I went into this with guarded expectations. Sometimes short stories are written like they are part of longer stories and come off as incomplete. And since this is part of a series I was worried it might be all set up and not enough anything else. After all, it’s barely 50 pages., and the first in some series are the size of full novels. It’s one of my biggest peeves, intentionally writing the first book like it’s part of a full-sized book to force me to get the next one instead of just simply making a longer or more concise novelette as the first instalment. I’m happy to say this book did not give me those vibes.
Daniel’s character is sweet and endearing. Just a lot to love there. His level of jumpiness for someone with foresight is simply hilarious. If I were Rhys I’d enjoy sneaking up on him too because, even if only by smell, he should be able to sense him coming. His love for all things art and history is also the perfect setting for this book. The problem I had with him was that his genuine innocence about things especially considering his mom makes sense. Her little snippet, since this is written in first person, was supposed to make her seem overbearing and pushy but knowing Daniel, it was on target. Even after she said these things to him he was still completely aloof about it. He’s at the end of his degree and almost a full-fledged teacher/historian of his own. He shouldn’t have to be screamed at about corruption or shocked by another reveal at the end of the book. He was just too naive considering he was into history. Espionage is a thing and it’s not new.
Rhys was written well also. His character made sense. Followed the arc I expected so I wasn’t surprised and even though he was aggressive and forward with his approach, it never felt like he was stepping over Daniels will and forcing him to do things. There was a good playful balance which saved me from being triggered and not liking him for personal space violations like a lot of these guys do in shifter romance. I’m also not a fan of that mostly because forward can be sexy without stepping over the other person’s free will.
The plot flowed nice. The tension between the main characters was good. There wasn’t any unnecessary angst, which I will never understand in insta-love anyway. It’s insta-love why is angst even necessary? Just get on with it. Glad none of that was here. There was a perfect balance between the adult scenes and the actual plot. There isn’t a lot of page time so setting up the scene for the ending had to be part of the flow alongside the romance, integrated is a better word. This book did that without weighing it down with all the extra info that you need to forgo if the intention is not to write a longer story. And seeing as the scenes were simultaneously information and clue drops while also doing as much character building and romance as possible the author handled this integration well.
My only real problem as already stated was I couldn’t wholly get on board with Daniel’s naivety. And his reaction at the end where he’s suddenly angry enough for a physical interaction after being an innocent to himself college student the whole book didn’t fit. He read as an ask questions first kind of character and his whole ‘they are stealing items children and people can enjoy’ attitude just disappeared for the sake of tension and it didn’t fit. That, and the whole naive thing, but I have to side with Rhys on this one. There is no way, even after what he went through, that he could still not know that there are massive grey lines in life. Especially in his particular line of business, everyone has their hands in everything.
That being said this was a fun, quick read that, beyond the one thing mentioned, didn’t trigger any negative responses out of me. It made me laugh, had interesting characters and fun, steamy scenes. Most importantly it didn’t try to be more than the page time would allow and managed that well. I’m definitely going to read the next book in this series. I will add though, based on the way Daniel is written at the end of this book, if he doesn’t grow beyond the way he thinks in this part it’s definitely going to affect my opinion of the series much more than it did in this one where it’s pretty much negligible.