By his nature, panther shifter Kol Jaecar is a loner. But as the head of the Rockshade Paranormal Investigators Department, he also values the members of his small team and considers them his pack, of sorts. When one of his team members, Elora, comes to him with worry about her brother, Kol jumps at the chance to break up the monotony of slow time in the office.
Elijah Long has been in hiding for the past three years. Not only from his abusive ex, but also from the world at large. As an empath, he constantly feels the emotions of everyone around him. His ex used that to the extreme, and now Eli is fearful of any interaction, but with shifters in particular. When he’s kidnapped from his home, his only hope is that his sister with find him.
Kol and Elora do rescue Elijah, but the moment Kol meets Eli, he knows the empath is his mate. But this presents new problems, since Eli is clearly terrified of Kol. As the team embarks on the journey of trying to find and prosecute Eli’s kidnappers and the one behind it all, Kol and Eli have to navigate the attraction between them. This proves tricky as Eli has a lot of trauma to heal before he can even consider giving himself to Kol. Kol is willing to do whatever it takes, give Eli whatever he wants and needs, and take whatever Eli can give.
This is the second book in Grand’s Rockshade PID series, and I’ll admit that I was a tiny bit hesitant to pick it up. While I enjoyed Soul Eater, I found some parts lacking. Thankfully, that wasn’t a problem for me in this book. Part of that, I think, is having the groundwork the first book did. But also this storyline and the interaction between the characters worked better for me on the whole.
I do enjoy Grand’s style and the characters the author creates. Kol and Eli were no exception. I also liked that we got to see the team working together as a more cohesive unit, and that added to my enjoyment of the story more as well. But the MCs really shone in this story. Kol Jaecar, in particular, resonated with me. He’s a loner by virtue of his animal half, but also craves interaction to a degree. He’s been longing for a mate, but since he’s gay, he didn’t think it was possible. Same sex relationship are despised in shifter culture for the most part, and though he’s been looking within other cat shifters for his mate, he’s had no luck. Once Thad and Sandy became mates, he’s hopeful that he might find someone. Of course, the last person he expects is Elora’s brother. And when he realizes the depth of trauma Eli’s experienced, it compounds the problem. I really liked the way Kol handled all of this, and it really showcased who he is as a person. He had to balance his nature with what his mate needs. Grand did an excellent job fleshing Kol out, and showing the reader who he was at his heart.
Eli has been through so much, and it’s really a never ending barrage for him. For me, I found myself drawn to him in a much more sympathetic way. It was easy to see exactly where he’s coming from and what drives him. My heart went out to him as he attempts to navigate his new reality. As a testament to the author, I was right there with him as he dealt with everything being thrown at him.
So in addition to the MCs’ romance, there’s the secondary plotline of Eli’s abusive ex, kidnapping, and who is behind it all. There are twist and turns here I didn’t see coming, and I think the author did a great job of building it up and balancing exposition with revelation. I will, however, say that for me, the pacing was off for parts of the story. For three quarters of the book, I was right there with the MCs as they navigated their new relationship, such as it is, and tried to get to the bottom of who was after Eli. But in the last section, the pace sped up so far that it was incongruous with the rest of the book. It felt rushed at the end, both with the romance and with the mystery plot. With everything they’d both been going through, and everything happening with the bad guys, the resolution came too quickly and with only mild satisfaction.
But despite that, I did enjoy this book. Grand creates wonderful characters that are engaging and I was glad to be along for the ride. I’m hoping the author has more planned for this series, as a few clues were laid out in this one that hint at more for some of the secondary characters. Overall, this one worked better for me than the first, but I definitely think they are better enjoyed read in order.