Mary Reviews: Behind the Eight Ball by M.A. Church (Fur, Fangs, and Felines Book 2)

Blurb:
A cool morning, a yard full of birds, and a kitty on a mission. What more could a werecat want? Beta Heller Wirth has it all, except a mate—a shifter mate, that is. The last thing he wants is one of those dangerous humans who kill without remorse. Heller knows about that firsthand. So what does the goddess Bast do? She gives Heller exactly what he does not want—a human: business owner Lawson Dupre.

Lawson hasn’t a clue what just happened in his car detail shop. One minute a cute client is about to pass out, then he perks up and starts flirting. Next thing, he runs out the door like the hounds of hell are after him. Learning that Heller is a werecat doesn’t freak out Lawson. He happens to be one of those rare humans who knows paranormals exists. He even lives with one. Watch the fur fly as Heller and Lawson battle hurt feelings, misguided beliefs, and a power shift in Heller’s clowder.

Review:
Well I have to say I liked this story a lot. I went into reading it knowing full well that it was #2 in a series and I had not read #1, but I decided to trust the author, and MA Church had said that it could be read as a standalone. Yes I do understand that I was putting a great amount of trust into an author’s hands, and I have been burned before, but I am happy to say NOT this time…

That’s not to say that I won’t be going back and reading the first one, but is it necessary to my enjoyment of this particular book? Well that’s a big NO. Sure there is back-story that I am interested to know and read about, but the writing was clear and smooth enough, that I was never lost, or in the dark about what had happened. I also did not find any repetitive rehashing of the previous story that you can sometimes get lost and bored in.

Lawson and Heller’s story was a nice mixture of humour and angst, with a bit of suspense thrown in. We have family members who are badass and interfering, and friends who are well meaning but close enough that the karmic ramifications of Heller’s relationship with a human are fodder for good natured teasing and more than a bit of told-you-so.

Heller’s emotional journey is probably the biggest focus of this story and it was well written and thought out, and I loved it. Finding out the reason behind the bravado and posturing, watching him come into his own, was a lovely read. Heller has not only a conscience, but the ability to grow and learn from his mistakes, and his tale, and how he gets there is well written and completely believable within the context and parameters of the world and story. It was not rushed and in all honesty had probably started in book 1 (but took nothing from this book and his journey).

The relationship between these two, despite being a fated mate scenario is on a relatively slow burn. We learn a lot about Lawson through this. Yes, there’s the insta-attraction, and yes, they both know where this is heading, but they also take the time to get to know each other without the sex, so that when it finally happens they are in a much better place than they first were. Having said that, some of their “teasing” moments are quite hot, and I gotta say I wanna ride on a ferris wheel too!!

I liked it. Most especially the way it shows and describes the cat behaviour, the play and the chase. If you like shifter stories and the worlds that authors can create I think you might like it too. It’s not too sweet, and not too angsty but there are elements and world building that are uniquely MA Church’s. Get it, read it, enjoy… I did! (and now to get #1)
Stars:
Four

Excerpt:
Step.

Step.

Stop.

The rustling of dead leaves caught my attention, and I froze with one paw still in the air. Not moving and barely daring to breathe, I waited. My whiskers twitched as a cool October breeze disturbed the scent of decaying leaves and rich soil. The foliage trembled again as something rooted around.

I slowly lowered my paw. The disturbance wasn’t very noticeable except to my predatory gaze. The movement continued. Gradually, bit by bit, I crept forward, making sure my long fur didn’t disturb the surrounding mounds of dying leaves. It was times like these I wished my coat were short like Dolf’s. One thing was for sure—whatever was below those leaves was going to be mine shortly. All I needed was to cover a little more distance and I’d be close enough.

Step.

Step.

Crouch.

Heart thumping, I watched as the movement continued. My muscles tightened and my bottom started wiggling. Unable to wait, I sprang forward, claws extended. Leaves flew into the air as I landed on my target. Bugs scattered. Eyes narrowed, I searched for…. There! There was the little bugger. I growled at the big black beetle and trapped it with my paw.

Seconds passed. The bug wiggled under my paw, tickling me. Hunched down, I carefully lifted my paw and peeked. Dammit, can’t see. Unable to get a good look, I lifted my paw a little higher… and there it went, scuttling across the ground. Gleefully I slammed a paw down, trying to trap it. Slap. Slap. Slap. Arrgh! What’s the deal? I keep missing.

Looked like I’d found myself in a game of whack-a-mole, except with a beetle. And off we went. The bug scurried away with me hot on its trail. Every time I thought I had a paw on it, I ended up missing. Stupid critter was fast. I bounded along behind as it raced across the ground. Then it suddenly cut back and ran straight under me.

Surprised, I leaped in the air, all four paws coming off the ground. Whoa! Zigged when I should have zagged. I landed and nonchalantly licked a paw. Hope no one saw that. I had to give the bug credit. That was a smart move. The shrill cry of a mockingbird caught my attention. I lifted my head, searching for the little tattletale.

Up in a tree it sat, its warning cries echoing around the yard. I eyed the tree. Hmm, I could climb it, but the stupid bird will probably just take off. Still, might be fun. Maybe after I finished playing with the bug… and damn. The bug.

My attention returned to where it had been, my tail slashing. Great. Lost it. Stupid bird. I sat up and threw a glare over my shoulder at the bird. Standing, I turned my back to the little menace, tail held high. That’s what I think of you, buddy. I prowled around for a while, sniffing, enjoying the coolness of the morning.

In the early morning sunlight, the dew on the grass sparkled like diamonds. Maybe it was pretty, but the stuff was also cold and wet against my paws. I was glad for my fur. As I wandered back toward the house, my stomach growled. I was hungry and… I sniffed. Oh, was that a blue jay I smelled? Oh, oh, a blue jay. Yum.

The human side of me groaned, but the kitty part wanted to jump with joy. The noisy little shits were actually quite intelligent. Catching one was always a feat. Quick as I could, I hid in the bright fall foliage by the back porch. I stayed very, very still so the stupid bird three feet from me didn’t fly off in a panic.

I licked my lips, my whiskers twitching as I watched the little rascal across from me raise its head. Shit, shit, shit. What caught its attention? Come on already. It’s all fine, nothing to worry about here. No cat hanging around. Just go back to pecking around on the ground. Everything’s good. See? I’m not moving, not even breathing.

Crouched low, I waited while my breakfast relaxed and returned to looking for acorns. Other birds came and went, but I refused to get distracted. I knew the one I wanted. Inch by agonizing inch, I crept closer to my prey. My mouth watered and my heart thumped.

The chatter of the birds around me was easy and relaxed, no distress calls sounding. That’s right. Just keep on eating. Soon I’m going to be eating you. My body tensed, back legs ready to spring me into action….

And the phone in the house rang.

About M.A.:
M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!

When not writing, she’s exploring the latest M/M novel to hit the market, watching her beloved Steelers, or sitting glued to HGTV. That’s if she’s not on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two children.

She was a finalist in the Rainbow awards for 2013 and is a member of Romance Writers of America, Rainbow Romance Writers, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Author Contact:
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/ma.church3
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/MA-Church/173797619379487
Twitter: https://twitter.com/nomoretears00
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/nomoretears00/
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007A8JA4C
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5141393.M_A_Church

Where To Buy:
Dreamspinner Press eBook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7022
Dreamspinner Press Paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7023
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-behindtheeightball-1904995-145.html

 

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