Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Jay Northcote
AUTHOR: The Half Wolf
PUBLISHER: Jaybird Press
LENGTH: 193 pages
RELEASE DATE: September 26, 2017
Mate, family, pack, home… can Quinn and Kellan have it all?
Quinn grew up feeling out of place in the small town he calls home. Yearning for something he can’t name, he’s always felt different but never known why.
Kellan is part of a nomadic shifter pack. When they set up camp in the woods near Quinn’s town, the humans are unwelcoming and suspicious of the newcomers. The moment Kellan catches sight—and scent—of Quinn, he knows Quinn is special. But for the first time in his life, Kellan can’t trust his instincts. Quinn is human, and Kellan is a wolf shifter, so how can they ever be mates?
Their bond is instant and exhilarating. It breaks Quinn’s heart to know their relationship can only be temporary. Love isn’t enough when pack law forbids shifters to mate with humans. Tension explodes between pack and humans, and when Quinn discovers a shocking truth about himself that changes everything, he fears he’ll have to choose between the only life he’s ever known and the man he loves.
Quinn and Kellan live in an alternate history where shifters and humans live side by side in (not-quite peaceful) peace. Quinn, a human, has spent almost his entire life in his small Welsh town. His aunt–who has raised him since the death of his parents–has taught him that shifters are not inherently bad, but when a shifter pack moves into an open field near town, it is clear that not everyone in the town is of the same opinion. That doesn’t stop Quinn from falling head-over-heals for Kellan.
Kellan has lived almost his whole life on the move. Shifters are not exactly welcome neighbors, so to keep the peace they only stay in one place for a short while. He is not expecting anything different when they put down stakes at their new “home.” When he runs into Quinn at the local newsagents–run by Quinn’s aunt–that all changes. The almost instantaneous connection and attraction between the two is obvious. What is less obvious is why Quinn smells so different from anyone else he has ever met. Kellan has to be careful, though, because matings between humans and shifters have been forbidden. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop Kellan from falling head-over-tail for Quinn.
Between the overall sentiment that humans and shifters should not be mixing and a heady mix of hormones and attraction, it is obvious that Quinn and Kellan are bound for a tumble. It is just unclear if they are going to be falling in love, or off a cliff.
Jay Northcote does shifters! And he does them quite well, thank you.
This is not an overly complicated story. In fact it is probably one you’ve mostly read before. But what it has going for it are two very well written MCs, a lovely twist, and plot that knows when to speed up and when to linger. It was a very easy read and while I wasn’t blown out of the water by any one thing, I was entertained from start to finish.
One of my favorite things about this story was probably the twist that happens in regards to a certain character. Not going to spoil it, but I like how it was worked in. It gave the story enough of a unique feel that I was truly interested to see where it was going.
Of the things I can talk about, though, I will say I quite liked how the shifter/human world were intermixed. These are actually my favorite kinds of paranormal stories, and I like seeing how the two cultures interact. And since enough time has passed since a lot of the big upsets in society, it was nice to see two communities which are not “at war” but which also haven’t found a way to coexist together yet. It certainly uses the dynamic to reference the “Us/Them” problem common in our own society–as well as a dash of homophobia and just plain bigotry–but also doesn’t beat you over the head with it either. I’m not sure I completely buy the wrap up of all this tension in the end, but in a “this is a fantasy so why not just roll with it” kind of way, I guess I can live.
Mostly because I loved the interactions between Kellan and Quinn. They really sell the whole star-crossed, “I can’t have you, but I’m damn well going to have you” trope to perfection. And the way things resolved with them left me very satisfied. The story didn’t quite go the way I assumed it would when I first started with it, but I like that about it. What could have been a pretty hum-drum plot was bolstered by these two characters and their quite obvious attraction to each other.
Really, this is just a good story. It may not be revolutionary, plot-wise, but I don’t think it ever intended to be. It is a very solid shifter romance. The characters were very well done, the writing was always entertaining, and I found myself kinda hoping to see more in this world in the future. I think if you are a fan of shifters–especially where there are human/shifter couplings–this is going to right up your alley. I personally am really happy to see that Jay Northcote is branching out into other sub-genres and am excited to see what he can come up with next.