Abby Craden. That should almost be all I need to write because, honestly, who is going to complain about listening to Abby Craden for over twenty hours? Her narration is top-notch as usual, well-paced with wonderfully fitting and distinctive voices for each character. I do have a lot more to say about this story however, because wow…
Aurora lives a lonely life. The child of two old blood species that aren’t supposed to mix, she’s never been accepted by either. Her father, a tiger shifter, made sure she grew up surrounded by good people but when Aurora was eleven, her father was murdered and her whole world was torn apart. Feeling responsible for his death, she made a vow to get back every part of him his murderers – black market flesh smugglers – took away. Years later, she stumbles upon another cutter’s nest. Despite the painful memories it brings back, she makes her way in and frees the prisoners she finds. One of them is an Avian woman, Evie.
I cannot believe this is a debut novel, it’s so well-written and complex. The world-building is amazing, it feels at once foreign and familiar. While some parts are violent and dark, this story is definitely not depressing. Quite the opposite, it left me feeling warm and happy. This book is equal parts fantasy and romance, both excellent. There’s a perfect balance of tension-filled events and humour. Aurora has a quirky sense of humour once she lets herself show it, and Evie is delightfully sassy.
I’m a very character-driven reader, and I loved the characters in this book. Aurora is a beast shifter and everyone is terrified of her beast(s), even herself at times. She’s very intense and strangely relatable for such an extraordinary creature. She can be socially awkward whereas Evie is as outgoing as can be. They’re a perfect example of opposites attract, with Aurora as an introvert (either by nature or because of the life she’s had to live) and Evie as an extrovert, both kind, smart and sweet.
“Tomorrow is unwritten”, says Evie mid-book, and that’s very much who she is. Carpe diem and deal with things as they happen. It’s a brand new view of life for Aurora who has been bound by her vow since she was eleven. Evie isn’t scared of Aurora’s beast, only of hurting Aurora. She has a very endearing playful and teasing side. To be honest, I might be just a little bit in love with Evie.
This book could probably have been shorter, especially as the story takes place over a relatively brief period of time, but honestly, I was enjoying it so much, I was okay with it lasting. With a book of that length, you won’t be surprised to learn the romance is a slow-burn. Which entails loads of touching, looks that last longer than they should, hints on both parts. Very sweet but also very sexy. Evie and Aurora have fantastic chemistry, and their shapeshifting abilities only enhance it. There’s a certain area on Evie’s body that is particularly sensitive to touch, for example, and don’t get me started on Aurora’s sense of smell!
Books like this one are my favourites, stories you don’t want to see end, with the right mix of action and romance, depth and humour.