished to remain hidden from the human world.  Now someone is seeking revenge for his death and everyone is a target.  I loved the continuity that flows smoothly from one book to the next, with nary a dropped plot point.  Lewis never gives us extraneous storyline side trips but instead juggles all the characters and locations masterfully as she maneuvers her characters and the reader towards a goal yet unseen.  If a certain element appears, whether human, shifter or Council law, then you can be sure it will figure seamlessly into the plot at some point, even if it takes a book or two to accomplish it.

Another facet of Lewis’ stories that I admire is that there are no throwaway characters.  If she mentions someone, then you can be sure they will make another  appearance down the line.  Tony, Jake’s best friend of 10 years, is first mentioned in Kelan’s Pursuit (Shifters’ Haven #3), but it took four more books until he reappeared as a main character.  And there is no such thing as a cookie cutter character in her stories either.  These men or shifters laugh, love, and hurt in such a believable fashion that there is never a strain to remember the cast of characters and their relationships to each other, something that can happen with long running series.

A nice element that Lewis works into her shifter universe, is that there is no instant love between mates.  There is desire certainly (hot sex too), there is a feeling of completeness and a recognition that each melds with the other but it takes time for the love to form.  Her shifters also physically shift instead of  a blink of an eye transformation, but there is no physical pain, just a momentary disconnect between the wolf and the man.

And finally, Lewis gives us scenes of such intensity, such fear, that she can make your heart pound and your pulse rate speed up with her action sequences, fight scenes and blazing conflagrations as the  burning buildings start coming down around our characters.  Really, she does an amazing job with her harrowing descriptions and vivid scenes that you feel like you are there.

So I cannot wait for the next in the series and one of the main reasons is that at the end of this book, the killer is once again on the loose.  The plot continues, the anxiety and dread rises with the stakes higher than ever.  Shifters’ Haven has me well and truly hooked.  You will be too but don’t start here. Go back to the beginning and read the series in the order they were written, which is the only way it will make sense.  You are going to love this.

Luke’s Surprise (Shifters’ Haven, #1)

Cody’s Revelation (Shifters’ Haven, #2)

Kelan’s Pursuit (Shifters’ Haven, #3)

Aaron’s Awakening (Shifters’ Haven #4)

Nate’s Deputy (Shifters’ Haven #5) – my review here.

Gregory’s Rebellion (Shifters’ Haven, #6)  – read my review here.

Pete’s Persuasion (Shifters’ Haven, #7)

Cover art by Posh Gosh.  The covers for this series is lovely but not up to the heights of the Leopard’s Spots series.  Still, it pulls in many of the elements of the story and still manages to brand the series from other shifter books.

Review of Gregory’s Rebellion (Shifters’ Haven #6) by Lavinia Lewis

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Rating: 4.25 stars

Leopard shifter Gregory Hale has been sent by the supernatural council to pick up a young jaguar shifter in Las Vegas and bring him into Council headquarters as they have determined the young man’s loner status has made him a potential danger to the humans around him.  But Gregory has watched Hayden at a distance for days and everything about the young shifter shouts neglect and pain.  When Gregory finally contacts Hayden, he realizes that Hayden is his mate but there is no acknowledgement on Hayden’s part that the recognition is mutual.  Hayden is skinny to the point of starvation and his face is marred by a raw scar that stretches from eye to mouth on one side of his face, a scar that should have healed when Hayden shifts.  Hayden has come from a traumatized past, but he won’t confide in Gregory, not yet at least. More than ever, Gregory is determined not to let Hayden fall into the council’s hands and he pretends to his superiors that Hayden has slipped away from him, to their immediately displeasure.  Gregory is, in fact, taking Hayden to Kelan’s Crazy Horse Ranch knowing the Alpha will help him hide Hayden and keep him safe.

Gregory still has the corruption within the council to deal with and a new series of murders to investigate.  Someone is murdering the mates of council  members, as Gregory knows all too well. Now with a mate of his own to protect, Gregory needs to get to the real culprit behind the killings before its too late.

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.

Gregory’s Rebellion picks up right where Nate’s Deputy leaves off, with Gregory on his way to Las Vegas on council  business. Gregory is still heartbroken over the events that happened back in Wolf Creek and unsettled because the real leader behind the shifter problems and crimes has  not been fully identified, at least not with proof he can use.  There has been a really nice development of Gregory’s character from book to book, from his first appearance as a council member somewhat rigid in demeanor to the compassionate person he is here.  But my focus was on Hayden, who was kicked out of his home at the age of 16 by his parents for being gay, an all too real occurrence.  Hayden has suffered since being thrown out of his home and family and has done what he had to in order to survive on the streets.  He has no self confidence, he is all shame and humiliation, his trauma written across his face in a scar he refuses to heal as a measure of his torment and degradation.  When Gregory comes into his life, he has just arrived at a modicum of security, with a boss who regards him as more family than employee and a job he likes.  Now all of that is gone in an instant, disrupted by a stranger who tells him the council is after him and wants his trust.  Lewis does a beautiful job in conveying Hayden’s confusion and fear.  I became invested in Hayden from the very beginning and stayed so to the end.  You will too.

Also carrying over is the issue of corruption in the council and the fact that someone is murdering the mates of council members, but to what end? Gregory gets caught up in trying to deal with his new mated status as well as his investigation into the problems of being part of a council he no longer trusts or believes in.  Again, all very credible and in keeping with the persona of an honorable man trying to do what’s right when confronted with the reality behind the supernatural council.  Lewis’ wonderful way with location and characterization is in top form here. It is becoming a saga of Wolf Creek versus the old order of council rule, a storyline that has intrigued me since the start of the series.

Once more, I felt the ending rushed and not as satisfactory as it might have felt to have the villain meet his comeuppance. Had the story lasted a little longer and with a more detailed exposition, then the end would feel more complete given the buildup.  Perhaps Lewis is doing this intentionally to keep the thread going in the next book up, Pete’s Persuasion (Shifters’ Haven #7).  I hope so, for it’s an interesting part of all of their stories  and it doesn’t feel finished yet.  So I am waiting impatiently for October and the next in the series.  Pick up the first book, read them all and meet me here for No. 7.  See you then.

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) – Nate and Jared. Read my review here.

Gregory’s Rebellion (Shifters’ Haven #6) – Gregory and Hayden

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

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