Series name: Fire Ridge Pride, Book 1
Author: Jae Greyn
Genre: MM Paranormal Shifter Romance
Horse trainer is an odd job for a lion, but Lou Barstow prefers his horses to most people, even when they talk back and fuss because he didn’t bring them sugar cubes. After mucking stalls and mending fences, he deals with Pride politics over a beer and a game of pool. He also teaches the mated lionesses how to line dance.
Camp Fowler prefers room service and doesn’t own one pair of jeans or a pair of boots until his father sends him to Dell’s Wood to find Lou Barstow, his Amato- Beloved.
The mating contract was signed seventeen years before, and neither know about the other.
Lou was born to fulfill a promise, and he’s the answer to Camp’s most secret desire- a soft place to fall.
That is, if the pair can find something in common.
“He pushed forward, closing the distance between us. It was the longest, slowest kiss I’d ever had, that left my lips tingling when he lifted his head.”
What I loved:
The premise was awesome. We’ve got two total strangers, both of whom are men, neither of whom are officially into guys, and they’re bound together by a marriage contract that was signed in the months before Lou, our main character, was even born. Everyone thought he would be a girl (the reason why is established in the story). So…there’s great adhesion between our heroes, a dual sexual awakening plotline, an arranged marriage, and it’s set in a supernatural world with a (huge) society of shifters.
There’s an awful lot to like here.
The Fire Ridge Pride is interesting and the down-home country setting most definitely worked for me. I also really liked both main characters, most of the time. Lou was harder for me to bond with, but I think a part of it was that his perspective and context is very different from mine. Camp, however, was a very strong character for me from start to finish and I loved every minute of him. Luckily, we get his perspective for roughly fifty percent of the story. The shifters themselves were interesting (for instance, they’re telepathic, which I thought was fun).
The bad part, however, is that it’s a bit confusing in a couple places. There are a lot of characters for a one-hundred-page novella and the ties between some of them can be a little convoluted at times. There are also a few scenes where the clarity of the writing could have used a bit of additional work. Personally, I got used to it and I won’t hate on an indie book for occasionally having some choppy prose here and there, but if that’s where you draw the line, I’m letting you know now. I’m personally a very forgiving reader when it comes to that sort of thing and I’m glad I kept going, because I really enjoyed the love story between Camp and Lou.
In terms of the main plot arc, I’m going to just come out and say that I wasn’t a fan of who the “bad guy” ultimately ended up being, nor how it was handled. This character probably got exactly what they earned, because when you play dumb games, you win dumb prizes. But still, I felt genuinely conflicted about whether that was really a good thing or bad thing.
It’s much lower in angst than I would have assumed, given the setup. But you know what? That worked really well for me. Plus, these guys are definitely good together. They complement each other very well and they actively work at being together, even when there comes a time when pretty much everyone is trying to let them off the hook.
This story is also much lower in steam than I would have guessed as well. There’s definitely a not-safe-for-work scene in there, but it comes across as much more sweet than raunchy. Again, because the characters are likeable, I was enjoying their fumbling attempts at being sweet and romantic to each other, even though neither of them really knew what they were doing.
Hands-down, the best part of this story is the fact that both of these men start fighting for each other. Neither of them has ever been with a man, but they spend some time together and they realize that they want to honor the marriage contract, after all because they mutually recognize there’s something very real between them. There’s definitely a dual sexual awakening trope happening here, though it’s understated (I personally enjoy some subtleties when it comes to this, so it definitely worked for me).
Overall, it’s a short, fast, sweet read. It does get a bit confusing in places, but I thought the love story worked well. Buy it here on Amazon.