Publisher: eXtasy Books
Image courtesy of eXtasy Books
Genre: GLBT, Contemporary, Paranormal, M/M Romance
Length: 97 pages
Wolves of Stone Ridge, Book 30
Cayden Rochette works as a negotiator for the Stone Ridge wolf pack. For decades he has worked behind the scenes with his alpha to secure peace for the pack’s future, which often leads to long stretches away from home. After one such assignment, he discovers a cat shifter staying in his house as his brothers’ guest. One sniff is all it takes to realize the small feline is his mate. Still, the Andean mountain cat is a shy shifter recently rescued from years of torture at the hands of scientists. The cat hasn’t even shifted, yet, even after staying with the wolves for weeks. With a little help from the mate-pull, Cayden earns the cat’s curiosity—if not his trust—enough for him to shift, anyway. That opens up a whole new world of questions. Ajax grew up away from shifters and knows little of their ways. Can Cayden convince the solitary shifter of the benefits of staying with him?
Charlie Richards’ Pint-Sized Protector is the 30th episode in the Wolves of Stone Ridge series. The story focuses on the beginnings of a relationship between Cayden Rochette, a wolf shifter and Ajax, an Andean mountain cat shifter. The backdrop to the romance is the territorial workings of the wolf shifters of Stone Ridge and the neighboring fox shifters. Richards has a good style and a clear voice. I liked the characters, although I did find some of the sex scenes more clinical than passion-filled. Pint-Sized Protector needs a little more smoke n’ smolder and not so much wham, bam, thank you.
This being book 30 of a serial, it’s a good idea to read the earlier books, since some of the relationship byplay between the secondary characters in Pint-Sized Protector is puzzling. Several times, it felt like the characters had knowledge of which I was unaware.
Cayden and Ajax are a different kind of couple, since one is a wolf and the other a mountain cat. Cayden is older, while Ajax may be wilder due to his upbringing. The mate bond, a plot device in many shifter romances, is what brings them together. So the relationship seems awkward and rushed at times.
The main focus of Pint-Sized Protector is Cayden’s efforts to gain Ajax’s trust in order to convince him to shift into his human form. Ajax is so frightened and traumatized by his former captivity that he refuses to shift. Cayden and Ajax share a house with Cayden’s brothers Teague and Cecil, both wolf shifters. Other members of the wolf pack come and go from their house in the woods. Richards imparts a sense of community and family among the pack members. Alpha Declan and Lark make an appearance, as well as Carson and Jared.
Pint-Sized Protector clearly is not the final chapter in the Wolves of Stone Ridge series, since several story threads are left hanging. For example, who’s the real enemy of the pack? What was the real motive behind Beta Arden’s actions? At the end of the novel I didn’t feel I really knew what was going to happen. Some of that feeling is attributable to coming into the series on the latest episode, but some things just need more explanation.
I’m giving Pint-Sized Protector 3 stars. It’s a good read, but needs more plot development. I liked Cayden and Ajax and would love to see more interplay between those two characters outside of the bedroom. In several instances I saw hints of what a fully developed relationship could be between Cayden and Ajax, I’d like to see more. I may try several of the stories in this series to learn if my initial judgement holds.