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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Fox's Mate by Elaina M. Roberts


Alpha Draike Weatherby has enjoyed many years of peace in his districts. He’s made agreements with the various shifter races as well as the Vampire Lord of London to keep crime down and their existence safe from human knowledge. Until now. A loyal gang of nonhuman runaways are systematically losing members. Rat shifters have grown bold, increasing crime in his area and risking their secret. Then there’s Olivia. Naked, bleeding, and fleeing a trio of unsavory characters, she runs straight into his arms…and stirs his most protective instincts.

As he digs deeper, he discovers an interconnecting web with a single common thread: Olivia. To uncover the truth, he must gain the trust of the terrified woman who entices his fox. But she guards a secret that could destroy or save her.



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I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I started this book but it wasn't the richly nuanced story that I found within. On one level it's a typical "find the bad guy and stop him before he does something worse" story, but there are all sorts of smaller stories tied up in it, along with hints that there's a bigger story going on that is only seen in fleeting glimpses and references. Most importantly, all the stories big and small are presented in a way that gets you interested in them, makes you care about the characters and what happens to them, or what has happened in the past to them.




Olivia is a young woman from the U.S. who has experienced nothing but mental and physical abuse in her life since her parents were killed when she was 16, first from her uncle who gained custody of her after their deaths, and later from the man he turned her over to when he tricked her into going to London under the pretense of joining a study abroad program. When she meets Draike she's quite broken in both body and spirit, but still clings to a few shreds of hope that give her the will to try to escape. The longer she remains with Draike, the more she finds her inner strength and learns how it can be to live as a normal person free from fear of immediate reprisals if she says or does anything "wrong." It could be argued that her mental recovery happens a bit too quickly given the level of abuse she's suffered and the length of time she's lived with it, but personally I didn't find it off-putting or too much of an insta-cured situation. I'm not sure why exactly, but I was generally OK with it despite recognizing that she's able to interact with people, men especially, in a fairly normal manner much sooner than she she should have perhaps.

Draike is the local alpha of his particular region of London and is apparently supported and respected by the shifters under his lead. He tends to be rather paternal in his caring for and protectiveness of his shifters, particularly the younger ones. He does his best to lead by example, and to offer sage advice, particularly to the homeless band of youths who live in his area, but he doesn't try to force them to do anything they're outright opposed to doing. He may strongly urge their leader to take him up on offers of a better education and help in getting a paying job to support his charges, but he never tries to force the lad to do so, respecting his right to live and lead as he sees fit. He adopts many of the same tactics with Olivia, always giving her the freedom to choose and never forcing his attentions on her, however much the mating urges of his inner fox try to insist on it.

The story draws you in from the beginning, holding your interest easily as it keeps you turning the pages to learn more about the characters and find out what's going to happen next. The basic plot at first seems standard enough, but there are enough unique quirks to things built in here that it's not really easy to try to predict where the story is going to go exactly or whether a particular encounter is going to just be a close call or will develop into something more serious. The characters are what really keep things interesting though as we learn more and more about them and their individual histories and personalities. Many of the questions we might have about them get answered, but enough remain to keep you wanting to know more. It is their quirks and their reactions to things that aren't always what you'd expect that help to keep the story engaging and unpredictable.

Overall this is a story that I could definitely recommend to anyone who likes paranormal romance, particular those that like shifters and/or like their romance to be spiced up with elements of suspense. There are hints at the end indicating that there may well be a sequel to this at some point, and I for one would be quite interested in learning more about these characters and what else is going on in their world that they're only just becoming aware of. 4 solid stars to this book. I'll definitely be reading more from this author in the future.

Note: I received a free copy of this book through the R2R program of the PaC Romance Group on Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.


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