Tag Team Review: The Night Owl and the Insomniac (Shifter U #3) by j. leigh bailey

Long nights lead to intrigue… and infatuation.

Chronically ill with a mysterious condition, Yusuf “Joey” Franke escapes his smothering family and doctors by moving halfway across the country to enroll in Cody College. Not long after arriving on campus, some of his symptoms disappear, only to be replaced by debilitating insomnia. Joey spends his nights wandering the halls of his dormitory and hanging out with gregarious and affable Owen, who works the night shift.

When he suddenly shifts from a sick college kid to a massive Asiatic lion, Joey discovers another side to Cody College—it’s a haven for shifters like himself… and like Owen, a part-time great horned owl. And being a shifter is hereditary, which means his parents have some explaining to do.

When Joey and Owen investigate, they discover more than they bargained for—a family deception, a dangerous enemy with international connections, and a love that might be too new to survive the backlash.

4.75 average

Sara - 5 Hearts

I want to spend at least a semester at Cody College just to prowl around the campus grounds and see if I can see piles of discarded clothes or spot any of the shifters that attend in their shift. I find this community absolutely amazing and endearing that I can’t get enough. I thought I fell in love with Donnie and William in Stalking Buffalo Bill and then I thought I found more love in Simon and Ford in Chasing Thunderbird. But I didn’t know what love was until I met Yusuf and Owen. Goodness, this was such a journey and I loved every bit of it.

What always gets me about shifter stores is how varied they can be while still holding true to the shifter lore. Here, we have a young man who has believed for the last 15 years of his life that he has had some bizarre autoimmune disease being tested and tortured through modern medicine to find out what’s wrong to only be left disillusioned and sickly. But when Yusuf leaves the comfortable--and controlling--hold of his parents in Chicago to attend Cody College in Wyoming, he gets a new lesson that wasn’t on any course syllabus.

The meet cute with Yusuf and Owen was so freaking adorable. I love that Yusuf knew exactly how many steps would take him through Matthison Hall and how we get their first meeting with Owen overwatering a plant. It’s such a simple meeting and yet everything from that moment on is anything but simple for these two.

Yusuf aka Joey, but I prefer Yusuf just like Owen does, was a new sort of shifter for me because he has no idea that he is a shifter and that the majority of folks on campus are also shifters, or at least aware that they exist. All Yusuf knows is that he’s always been sick and that he can’t sleep at night because he gets an itchy feeling under his skin that keeps him up. Now, having read not only this series, but a good amount of shifter stories once I read that, I knew it was his shifter side wanting to get out. I just didn’t know what his shift would be until it happened, and I of course I immediately went to Google to see how amazing Yusuf would look. But at the same time, I hurt for him because OMG how crazy would it be for anyone to suddenly turn from human to animal and not know WTF was going on. It’s a good thing Yusuf was around friends when it happened and that Owen’s dad happens to be a doctor who works at the clinic where they quickly take Yusuf so he won’t hurt himself or anyone else while shifted.

Owen is so fantastic in this book. I love that this series doesn’t pair same species shifters but let's… well, nature take its course. Owen is a great horned owl and Yusuf shifts into Asiatic Lion so on paper these two shouldn’t work in their shift but the truly compliment each other so well.

The journey of discovery and acceptance Yusuf takes is a tough one. First, he has to accept he turns into an animal. Then he has to face the possibility that either he’s been adopted and his parents know nothing about his shifter side. Or that they have been lying to him for years and letting him be a test subject of horrible tests for years to keep their secret. Either way, it’s a path that leads Yusuf to a dangerous discovery and one where he has to make the choice to fully accept his lion or to walk from everything and everyone he has started to care about.
The author has a firm grasp on the Dreamspun Beyond line balancing the complexity of the shifter world with the fluff I’ve come to adore from the Dreamspun line. There is enough of both sides to keep you interested in the world building and swooning along with the romance as the couple finds their way to their HEA.

Owen and Yusuf were a pure pleasure to read. Owen is such a strong young man in both forms and he wants nothing than to take care of Yusuf. He knows from the beginning that being an owl isn’t the best shift to help a lion learn control. So the introduction of Buddy the bear gave moments of frustration for Yusuf, but high interest for this reader. Also, David… hmm. There are a couple guys who showed up in this book that I am curious about and honestly would love Buddy to find a mate who could handle the grumpy bear.

But back to Yusuf and Owen because I adored the holy heck out of them. Their romance was of the slow burn variety as Owen took his time with Yusuf who wasn’t only struggling with his new shifter side but his sexuality he hadn’t actually considered before. Being sick was all Yusuf knew so he isn’t sure if he’s gay, bi or just Owen sexual but he does know who his lion wants and who he wants to protect.

The secret with the parents went down really well and all the secrets were in line with a creepy paranormal theme as it should be. The end gave me a ridiculous amount of emotions that landed me with a firm hug to my Nook as I finished.

One quick thing… I am in LOVE with this cover! Wow. Yusuf on the cover with his eyes and light hair and that drawing of an owl right behind him. It does it for me so much!

I’m wrapping this up.

This is another winner in this series and I hope the author has more stories from Shifter U for me.

Ann - 4.5 Hearts

I really do love this series and The Night Owl and the Insomniac is officially my favorite of the three (shhhh - don’t tell the guys from #1 and #2). Yusef and Owen are just ideal characters and I simply liked them so much. Honestly, you could strip out all of the shifter shenanigans and I would still have loved the story just as much.

In the first two stories in the series, one MC in each couple is part of the badass variety of shifter, they are more “in the know” with the shifter council and are alpha-level level protective of their kind. The couples were intriguing and I loved them, but Yusef and Owen are different and I loved them even more.

Yusef and Owen are young men still figuring out their live and Yusef has the extra burden of discovering he’s a shifter. He’s been sickly his whole life, isolated because of his human medical issues. Once he gets to Cody College though he discovers his real deal is that he’s not human and once he learns to shift his health problems are gone. He’s actually completely normal for shifter physiology.

The author does a great job of balancing Yusef’s innocence with his new found independence and strength. It was my favorite part of the story. Owen wants nothing more than to take care of Yusef and make him happy. And while Yusef is tired of getting the mother hen treatment from everyone, he can’t help but be floored by the care and love Owen shows for him. He doesn’t really get it, but he’s smart enough to be flattered and his cluelessness is adorable.

I am making it sound more simplistic than it was. There was plenty of shifter drama and potential familial betrayal to stay within the theme of the series, and it did escalate the closeness between Yusef and Owen and my impatient self was completely fine with that. Their relationship didn’t feel rushed at all though and the fact that Yusef was never portrayed as a victim made me believe in a future HEA for these two.

The beauty of this story was in the pureness in the feelings Owen and Yusef have and I could write odes to the awesomeness that is Owen. It wasn’t until I started reading that I realized how much I’ve missed a relationship story like this and I would have loved to keep reading about these two. Yusef is discovering who he is and Owen is supporting him in every way and while it’s all new to Yusef he’s nothing if not honest in his feelings just like Owen is. It was so refreshing to read a love story like this.

This was the first story in the series where Buddy had more of a presence and I really hope he has a story coming soon. A grumpy bear who does yoga? Yes please! This one was a total treat though. I got my shifter fix along with a charmingly adorable love story. I’m already impatient for the next one.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the lovely review. Just thought I’d toss out there that, yes, Buddy has a story coming. I’m working on it now. :)