“No one else had ever affected Hart like Dayton.”
In a word: Maybe read the thing. So it’s not that I didn’t like this book or anything, but it didn’t really do anything for me. I’m mostly ‘meh’ about it, to be honest. The direction it looked like it was headed in in the beginning made me think that I was gonna hate it, but then it turned itself around and went in a different direction, thankfully, but the story after that still didn’t hold my interest as much as I thought it would. I liked the premise, but the execution was a little lacking, most likely because of the short length. The characters weren’t really fleshed out, the world wasn’t really fleshed out, and the main couple didn’t have much chemistry together. The main relationship didn’t really sit well with me anyway, as I don’t feel it was very believable. Also the way Dayton ended up deciding to be with Hart was just too convenient and probably a bit premature considering the circumstances. It’s a quick read, and it’s entertaining enough to want to read all the way through, but in the end it’s probably not something I’d read twice.
THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS
The Trigger Warning: This book contains mentions of child abandonment, and bloody violence.
The Couple: Dayton Whitmore is a high school history teacher and a human living amongst a werelion pride. Hart Sherman is an entertainment lawyer and a liger shifter who has been exiled from his pride and now lives on his own in Atlanta. Hart is the result of an affair between a tiger mother and a lion father and he lived with his father’s pride, after his mother abandoned him, until he was banished by his father, the alpha, at the age of 18. Dayton and Hart have known each other since they were very young, and Dayton always got the impression that Hart didn’t really like him much, and then they never really spoke again once Hart was banished (which meant that he was then forbidden to see or talk to any member of the pride). It turns out that Dayton was wrong about Hart’s feelings, because when Hart’s sister sends Dayton up to Atlanta to check up on Hart, Dayton learns that he is, in fact, Hart’s mate and that Hart has been basically in love with Dayton since they were teens. Surprise! This all comes out in the first few chapters, and it all happens fairly quickly. The book opens up with Dayton visiting Hart in Atlanta, and this will be the first time they’ve seen each other in about 10 years, give or take, and Hart immediately declaring his long-time love for Dayton and insisting that they mate right away. I didn’t like how this was turning out, because Hart was very insistent on mating with Dayton (not in a non-consensual way, just very forward) regardless of Dayton’s feelings on the matter and that they’d automatically get their happy-ever-after. Luckily things don’t turn out that way; Dayton puts the brakes on everything because, while he’s always been into Hart, he’s always thought that Hart had never really liked him. Add that to the fact that it’s been a decade since they last interacted and now he’s expected to get with Hart just because Hart let slip that he’s been secretly into Dayton this whole time. Dayton is Hart’s mate but, since Dayton is 100% human, that fact doesn’t mean the same things to him as it does to Hart. Nevertheless, Hart’s feelings are genuine so Dayton agrees to be with him as long as they go slow (having sex would complete the mate bond, apparently, which is an automatic commitment for Hart but not for Dayton, so they have to be careful). I liked this solution to the situation, better than what the alternative would’ve been. But the problem with this is that the story doesn’t really show us the two of them actually getting to know each other and falling in love. There’s a decent beginning to that effect, and then it all goes to hell during the climax and then Hart goes into heat and then suddenly Dayton is okay with them being joined for life. Also I did enjoy their dates together, but it was still early days in their relationship and I felt like they moved way too fast from ‘getting to know you’ to ‘lifemates’. If the book were longer and their relationship more fleshed out it wouldn’t look quite like Dayton was just giving in.
The World Building: Minimal. There is very little world building going on here. It’s not a pure fantasy, as far as I can tell it takes place in the real world (Hart lives in Atlanta), but with more mystical creatures than one would expect to find in the real world. Dayton is completely human and is in the know about werecreatures, but he doesn’t understand everything about them. He grew up sort of adopted by a werelion pride, so he’s aware of basic hierarchy and supernatural abilities (shifting, enhanced senses, so on), but there also seems to be a lot of things he doesn’t know and he doesn’t seem to have a way of finding out short of asking a member of the pride to explain it to him. There also doesn’t seem to be any public resources he can use because the general human population doesn’t seem to know that werecreatures even exist? Or something? I don’t think it really comes out and says that werecreatures are supposed to be a secret, but there’s a point where Hart is fully shifted and is fighting another shifter on Dayton’s front lawn (it happens) and Dayton says something along the lines of hoping no one notices (… really?) because he won’t be able to explain any of it. And speaking of full-shifts, that’s never really explained either. Apparently all shifters have the ability to do a full-shift, as in they shift completely into their animal forms. Hart turns into an actual liger, his family members turn into actual lions, and so on. But it’s kind of implied that when they’re shifted they aren’t entirely themselves. Like, Hart refers to his full-shift form as ‘my liger,’ like it’s a separate entity. I dunno, it’s weird. Mates and mating also aren’t really explained. Apparently a mate bond is a thing, and fairly sacred if Hart’s focus on it is anything to go by, but that’s not really explored much. Also heats. Heats are mentioned and not explained and the way it comes up in the story makes it seem like a plot device to get Dayton to give in to Hart’s advances.
The Side Characters: Not very many major ones. Dayton has parents, they aren’t really mentioned and it’s hinted at that they aren’t very good parents. Hart has a lot of cousins who are mentioned as ‘the cousins’ and don’t really have names. Dayton is a high school teacher and a few of his students have cameos, mostly for small talk. Some of Hart’s clients show up, most notably a boy band called Velcro Rose, the members of which are still teenagers and Dayton sort of takes them under his wing to tutor them. Tawny is Hart’s younger sister and Dayton’s best friend. She’s a werelion and it was originally her manipulations that put Dayton and Hart back in each other’s path. I liked her character, she was pretty fun and she was a good friend to Dayton. Also Dayton absolutely called her out on her scheming and she apologized and then they moved on like normal friends. Tawny has a boyfriend named Rick; he was a douche and didn’t have much to do in the story until a sudden plot twist during the climax. Hart and Tawny’s father shows up. His name is Malachi and he is the leader (alpha?) of the werelion pride. He doesn’t really have a big enough presence for me to pin down what I really felt about him. On the one hand he completely exiled Hart from the only family he ever knew the minute he turned 18, but on the other hand he kinda tries to make it up to Hart later (although, that was after he tried to force Dayton to choose between Hart and the pride which, dick move).
The Sex: Meh, mostly. Also not very memorable. There was no knotting, which I know can be a thing when shifters are involved. There isn’t really much for me to say about it. There’s one sex scene and it takes place at the end of the story, when Dayton suddenly (or that’s the impression I got) decided that he was interested in being with Hart for serious. The two of them fell asleep in Hart’s bed after a party and then Hart suddenly went into heat, and then sex happens. It’s a fitting resolution to Dayton and Hart’s relationship for anyone who’s still even invested by that point. It’s not a bad scene by any means, just standard.
The Writing: I don’t really have much to say about the writing. It was good, wasn’t great, but good. The dialogue annoyed me at times, and sometimes the way the characters spoke didn’t really ring true for me, but it wasn’t terrible overall. A lot of the problems I can say I had was that there wasn’t enough world building, what with the shifters being things, and I felt that the romance ended up being rushed by the end. Also the ‘plot twist’ with Rick kinda came out of nowhere and was unnecessary drama. Maybe if the book was longer and everything could’ve been fleshed out more it would’ve been much better. Also Dayton’s sometimes acknowledged/sometimes not shoulder injury tended to pull me out of whatever action was happening.
[Born This Way was published June 19, 2013, by Dreamspinner Press, it’s available only as an ebook]