Reviewed by Vicki
TITLE: Prickly Business
SERIES: Portland Pack Chronicles #1
AUTHORS: Piper Vaughn and Kenzie Cade
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 256 pages
Some people might call Avery Babineaux a prick. He’s a hedgehog shifter from an old-money Louisiana family with a penchant for expensive shoes and a reputation for being a judgmental snob. His attitude is why he and his fated mate are estranged. Not that Avery cares. He doesn’t want to be mated to some blue-collar werewolf anyway. Or so he keeps telling himself.
No werewolf likes to be looked down upon, least of all Dylan Green. He doesn’t need a mate, especially not some snotty hedgehog who sneers at his custom motorcycle shop and calls him a grease monkey. But when Avery gets into trouble with a shady loan shark, Dylan can’t stand by and let him be hurt—whether he wants the brat or not.
Yet once Dylan steps into Avery’s world, he realizes there’s more to Avery than his prickly exterior, and that unexpected vulnerability calls to Dylan’s protective instincts. The sassy little hedgehog needs a keeper, and despite their horrible first impressions, Dylan starts to believe he might be the wolf for the job.
Alright. I have to admit I picked this book up purely for the novelty of a hedgehog shifter. I have seen Piper talking about it on Facebook for months, and I’ve been fascinated by it, but…. a hedgehog shifter? Mated with a wolf shifter? I was expecting a cheesy, goofy story, I thought maybe I’d like it since I do love shifter stories, but I’m not sure I expected it to be really good. Guess what?? IT WAS AWESOME!!! I loved this book!
Avery is our little hedgehog shifter, he’s a spoiled brat, living off of daddy’s money until he gets his inheritance. He moved from Louisiana to Portland to go to school and stayed after finishing. He has no job, just hangs out, takes yoga lessons, and parties with his best friend Jaden, a wolf shifter. Avery has as little to do with the local werewolf pack as possible, other than seeing Jaden. He’s gotten permission from the alpha to stay in Portland, but he keeps away from the big smelly wolves. Imagine his surprise when he discovers his mate is a big smelly wolf named Dylan. Ugh. They meet, it doesn’t go well on either side, and they keep away from each other. Until they meet again, and Avery gets himself in trouble. Dylan’s protective mate instinct kicks in and he can’t walk away from the prickly little guy.
Dylan is a big bad werewolf, builds custom bikes for a living, likes to party a bit, basically likes to be an independent man. His dad is an asshole, his parents are mates but he’s never seen the good side of that bond. The last thing he wants is a mate. The ABSOLUTE last thing he wants is a little brat of a hedgehog shifter for a mate. Then the little shit insults him and he’s done. But maybe he’s not when it really matters.
So Avery gets himself in trouble, Dylan bails him out. Avery gets cut off from his family money and is forced to take a job delivering food to home bound werewolves. At first he’s mortified, but then the wolves begin to get under his skin. Especially the sad old one, whose daughter is missing. No one is willing to help, so Avery gets a wild hair and decides to play detective. Which leads to Dylan getting involved. Which leads to sexy times! But no biting, no mating. Just fucking and a lovely appearance of Dylan’s knot of love.
The two get drawn in to a nice bit of mystery, local girls are vanishing, a human trafficking group is uncovered, and Avery shows he’s not the idiot everyone thinks he is. There is a backbone underneath the prickles!
I loved this story! It was not the cheesy fluff I was expecting. I don’t think I’ve read anything by either author before, so other than the description I was going in blind. The writing was very good, and the characters were well done. It’s a slightly longer book, 256 pages, so there is time to get to know the characters. Not just Dylan and Avery, who I loved, but also Dylan’s buddies. Jaden is still a bit of a mystery, I hope we see more of him in the future. I liked Dylan’s friends, they stepped up when needed, and were some comedy relief when needed as well. I liked that although Dylan and Avery were mates, they didn’t actually like each other for some time. So often with fated mate stories, there is no conflict between the couple. Insta-love, insta-sex, insta-HEA. Not with these guys. The hated each other, then tolerated each other, then dated, then liked each other, THEN had sex. I liked that. The sex scenes were well written, erotic enough, and often enough, but not overwhelming. I liked the addition of the human trafficking storyline, it gave some nice drama and excitement to the story. The only thing keeping this from a five heart book was that it did drag here and there in the middle. I think it could have used a little something more in there somewhere, I’m not sure what, but there were times when I found myself waiting for something to happen. But that is minor, just an observation as I was reading.
Overall I really enjoyed this book! I can’t wait for the next one. If you are a fan of shifter stories, I’d highly recommend this one, it’s got some familiar elements, but some quirks as well. Mainly, a prickly hedgehog!