Shifter Sunday Funday: A Walk on the Wild Side Anthology | 2016 Dreamspinner Daily Dose Week 4

The unicorns are reading Dreamspinner Press' 2016 Daily Dose | A Walk on the Wild Side Anthology

5 reviewers: Ann, Fantasy Living, Optimist King's Wench Reflection & SheReadsALot
30 short shifter stories... 30 various authors
6 consecutive's going to be a blast and a half!

Bring on the animal shifters of all types!

Missed a week?  Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3

Week 4 reviews: Tam MacNeil, Katya Harris, Dale Cameron Lowry, Savannah Brooks & Mark Wildyr

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Putting Down Roots by Tam MacNeil

At twenty-nine, Mark is lonely and unhappy. With his teaching degree, he never expected to be scraping by at a dead-end job in a bookstore. So when he’s given the opportunity to do the work he’s always dreamed of, he jumps on it.

But there’s a catch. Mark has just agreed to spend the summer teaching a recalcitrant student at a lonely manor outside the most haunted village in the UK. It doesn’t take Mark long to figure out there’s something strange, really strange, about Thomas, his host and the father of his pupil. They say the village changes people, and it turns out Thomas is living proof. Now Mark has to decide if he should run like hell or stay and become part of the family.

Ann - 3 Hearts

The mood the author set for this was really great. It was just a smidge creepy, just a tad dark, but mostly just that apprehensive feeling you get when you know you are going to get treated to a ghost story. Not that this was a ghost story, but you know the feeling I mean. Mark is a teacher, not employed in his chosen profession, who quits his not-chosen-profession job to take a teaching position over the summer in an allegedly haunted village at the allegedly most haunted house in said village.

The time Mark spent with his student, Bryony, and with her father Thomas, was very sweet, but I did feel like I knew Bryony better than I knew Thomas at the end. Thomas was shrouded in mystery, as was the whole village really, but Mark is a smart dude and he’s figuring out what secrets the town holds. I liked the few conversations that Mark and Thomas had. Thomas had an overall sad and lonely vibe to him but the two of them easily admitted the attraction building between them, giving Thomas a little glimmer of hope. The secret gets revealed and declarations were made. It was definitely a happy ending, I would have liked more page time for Thomas and Mark together though so I could really get a feel for them as a couple. I liked Mark a lot, I liked what I knew of Thomas but his character just wasn’t fleshed out enough for me to get the HEA full force.

Fantasy Living - 3.5 Hearts

Mark has found himself a private, live-in, teaching position with a small town family, teaching Bryony, a fourteen year old who needs Summer English classes. Thomas, Bryony’s father is the employer, and there is something both calming and mysterious about him. As the days of summer pass, Mark finds that his initial apprehension of moving into a hideous Post Victorian era manor, have faded and he dreams of Thomas asking him to stay.

This was weird. I love weird. For a short story, I was intrigued by the mystery surrounding Thomas and Bryony. They are keeping secrets, and we go on this journey of discovery with Mark, as he puts the clues together.

The writing could have been tighter, but it was still good. It suited the contemporary time period. I liked the characters, but they were missing the edge I prefer in displaying personality. Bryony was the brightest of the three, and I think the relationship could have been given a little bit more.

I can’t comment on the plot without giving the mystery away, but I will say I was pleasantly surprised by this story, and it’s unusual concept. I would have prefered more relationship development, but again, short stories always leave me wanting more.

I would definitely recommend this for something wholly different, and interesting.

Optimist King's Wench - 2.75 Hearts

I like the premise of this story and the unusual shifter, but the romance was virtually non-existent. This was my first experience with this author and she has a writing style that’s descriptive and filled with vibrant imagery which I like. However for a short story there was too much interior decorating that I would’ve liked spent either (a) giving a history of the shifters and how they came to be, etc. and/or (b) devoted to the relationship development between the MCs.

This story has a bit of a melancholy tone in that there is no choice in shifting-it happens nightly regardless of whether or not they want it to. And with the intrigue of the Landsdowne estate they are susceptible to trespassers who mean them harm.

Marc is a teacher who’s taken a tutoring job from Thomas to tutor his daughter, Bryony. There are a couple of strange happenings on this reportedly haunted house, but nothing that sends Marc running for the hills. His interactions with Bryony were more frequent than his interactions with Thomas and though I enjoyed them they didn’t advance his relationship with Thomas discernibly. The few interactions they have together held promise and made it clear they were attracted to one another, but weren’t enough to convince me of an HEA. I also felt like Marc’s acceptance was easily won which didn’t seem realistic.

All told, I think this story would’ve been better had it been longer. It needed time to develop before tacking on an HEA. Nevertheless, I would read something longer from her in the future.

Add "Putting Down Roots" on Goodreads!

A Dove's Wing by Katya Harris

When his nephew shoots a dove with a BB gun, veterinarian Abel March promises the remorseful boy that he will take care of the bird and its broken wing. He doesn’t count on the dove changing into a (very naked) man in the middle of the night.

The shapeshifter’s name is Darcy and his clan has just moved into the area, much to the dismay of some of the residents who hold prejudices against their kind.

Sweet and sometimes sassy, Darcy is the first man Abel has felt connected to for a long time. He wants to keep him safe, and when someone threatens him, Abel reacts with unusual ferocity. He’s falling in love with Darcy, but when circumstances separate them, he’s left not knowing if the sentiment is returned.

The answer to that question will change both of their lives forever.

Fantasy Living - 3 Hearts

Darcy is a shapeshifter who is most comfortable in Dove form. Abel is the vet who nurses him back to health after Abel’s nephew shoots Darcy with a BB gun, breaking the bird’s wing.

It’s only after Darcy shifts to human form in the middle of the night that Abel realises what he is.

This was sweet and mostly fluffy. A world where people are aware of shapeshifters, but prejudice means the town is outraged when they find out a shifter clan has moved to nearby lands.

Darcy and Abel’s relationship development is short, and intense. They are instantly attracted to each other and get to the sexy stuff as soon as Darcy’s arm heals (a couple of days).

I would have preferred a little more relationship development. I’m finding it harder and harder to be convinced of the insta-love trope, and am looking for more meaningful development. Sure, people fall in lust all the time, but it’s usually over once the orgasms have dried up. The real relationship starts when people actually engage each other outside of the bedroom, and this didn’t go into that much. There were whispers of it, but not enough to satisfy me.

Sure, it’s a short story, but to be honest, I’m starting to expect a bit more, even from shorts. I think there was an opportunity to really develop the characters, rather than having a more convenient plotline, or lots of sex.

I still enjoyed most of it. I thought this world was interesting, and it can be expanded. I liked the concept of shifters being able to change to different animals, not limited to just one. I think the chemistry could have used a little more work. I wasn’t totally convinced of it here.

Abel was the typical good guy. Accepting, welcoming, and a fierce warrior against bigots. Darcy was a sweetly submissive, gentle person who avoided confrontation, but was fierce in his claim of Abel.

I would have enjoyed more explanation of the way a clan works. Especially with the shifters being able to change to different animals. I liked this preview, and I think if the author wished to, she could definitely turn this into something more.

 Add "A Dove's Wing"on Goodreads!

Love Unmasked by Dale Cameron Lowry

Aaron Loreto can’t lay claim to being anything as sexy as a werewolf or bearman. Once in a blue moon, he turns into a raccoon. With the predatory members of the shifter community looking down at him like he does actually spend his days rummaging through the trash, he prefers to keep his condition private.

When he meets Philip MacRory, Aaron falls head over heels. Philip is hot, sweet, and open-minded about shifters. Given his past experiences, Aaron’s still terrified to come out… until a night of passion with Philip shows that Aaron’s not the only one keeping secrets.

Fantasy Living - 4.5 Hearts

This was the cutest story EVAH!!! OMG so adorable.

Aaron is a raccoon shifter in a world full of predatory shifters, so he keeps it to himself. He meets Philip in a coffee house while working on some edits, and they hit it off immediately. Only he can’t seem to come up with a good way to tell Philip he turns into a raccoon. After a night of passion, Aaron learns that Philip has been keeping secrets too.

This story just gave me big warm fuzzies. It was well rounded for a short, and even for the quick timeline, I was happy for these two fellas. I believe in their connection.

Philip’s secret makes this more perfect, and I have the perfect image for this but I . Can’t. Use. It because that would be a spoiler, and that’s not fair to everyone else. Believe me, you will be tickled when you read it.

I liked the world building. Although brief, it was thorough and well rounded. I would love to know more about this world where shifters and humans co-exist in semi-harmony.

Aaron was a great character. He was stable and confident. He didn’t have any traumatic baggage, making this a great, light read.

Fans of unusual shifters will love this. It is just so freaking cute.

Add "Love Unmasked" on Goodreads!

Wild Fate by Savannah Brooks

Caden Wells is finally on his way to the Alaskan wilderness, fulfilling a dream he’s had since he was a boy. He’s looking forward to solitary hikes and photographing wildlife. Upon arrival, he’s drawn to his guide’s brother, Drake Fisher, a man who resembles beast more than man. Drake’s unexpected interest surprises Caden, but when Drake claims fate has brought them together and that he’s a shapeshifter, Caden’s confusion turns to shock.

With the help of Drake’s brother, Dean, and Dean’s family, Caden realizes there must be some truth to Drake’s story. On his way to question Drake, the knowledge in his heart that something is wrong is confirmed by reports of poachers in the area. Caden sets out to save Drake, along with the life and love that have been waiting for him in Alaska all along.

Fantasy Living - 1 Heart

Bears are growly, and scary. Except in this shifter story. In this story, they’re kinda sappy and apparently have no real instincts.

I really wanted to like this story but there were a few problems.

One: Fated mate stories are tricky. I tend not to enjoy them because of the whole ‘fated’ part. The word choice seems to be a misnomer, and Cade seems to agree.

"But if we’re fated mates, as you call it, would I even have a choice?"
"Yes. You always have a choice. You still have to consciously choose me, just the way I’ve already chosen you."

But a few hours later……

This was supposed to be home for the next few months, but I couldn’t stomach the thought of living here without Drake, not even for a day.

Doesn’t really sound like a choice…. At least the traditional definition of the word choice. But that’s just my interpretation. Also - Caden has been in this town a day so seriously, cut with the melodrama. (There were also some ridiculously timed tears but that’s all I’ll say on that).

Two: Mpreg. Mpreg is a thing for me. I enjoy it… a lot. But if this is a world where shifters have been around forever (it wasn’t explicit, but y’know, the author didn’t really explain that shifters were a result of some sort of science mutation, so I’m just going to assume) then just as evolution created a birth canal and a vagina for birthing, so too would there be a way for a male to give birth if the shifter bond was already messing with physiology to grow the male a uterus and fallopian tubes to conceive…..Caden is on that question straight away…...

"And if what you’re saying is true, how would the baby or cub or would it come out?"
“Oh, that’s easy,” Selena chimed in. "C-section, of course."

Of course......

I don’t buy it at all. Human and/or shifter physiology is not going to accommodate for a medical procedure. That is not how evolution works. So at this point I was lost for good, and skimmed the rest of the story.

Three: Unrealistic action - I did pay a bit more attention once the poacher scene came up. I wanted to see how that played out. But alas, apparently Caden turns into some sort of superhero and the bears are all but useless. Not impressed. At all

Four: Unconvincing sex. Drake was expecting a female mate, and had never been with a man. That was said a few times, but after the highly unconvincing performance where Caden saves the bears, Drake is all over Caden’s cock like…..

And apparently an exceptional cock-sucker his first time because instincts.

So no, I didn’t like this. The whole story was too convenient, too sloppy, and had too many holes (and not the kind I like). Which is disappointing because I was really excited about the Bears!!!

Add "Wild Fate" on Goodreads!

Shifter by Mark Wildyr

When Gray Fox sets out by canoe to visit Elk Horn, his childhood friend and secret crush, mysterious forces strand him on a terrifying hunk of ebony rock known as Black Island. During the dark, cold night, a strangely androgynous being seduces the young virgin. In the midst of his passion, the creature shifts into a comely youth, shocking the naïve young man. He can hardly wait to tell Elk Horn about the experience. But does he dare?

Fantasy Living - 4 Hearts

”Shifters were evil.... But sometimes they were teachers”

Something has drawn Gray Fox into the mist, toward Black Island, on his way to visit his friend Elk. Something mystical, possibly evil, and definitely seductive.

This story deserves some fantasy art. It is rich in description and historical fantasy. I would love a visual panel dedicated to this story.

Gray’s experience on the island has reshaped how he views his sexuality, and he is frightened that his best friend will not accept him if he shares with him. It’s a risk, but Gray soon discovers Elk has his own ideas.

There is definitely a seductive enchantment in the form of the shifter who emerges from the lake, and the mystique of it is compelling.

The writing is strong, with a tight plot, and good coverage. The language leans towards historical, and it is solid.

Sidebar: There is something really erotic about the word stones when describing balls in historical fantasy. It really gets my blood sizzling.

This is not focused around the actual shifter, and you won’t find any furries in this story, but it definitely qualifies for this anthology, and I would say it is one of my favourites. Unusual, unpredictable, and well written. I am impressed in the quality and the content. I will be looking out for this author’s work in future.

Even if you’re not into historical stories, this is worth it. It is not heavy with anything other than fantasy, and there is no clear timeline, event, or geography (at least to my limited knowledge) to get bogged down by. I would recommend this to everyone who enjoys gay erotica.

Add "Shifter" on Goodreads!

All copies provided for an honest review.

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