Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Mia West - Launch the Hunt

Eagle shifter John Tillman can almost taste freedom.
He never expected to raise his kid sister. She’s worth the sacrifices he’s made—education, career, lovers—but the empty nest is calling his name.
To save her college fund, John’s taking every run his plane can handle and doing his best to keep his shifting under the radar.
Then his latest job walks into the bar with a strange gait and velvety Southern drawl.
Army veteran Logan Maddox has given a lot for freedom.
He’s no hero, just a guy trying to adapt to new parameters. If he isn’t fully living the gay identity he’s finally accepted…well, it’s not top priority.
After three tours, two new legs, and one long-overdue divorce, Logan has zeroed in on a single objective: a trip into Alaska’s back country, no distractions.
But fate has its own tactics, and the only pilot available to guide him is a tall, surly drink of water who's gonna challenge every good intention Logan’s got.

Comment: Since I tend to like stories featuring shape shifters, it was probably for this reason I added this book to my TBR. Sadly, for me, it ended up not being as special as I wanted.

In this novella, we meet John Tillman, an eagle shifter, as he is about to start a new job as a tour guide in a hunting trip with a father and son. He also takes his younger sister Cora because he has raised and can't leave her anywhere else. He wasn't counting on being so attracted to Logan Maddox, his client, but the more they talk the more they feel they are in sync.
Logan has a past that is complicated, but now he wants to improve his relationship with his son and he feels this trip might be ideal, nature and some seclusion in Alaska have to work as a way for them to bond. Logan has also only recently accepted he is gay and feels he's ready to act on this part of does seem as if their tour guide might be someone he could be comfortable with in order to accomplish that but will the secrets between them be a strong enough detriment?

I've gotten this novella's edition at a time I confess I can't remember anymore, but I've noticed that there is a much more recent and expanded edition. I can't say how much better or improved the new edition is in relation to the content of the novella I've read, but assuming that this was, indeed done, I will confess that I don't feel interested enough to verify.

Sadly, the story and characters did nothing to convince me I would want to invest more of my time in this world. I can understand why it appeals to some readers and there were one or two elements I liked, but the overall feel is one of things not developed properly, of inconsistencies and, due to the novella size, a lack of depth to most of the things included. I'm saying this after having read novellas by other authors where a lot was achieved, even in those novellas (conveniently) not part of a series.

A novella is always a challenge to do well, of course, obviously for the page limit. I think in part that might have the biggest negative aspect here for me, not enough pages to develop a plot which isn't that bad to begin with... two guys from different backgrounds, with specific pasts that make them special in their own ways (John raised his teenager sister, putting a lot of life on hold and Logan was in the military, having suffered an accident which left him with amputated legs) and now a sudden possibility of being with one another, with possibly trust and companionship to look for as well.

The idea is indeed interesting but the execution, not so much. First, why adding the teenagers? Cora, John's sister and Will, Logan's son, provided secondary issues which, I suppose were there just to delay certain things but since the story has no real development, I wonder why it mattered if the kids where there or not. In fact, it was extremely annoying to see the interactions between them all and the kids one or two night after meeting each other decide to play a prank on the guys and to be honest, I found it to be all except funny.

Then, something happens and John feels "forced" to reveal he is a shifter to Logan. I mean! Why, there was no real need for this to have happened, it wasn't certainly natural or necessary for the weak plot and it made me think the author might have thought about a few specific scenes and just decided to use them, without being certain the connections and sequences between them made sense. At least, they didn't make sense to me.

I guess I could have overlooked all this if the romance had been a good one. But also in this aspect I was disappointed because both Logan and John's personalities were described in very superficial ways. The lack of pages also made for the quickness of their connection to feel forced and without chemistry. I would have liked to know way more about the shifters and this world where they exist (apparently just some genetic thing), and I would like to have a better notion on the dynamics between Logan and his son, or how Logan has lived with his being gay so hidden.

I can imagine these things might have had better development or that there are more scenes between everyone before truths come but but... oh well. Oh and there is one extra detail which sounded really.... I guess "unique" is a kind word, regarding how shifters have to be careful and not contaminate others so they don't become shifters as well. It's... well, the way this was presented sounded very silly.

Overall, interesting details, promising ideas but for me terrible execution... I don't feel curious enough to read more in this series.
Grade: 3/10

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