Review: Softpaw (Smilodon Pride #1) by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus

Connor’s life could have been the dream of any cultured werecat. He is spending his days in Paris’ gay quarter with comfortably little real work, playing the piano, surrounded by art, fine food and good friends. It could have been, if not for a feral vampire preying on the prostitutes of ‘his’ quarter, killing the boys of the Marais one by one. 

When Connor invites a newly arrived hooker to stay on his houseboat, the last thing he expects is Michel to be a member of the Brigade Criminelle - a troubled, hunky rookie cop sent undercover to explore Connor’s connection to the murders, picked mostly because he had been a boy of the Marais himself, not so long ago. 

Hiding their true nature becomes a problem for both when their realize there maybe is more to their inital attraction. But in order to bring down the serial killer and maybe have a chance at making their relationship work out, one of them will have to 
take the first, critical leap...


Tags: Romance - Gay - HFN - Paranormal - Paris - France - Shifter - Vampires - Cops - Death - Prostitution - Undercover - Rough Sex - Explicit Sex

I wanted to love this book. I kept trying and trying to grab on and take the ride but just when I thought I had it...

I didn't have it.

It would take off in these weird tangents that lost me; shook me off like a bad habit. Everything I was interested in got scuttled to the back burner in favor of on overwhelming amount of aesthetic minutiae that left me bored and oftentimes confused. 

Softpaw revolves around a serial killer who is targeting male prostitutes in the Marais arrondissement of Paris. Michel is assigned to the case *seemingly* due to his colorful background which includes prostitution. There is an odd meeting between him, his direct supervisor and some nebulous woman whose role is never clearly defined but we're left with the distinct impression that she has some sort of stake in the investigation and maybe she hand picked Michel for it? 

However, Michel is bar none the shittiest cop ever. The prime suspect is Connor who happens to be a sabertoothed werepanther and local piano player. One would think a cop would get close but not too close to the prime suspect and most certainly stay alert. Nope. Michel seems to get a case of narcolepsy every time they're together then once he wakes up proceeds to berate himself extensively for falling asleep and losing track of Connor.

His shoddy investigative skills, and sexual peccadilloes definitely qualify him as peculiar. He's not boring, I'll give him that. He's a danger junkie who enjoys being humiliated and used and not in the kinky way either. He'll take any sort of attention and he's insecure to the point of finding it necessary to get into a verbal fisticuffs with a 15 yr old. So... not exactly likable.

Connor is slightly better but he too is moody and he's got a vicious streak when he's angry that had me all...

How the authors incorporated Paris making it part of the story was what I enjoyed most. They also did a good job constructing these two imperfect characters and I applaud them for the unusual shifter. 
The overall impression I'm left with is esoteric and unfocused. It's not that I think the narrative is bad it's just clunky. The dialogue never seems natural what with the absence of contractions not to mention the peculiarities. I didn't get the sense of humor. The things that were given precedence were quirky. Everything was just slightly obscure, most especially the bizarre council/government connection that bookends the story.

The sex was eccentric as well. There are probably 3-4 pages of lead up which included buttons being unbuttoned, shoes being taken off and some bossy behavior by one werepanther but the actual sex was glossed over. And it was a marathon with a big guy bottom! I would've liked some focus on that rather than the buttons. Even the hate sex confused me because I didn't understand the level of hate. Then again, I never was convinced of Connor and Michel's connection despite the repetitive internal dialogue each of them have regarding their feels for each other.

One thing I hesitate to even mention mainly because I am super white and 16 different kinds of privileged so my rule of thumb is just to shut my cake hole when it comes to things that may or may not be racist my opinion, if it doesn't push the story forward and serves no purpose with regard to character development then I see no need for things like this and wish they were omitted altogether. It strikes me as unnecessarily inflammatory not to mention divisive.

My late husband always said you negros would be the end of us all, but there's just as many rotten apples among you as there is among normal people.

It probably could've used a final edit to catch the thing with Connor being a neat freak but then suddenly Michel finds black cat hair all over his clothes. I know a neat freak with something like 19 cats and you'd NEVER find a cat hair on you. 

Like I said, I didn't hate it and this has an audience; just check the other reviews. The framework of the story is appealing but the final product left a little to be desired for me.

A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

Find out more on Goodreads.

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