Secret Chemistry is the first book in a new gay wolf shifter series by Chris T. Kat. This first story recounts the romance of young wolf shifter Tim Evans and Jayden Cox, a hybrid wolf-fox shifter. These two young men first meet as children in the aftermath of a wolf pack meeting that ends in a tragedy that will separate them for 18 years. On the night they meet, Tim is 13 and Jay is three. In addition to the 10-year gulf between their ages, Tim and Jay also face opposition in the form of ethnic prejudice from the pure breed wolves in Tim’s pack.
The bulk of Secret Chemistry deals with Tim discovering that Jay is his mate and his attempts to ensure his safety. Kat handles this part of the book with skill. The characters are strong and colorful. Tim’s younger brother, Robin is a charming delight. He lends the novel much of its humor and lightness. On the other hand, Tim’s sister, Debra is completely obnoxious. Her behavior made me want to know more about her motivations. Why is she the way she is? Paula, Tim’s mother is also a strong presence in the novel. Her courage in the face of a life-altering physical challenge makes for an interesting read. Indeed, several of the secondary characters provoke a great deal of curiosity with plot lines that maybe pursued in later novels.
As I read Secret Chemistry I got the feeling that I was stepping into the middle of a larger story. This can help with the realism of a novel, since in the real world you don’t know the complete story of every person you meet, or situation you get involved in. Still, I kept getting this feeling that I was only hearing half the story. This feeling increases after the reunion. The plot moves entirely too fast from Tim finding Jay, essentially in his own backyard, to their first sexual encounter. Even understanding the whole “mate recognition thing” in wolf shifter stories, Kat moves the main characters from reunion to passionate sex much too fast. Another weakness in Secret Chemistry is the lack of back-story for Jay. What happens to Jay from age 3 to 21? Where’s his mother? What happened to the rest of Jay’s family? These are just a few of the questions I asked myself as I read Secret Chemistry.
I liked the glimpses of Tim and Jay’s characters that I got in the first part of the novel, but the transition from childhood to adulthood is a little too abrupt. My main issues with this novel are with the plot development. I generally liked the quality of the writing and the characters, but I just kept feeling that I was missing something. I’m giving Secret Chemistry 3 stars because I think it has promise and Robin is a very entertaining character. I hope the second book in the series tells more of Tim and Jay’s back-story. It’s kind of hard to empathize with characters when you’re not sure about their motivations.