Title: Almost Paradise (Pine Hollow Wolves 1)
Author: Caitlin Ricci
Length: 17,327 words (79 pdf pages)
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Genre: m/m contemporary paranormal (shifters)
Travis has done everything to keep his daughter safe. He’s fought a long, hard battle in the courts to gain full custody and has finally found some breathing room. But that security comes at a heavy price.
Staying in a motel and living off his quickly dwindling savings is no way to raise a toddler, so when Liam steps into his life and offers him hundreds of dollars just to watch his dogs for a weekend, it almost seems too good to be true.
But when he finds out there is more to Liam than he ever thought, he has a hard decision to make. Can he and his daughter stay and be safe or will he need to leave?
Perhaps the fact that this is book 1 in a series, explains why I was left with a few questions about the characters. Liam works for a pack alpha, although I’m not exactly sure as what. However one day while out picking up items for the alpha’s sister, he sees a man with a small child looking for work and on a whim invites him for lunch. The man is hesitant, but has no money having spent everything he had winning custody of his daughter. When Liam is suddenly told he has to leave town for business, he convinces Travis to look after his dogs for the weekend. Travis still isn’t sure, but $600 and a place for the weekend sounds good.
It soon becomes clear that the little girl sees more than she should when he starts calling Liam “Puppy”. Once it’s confirmed that she knows what they are and Liam reveals himself, he explains that Travis can’t leave the pack now, but that they will take care of them and send the little girl to a private pack school as she could accidentally reveal their secret. The relationship here really takes a slow back seat in the story. The story takes place over a 3 day or so period with Liam and Travis really spending very little time together during that period. While Travis is gay, he’s never been with a man and has spent all his time fighting his ex for the baby which she didn’t want anyway.
I just didn’t connect to the two men in this one. I’m not sure exactly what my issue was. Liam was a bit overbearing, but probably as a high-ranking pack member would be, and Travis was a good dad and a nice guy, but beyond Liam’s instant attraction I wasn’t sure about Travis. Sure he liked Liam, he even agreed to live with Liam rather than with another pack member and share a bed, but it just didn’t connect for me.
I’m not sure where the series is headed. Travis’s ex came back to kick up a stink and I suppose there is lots to work out with Travis being in his first relationship. I think this may be one of those cases where I just didn’t connect with the author’s voice, but other readers will likely find it meshes well for them, because there was nothing inherently wrong with the story or the writing, it jut didn’t resonate for me. Fans of shifters will likely enjoy the story.