(Shifters and Lovers #1)
DOES A SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE HAVE A PRICE?
Zac McQuade is a former marine living two lives. On the surface he’s a special agent for the FBI. Undercover, he’s an assassin for the Secret Intelligence Service. When Zac returns to his childhood home for his niece’s christening, the last person he expects to see is Brody Maitland, his former college crush. Though Zac’s attraction to Brody has gone unfulfilled, he still thinks of him as the one who got away.
Dr. Brody Maitland is a practicing psychologist with a few secrets of his own. Though he has always admired Zac, he thinks he is terminally straight. Currently, Brody is conducting an off-the-record investigation, in search of a young male patient who’s gone missing. Believing Zac’s cover story, Brody enlists his help to solve the intricate case, plunging them both into a deadly game of intrigue and deception. As the attraction between the two very different men heats up, they are faced with the ultimate test of love and loyalty.
Zac pushed open the door to The Decoy Club and almost fell back from the blast of thumping music and raised voices. He grinned as he snaked his way through the mass of bodies. He’d always enjoyed the high energy of gay clubs, and this one was one of the best, crowded with guys of all ages and from all walks of life.
Heading for the bar, Zac was lucky enough to snag a seat at the far end. Above him on the mezzanine, there were rows of men leaning over the balcony railing, watching the action below. Zac was aware of the speculative glances being cast in his direction. It was liberating and reassuring to see so many like-minded men, knowing every one of them accepted him for who he was.
“Well, hello, good-looking. I haven’t seen you in here before.”
Glancing up at the smiling bartender, Zac automatically clicked into cover mode. “Yeah, I’m visiting friends in the area.” In truth, he’d been in the club several times over the past few years.
The bartender held his gaze. “Well, if you’re looking for company, I get off eleven…”
“Tempting,” Zac said. “But I’m waiting for someone.” Then again, if Brody wasn’t on the scene, this guy was exactly Zac’s type, fair-haired and well-built without being overly muscular.
“Well, if your date doesn’t show, or you change your mind, I’m right here.”
“Good to know,” Zac said, “and I’ll take a beer.”
* * * *
As Brody entered the noisy Decoy Club, he was in a state of high excitement. Though he didn’t expect that Zac and he would have sex tonight, he hoped they would make a start in that direction. It had been hell holding his feelings in check while he worked the case alongside his walking wet dream, and after that kiss…
He stopped dead and backed up when his beast detected a familiar scent, turning his head to see Zac sitting at the dim end of the bar. God, Brody thought, he looks sexy as hell, all dressed up in his cute button-down shirt.
Brody had deliberated over his outfit, not sure if he should wear jeans because Zac might. He was glad he’d changed his mind and worn tailored black trousers to go with his new burgundy Armani shirt. As he drew closer to the bar, his heart began to pick up a beat. He skirted around a group of men in business suits, and ended up a few paces behind Zac, reaching out to tap one of his muscular shoulders, then freezing in place when Zac turned abruptly with a fierce look on his face.
“Uh, hi,” Brody stammered, taking a step backward. “Has something happened?”
Zac blinked and blew out a breath. “Sorry, coming up behind me like that can spook me.”
Brody surmised the reaction was left over from Zac’s marine days, where combatants counted on their heightened senses.
Now, he watched Zac’s features soften into a slow, gorgeous smile. “So, Doctor Maitland, can I buy you a drink?”
Gazing back into those heavily lashed, electric-blue eyes, filled with sexual promise, Brody felt the blood pooling in his groin, stiffening his dick.
4 1/2 Hearts reviewed by Lisa
Reviewed for MM Good Book Reviews
This is the first book in this amazing series and I would suggest you start with it. Although it doesn’t really give you an inclination on what they are going to be like. I have always been drawn to the paranormal world and when you add in a romance with sexy men then I am pretty easy. There are parts of it that are quite unique and I was pleasantly surprised by that. Although to be truthful it does feel like it was told with a fast pace. It doesn’t talk about mates which is quite different from others. However when they hook up it comes off not the way it should. It does not take away from the story itself though.
Zac left home, joined the marines and became a sniper. After the service, he was approached and basically became an assassin. He killed those who could not be touched by the law and needed to be executed. When his twin had her daughter, he came home to an unexpected surprise. He had been a football star in high school and was not what one would could call gay. He had always had a crush on his chemistry partner and helper. Brody however did not know that part of it. Now coming home, Brody has approached him for help. Help to find a missing student and patient.
Brody has quite a secret that he has known but not shared. He is a cougar shape shifter and has many different types of gifts that come with it. When he had been in school, his main goal was to go into pre-med, but he switched it. Now part-time he worked for the FBI as a profiler and needed help in finding his patient. He had heard that Zac was a FBI agent and wondered if he would help.
He had always hidden the fact that he was gay. But man, Zac comes home and he is totally out of the closet. Sparks fly every time these two get together and a killer has Brody in his sights.
I had an absolute blast reading this and look forward to reading the next book. I loved it and would gladly recommend reading it. It gave me almost everything I could want in it. It had my attention from the moment I started reading it and kept it all the way to the end.
A Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.com review (Paul B)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
When Zac McQuade comes home for his niece’s baptism, his college crush Brody Maitland pays him a visit. Hoping for a social call, he is disappointed when he wants his help tracking a missing patient. As the two investigate, things heat up both for them and in the mystery. Will secrets past and present separate them permanently?
Zac McQuade spent several years in the military after school. Upon his release from the military, he is contacted by a government agency to become an elite assassin. As a cover, he informs people that he is in the foreign investigations division of the FBI. After having completed his last assignment, he heads home to attend the christening of his niece and take a much needed breather from work.
Brody Maitland is a psychiatrist at the local university. He is worried when one of his patients disappears with no explanation. Having heard that his former crush is home to visit his family, he contacts Zac in hopes that he will help to unofficially investigate the disappearance of his patient. Zac, knowing that he isn’t trained for this despite his professed credentials, agrees to help Brody out if only to spend some time with him.
As the investigation progresses, they find that the missing student might be victim of a serial killer. While tracking down information, they come to realize that they had feelings for each other while in school. As this bond grows, it serves not only to bring them together but also will be used against them. The killer uses this growing bond to put the protagonists in jeopardy. Will the secret that Brody is keeping which could save them from the killer also destroy the building romance between the two heroes?
This is the first book in the new Shifters and Lovers series by Ali Atwood. There is much that I liked about the book. First, other than the fact the series name, the fact that one of the protagonists is a shifter is not revealed until near the end of the book. To extend this point, our shifter did not grow up knowing about paranormals as he was adopted at an early age. Another difference is that this is not a story of destined mate. It starts out as a story of unrequited love that soon evolves. The author sets up further books in the series as our heroes decide to find out if there are others like him.
I also am interested to see if Zac’s occupation will play in the hunt for more shifters. This is a good start to a new series in my opinion.
Hearts on Fire Reviews
This is far from your typical shifter story. The premise of this book is more a psychological thriller/mystery. The author presents a well thought out storyline that includes a well-developed back story between the two main characters. The antagonist of the story has been targeting gay men and mass murdering over a series of time, without ever being discovered by the local author.
The chemistry between the two characters leads you to believe that they were destined to meet again and have a second chance at fulfilling each other desires and need for each other. The secondary characters were a nice touch to an already
well plotted story line and allowed you to see different dimension of the characters and their interactions with family and friends. The shifter part of this story was integral to the plot and the secret Brody has kept from Zac.
This was the first in a series and I look forward to reading more, as well as future works from this author. My one recommendation would have been for the book to have been longer and allowed the relationship to develop further between the main characters but as it is, I can definitely recommend.
Atwood pulls readers right into the heart of the story. The characters that she develops tug right at your heart, but both in different ways. The suspense of the story had me on pins and needles throughout. The achingly apparent bigotry throughout brings the social commentary to the front, while at the same time the characters rule the show.
Atwood creates natural, real characters who carry the story forward very well. She takes time to develop each character separately, highlighting their differences and similarities in a heady mix. There is a well-developed relationship between the characters. You can really see where it comes from and where it’s heading. The budding relationship combines with the suspense of the story for a heady mix.
Atwood once again had my attention with this fantastic novella. This is a great start to a new series that I can’t wait to delve further into.