(Links after the review!)
Because I did, I’ve had the opportunity to read “Watcher” which is the first in the Crookshollow Ravens series that Steffanie is spinning from her other Crookshollow series. I sort of wished I had read the other series that inner mingle. But then again, I still win because I will be binge reading those very soon as well. I was taken aback by the intensity in which Steffani creates her characters. Of course knowing that the two main characters were going to have some intense attraction and hardships I was expecting some fire so to speak. What I didn’t expect was the detailed back story to Cole and his shifter life. When I think of shifters of course the first thing that pops in my head is wolves and bears. Steffanie has a fox shifter series as well, so that intrigues me further. Cole is a raven shifter and has been “owned” by a psychopathic scientist that wreaks havoc amongst all members of his estate. In order to keep his tyranny to go on effectively, he marks each one of the shifters with a tattoo/ring of sorts that will cause severe pain if they are do misbehave or try to leave. Therefore, they’re stuck until their freedom is given by their master or they are sold to someone else. I found this both infuriating (the whole slavery thing) and fascinating. The reason I was so intrigued by the various tools that are used to enforce or assist each household. I mean it makes you want to punch Cole’s master in the face some but also find out how the heck this stuff works. That’s the part of my brain that wonders how we can use the devices towards evil! Insert evil maniacal laugh here. Cole has had to live his whole live underneath the madness and never felt he was really free. His father was useless and his mother became very sick at the hands of his master. He has a brother who would rather have just ran away from all the rough things and be the ignorant delinquent he wanted to be. Cole has had to learn to watch out for himself and for the few he cares about. But he can’t let himself go and actually love anyone until he is free. Finally free from the burden of serving a insane man.
Belinda has had enough. Her childhood consisted of so many ups and downs and a family that split apart. As she gets older and her mother remarries, she just kind of coasts along. She wants to do something that is part of her heart and who she is. She loves cooking and baking. With the little nudge from her then boyfriend/fiance, she opens up her bakery. She starts to have success right off the bat. I mean how could she not with how decadent and gorgeous her creations are? She has a sweet attitude that people flock to and it helps make her business a success. Just when she can think about maybe expanding or replacing some older appliances, her fiance takes off. She finds out that not only was he an butthead, but he stole from so many in her community. He worked in finance and helped others. Instead, he helped himself and robbed everyone basically. He went so far as when he disappeared, taking her clothes! In her devastation, Belinda continued on. She’s ended up paying a massive amount of debt things to him and she’s barely making it a go at the bakery. She refuses to depend on anyone or even allow anyone to see how bad things truly are. The assistant she’s hired is useless and she’s at her wits end with everything when she meets Cole in a chance meeting in her shop.
Without giving too much away, their attraction is instant. My heart went out to Belinda because she felt herself unworthy of being wanted by someone as hot as Cole. Holy heck is that man sexy! Steffanie’s attention to detail is so appreciated with that one! Oh wait, what was I saying? Oh yes! Belinda is a beautiful person, inside and out. She doesn’t feel like she’s sophisticated enough for most encounters, and worries her lack of groceries is being seen around her middle. She has lived on the left overs from the bakery for months. On top of that, she just feels pudgy and ugly. She’s not though and again, the details describing her is wonderful. Belinda is so much like a lot of us are. She’s smart, witty when she wants to be, talented, caring, loving, and loyal to a fault. She’s not supermodel gorgeous or athletically thin. In my opinion, she’s just right. So does Cole!
Their encounters with each other turn into this storm of electric lust, fear, tragedy, strength and love. The more they are together, the more they learn about each other and what it’s going to take to truly make Cole be free from the upcoming devastating upheaval of his life. You see, his attraction to Belinda is not the only reason why he is so dead set on being free right at that moment! His master has turned things on him and has put every threat he has used into plan. What now? How the heck do they beat this and open up Belinda’s world to take back her life? Just when they devise a plan and seek help, it’s all blown up….
Steffanie has the uncanny ability to get you sucked into their story and throw all these awesome details you truly get lost in all of it. I have to say she was mighty successful in getting me to yell at my kindle at the end of it! Seriously! I was so mad! Yes, it does end in a cliffhanger! BUT….the next one is coming out in just a few short weeks. Thank heavens! I won’t have to yell at her too much then! :)
I had never read about Raven Shifters before, and I appreciate the dedication Steffanie had in the details. She described their shifting very well and it wasn’t creepy or cringe worthy. I’ve read some where it has made me skip a few paragraphs to avoid the unnecessary graphic description.
I would have to say too, I wasn’t sure what a few things were, like the “Bran” and exactly what Ravens symbolize in many cultures. After I read this, I did some quick searches and found it to be rather interesting! I had of course assumed some knowledge from the literary work of Mr. Poe as well as in various movies, etc. I also remembered there were several things mentioned with the Celtic history as well. Ravens are actually symbolized in so many things! I love learning anything new, so this was a plus.
For the most part, it was very steady for me. The action and steam were just right. However, I would have liked to know a little bit more about Belinda’s history. I’m sure that there will even more coming with the next book. But I’m one of those readers that always needs to know a little more about the characters.
I admit, the description of the scientific “tests” that that crazy dude does got me a little. But that’s a personal trigger, not to be reflected on the author.
I think if you’re looking for a paranormal story full of sexy times, suspense, tension and even some love, this is perfect! I honestly look forward to reading more of Steffanie’s work. I even picked up another of her Crookshollow series. I consider it a big win when I not only read a book that keeps my attention, but I learn something new AND I want to read more from the author. If you can hook me on one book, you have gained a fan forever, Thank you to Steffanie and Hidden Gems for the copy of this book so I could provide you with a honest review. I loved it!
I give it 4 out of 5 stars!
Where do I go to find out more about the author?
Author Website: Steffanie Holmes
Amazon: Steffanie Holmes
My Amazon Review - *PENDING*
My Goodreads Reveiw - HERE