Mandy Harbin's debut novella, SURROUNDED BY WOODS, spins a tale of exiled brothers -- mountain lion shifters -- who are powerless to resist the pull of mating with available women. What makes this plot standout from the rest? Done wrong and the results are deadly! It's the black widow effect. If a mating (not just sex, but claiming a mate by bite) is done without a woman's consent, she will shift and attack. Man-lion will instinctively react and the two will fight to the death!
Mikaela's stubborn pride kept her from telling anyone, including her boss, about her broken engagement. She visits her firm's client despite the fact that Thomas, the brothers' father, specifically asks that only women who are taken be allowed on his property. At first, Josh comes off very aggressive and cocky. He wants Mikaela from the get-go, and I can only surmise that the aggression is due to his animal instincts. After a while, the need turns to love and Josh does his best to control his animal side.
Mikaela takes things a lot better than I would! She's strong, but unafraid in a way that may seem naive. I would've had a LOT of questions before jumping into mating with Josh! Mating means becoming a shifter -- and likely leaving life as you know it behind.
This is an erotic romance, so let's talk sex for a moment. No bondage, menage, or kinky sex. But who cares when you have a thorough lover like Josh, and Mikaela gives as good as she gets! The scenes were pretty hot, and I didn't think it was all thrown in there just or the sake of having sex.
The problems I had with the plot were mostly due to the word count. It's a very short story (28,000 words!) I did like the backstory that was given, and it made sense why all the men in the Woods family were timid about single women. Ms. Harbin's idea is a solid one, and I hope that any future stories spun-off from this title will be fully elaborated on. I look forward to keeping up with this author's work.
* Reviewed @ SPARKS FLY | Romance ReviewsThis ARC was provided for review by author. Opinions are all my own!