A MelanieM Review: Scent of the Heart (Shifting Needs #2) by Parker Williams

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Scent-400x600 2Casey Scott grew up being told he’d never amount to anything, and despite the unwavering love and support from his best friend, Jake, the idea sticks in the back of Casey’s mind. When he discovers he has a unique destiny in an enclave where shifters and humans live together, he seizes the chance, wanting for once in his life to be someone special.

Tsvetok Yerokhin lost his parents to the evil ruler of the enclave when he was a boy. The responsibilities of raising his two younger brothers nearly overwhelmed him and self- doubt took over. When the new Alpha and his Protector arrive in time to save his life, Sev is grateful, but he’s even more shocked when he scents his mate with them.

Casey isn’t prepared for the feelings that sweep over him when he meets Sev, but he refuses to act on them because he’s straight. Still, there is something so alluring about Sev that Casey can’t help being drawn to him.

As the two explore the edges of their new discovery, an evil returns, determined to control the enclave or destroy it. The Alpha and Protector are powerless to stop it, but Casey holds the key to victory. If he can discover what it is, he has a chance to save them all. To be the hero.

Unfortunately, the hero has to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, and for Casey that means losing his heart.

Ever fallen in love with a secondary character?  Maybe two?  That happened for me in the first story of this series, Protector of the Alpha.  It was there that I met Casey Scott, best friend of Jake Davis. Casey ends up getting pulled into the drama and heartbreak that surrounds his friend and Jake’s mate, Zak.  The most human and confused of the three, he was the character who came across as the most accessible and vulnerable.  A secondary character, Casey grew in strength and depth until by the end of the story, he was their equal.

Except in accessibility. In that area, he continued to surpass them just because he was the most human.

Especially at the end, where it seemed he was the unlikely target of the ire of a skunk, one who repeatedly sprayed him to the others endless amusement.   Why was Casey the one who got “skunked”?  The last paragraph supplied only part of the  answer.  This book does the rest.  Who knew a skunk shifter could be so endearing?  Apparently Parker Williams, that’s who.

With Scent of the Heart, Parker Williams continues to build his isolated shifter universe in Alaska, filling in more of its past history and current status with its village inhabitants.  And for the most part, its a universe still on shaky ground.  Once the false Protector took over, the place became the site of torture, depravation, and constant terror for most of those who lived under his rule.  What that means exactly dribbles out in horrific details that surface throughout this story.  It cements Elizar and his wolf enforcer Kell as evils that must be defeated at all possible cost and highlights just how desperate and essential it is  that they, Jake, Zake, Casey and Hakim succeed in overthrowing him.

We bought into their mission and into these marvelous characters first, and now we see what has happened after they think they have achieved their goals.  Pretty realistically, some things are working out great, others not so much.  All three have resigned themselves to staying in Alaska.  For the most past, they like their lives and have shouldered their responsibilities but Casey is missing a relationship of his alone.  That answer to the hole in his heart is an endearing skunk shifter, Tsvetok Yerokhin aka Sev.  Sev matches Casey in his vulnerability and engaging personality.  But his past is full of pain and loss, just as Casey’s is, but in a vastly different way.  That comes into focus when it becomes apparent that he is the guardian of his two younger brothers and had had to do things he is not proud of in order to keep them alive.

As if its not enough for them to adjust to all the changes going on in their lives, it turns out that they are mated, shocking when neither has been attracted to men before.  This book is all about changes, fundamental upheavels in outlook and status that both characters must undergo and adjust to if both are to survive.  It’s a dramatic and heart-stopping journey and I loved every bit of it.  Parker Williams has made us care deeply about these men and the village they live in.  Our hearts are as engaged as Casey and Sev’s in their journey to love and HEA, a path fraught with peril and even death.

And its not over yet.  The end, of course, brings another intriguing (if foreseen) element and the jumping off point for the next story in the series.  Its delicious and frustrating because it will make you want that story now…and it’s not even written.

Until I  get my hands on that next story, I recommend that you pick up and settle into reading the first two books in Parker Williams’ Shifting Needs series.  It has romance and so many different types of shifters to love along with drama, hot sex and endearing characters you can’t get enough of.  Now if only that third book would magically appear…

Cover art by Laura Harner.  I like the woods element but the design is different enough from the first story that it doesn’t exactly pull them together. Only the framing of the title serves to brand the series, not the graphic.

Sales Links:    All Romance (ARe) –  Amazon    Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Published June 15th 2015 by Smashwords Edition
ISBN139781941841204
seriesShifting Needs #2

Shifting Needs Series in the order they were written and should be read:

 

A MelanieM Review: Protector of the Alpha (Shifting Needs #1) by Parker Williams

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Protector400x600Adopted at an early age by a wealthy family, Jake Davis has always seemed to have an easy life. Even in college he was blessed with good grades and an apparently clear path to a pro football career. Good thing his best friend keeps hanging around to keep his head from getting too swollen.

Zakiya Incekara has always been…odd. Being fluent in six languages and having a flair for international cooking should open the world to him, but those skills leave him isolated.

When Jake sees Zak for the first time, with water beading down his slender form, something inside him shifts, and it hungers for Zak. To have him. To claim him. And Jake knows that whatever it is, it won’t be denied.

When they are approached by a man who claims knowledge of a secret past they share, Jake and Zak are thrust into a world they would never have believed existed. The forests of Alaska might seem an odd place to find your destiny, but these men will meet the challenges head on, as they learn that sometimes you have to make sacrifices to be Protector of the Alpha.

There are so many little surprises awaiting readers in Protector of the Alpha by Parker Williams and none can be divulged because they are spoilers (big and small).  That makes writing this review a tad frustrating, trust me, it really does.  Parker Williams doesn’t go for the typical here. That in itself delighted me when my expectations were upended as to where the story and characters were going.  The discarding of the expected starts with the main characters.

Jake Davis is a muscular, athletic to the point of perfection, hot man on campus.  Adopted by a wealthy family when a toddler, Jake has sailed through his life so far, even if it meant the odd nightmare or so.  But suddenly everything in Jake’s life starts to go so very wrong.  And its starts with another young man new at school.

Zakiya Incekara speaks 6 languages, cooks like a high paid chef, and has the (hidden) martial arts skills of a master.  All that, a small physique, delicate features with long black hair,combined with a small town collegiate atmosphere, make Zak not just the weird boy on campus but a target for bullies.

Then Jake meets Zak and both lives turn upside down forever.  As well as those lives of the people around them, especially Jake’s best friend since childhood, Casey Scott.

I loved all three characters, each as different from the other as can be.  Jake who would be obnoxious, except his personality is kind, protective, and fair.  Zak could be overly quirky except he comes with his own fair amount of past pain and uncertainty.  And  Casey, well, I think most people are going to adore Casey because it’s so easy to relate to him.  Casey has stood in Jake’s shadow for his entire life and thought college would be his ticket to being his own man and to making his own reputation.  Until his father informs him that he will be going to the same college as Jake, no argument and no questions.  The resentment Casey feels and the guilt because it involves his best friend is a situation and emotional state the reader will believe in and understand.  Yep, adore all three.

The mystery you are anticipating creeps into the story slowly at first and then rapidly as events start to shatter the calm of their lives on campus.  Death and anguish are soon to follow as is a journey for all into their pasts and nightmares of their youth.  Then the run to safety is on and so is the pace of the story and the action of the adventure.

Williams tightens his focus on these young men to the extent that others in their story feel less substantial.  And perhaps that’s necessary because the secondary characters here for the most part are temporary ones.  With a few exceptions.  I wished for a little more backstory at first, but that arrives with quite a few shockers of its own so it’s a tricky balance that the author needs to achieve between giving the reader a firm foundation and not revealing too much before the narrative calls for it.  Parker Williams manages that here.  I loved being lured into the new world along with Jake, Zak, and Casey.  It made me their companion and never was I so happy to be along for the ride.

There are some light hearted moments to break up the dread and awfulness that meets them along the way.  Williams is also setting the stage with the characters and events to come in the next story.

Protector of the Alpha was a wonderful read.  It was fun, suspenseful, sexy and full of adventure.  I can’t wait for it to continue in Scent of the Heart.  I highly recommend this story to all that love romance and shifters in love.

Cover art by Laura Harner.  Lovely cover.  I loved the simplicity of the outline although that embellishment around the title was a little too fancy for me.

Sales Links:  All Romance (ARe)  –  Amazon    Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 195 pages
Published November 10th 2014 by Smashwords Edition
ISBN139781937252939
seriesShifting Needs #1

Shifting Needs Series in the Order They Should be Read:

  • The Protector of the Alpha (Shifting Needs #1)
  • Scent of the Heart (Shifting Needs #2)