Review: Control by Cardeno C. and Mary Calmes

I recently read my first Cardeno C. book and kind of fell in love. (Review was posted earlier today) So I immediately started looking for this author’s backlist. Then I realized that he/she had a another new release and it was with Mary Calmes. So of course this was an auto buy for me. Especially with this blurb:

Vy Aleknos is the leader of a hawk shifter flock. Openly gay since he was a teen, Vy is proud and self-assured on the outside, while secretly worrying he’ll be forced to spend his life alone because two males can’t be mates. When bear shifter Robert Cimino appears in Vy’s small town, Vy realizes his concerns were unfounded — he has a male mate, and a sexy, dominant one to boot.

Robert is a bear shifter who refuses to shift. Immediately attracted to Vy, he deviates from his normal pattern and seeks more than a one off with the powerful, bristly hawk. But Robert’s affections are rooted in his human form, and when Vy discovers Robert doesn’t recognize him as his mate, he pulls away. If Robert wants to stay with Vy, he must convince a man deeply ruled by his animal instincts to give their relationship as humans a chance.

Control by Cardeno C. and Mary CalmesSo I one-clicked and settled down to read.

My first impression wasn’t necessarily a great one, because Vy doesn’t come across as the most likable character. When the story opens Vy senses his mate near, which scares him a bit, because he’s gay and has always feared that his mate would be a woman. The good news is that his mate is a man, but the bad news is that his mate is a completely different type of shifter.  A grizzly bear to be exact. Now how does the leader of a hawk  kettle reinforce his dominance with a mate who is clearly bigger and stronger than he is? By telling him he is the kuar of his kettle over and over of course!

The beginning of this shifter romance didn’t gel for me. I didn’t really connect with the leads and although I did feel like they had sexual chemistry, Vy’s personality threw me off. He is so cranky and rude. He actually comes across as childish and not as any kind of leader. I sort of  felt sorry for Robert, being stuck with such a self-centered control freak. He’s not even really that nice to his kettle, other than his best friend and second Lou. He and Robert connect sexually almost as soon as they meet, but it takes a long time and many, many misunderstandings before they actually settle down into any sort of relationship. I liked Robert though. He is gentle and kind and has absolutely no idea why Vy is ready to burn up the sheets with him one minute and then able to ignore him the next. Robert kept me reading during the times Vy got on my nerves.

It’s the second half of this book that saved the day.  I think I’ve stated before that I’m not a huge fan of insta-love and/or the forced mates trope. The best part of this romance is that Robert doesn’t shift into this animal, so he has absolutely no idea that Vy is his mate. He falls in love with Vy all on his own and forces Vy to do the same. As their romance progresses there is tremendous character growth as well and by the end I DID have a soft spot for Vy. There were a few times toward the end that he made me shake my head and wonder what in the hell he was thinking, but he didn’t annoy me like he did at the beginning. I liked that this couple is forced to connect on a level other than pheromones. I often find that my main issue with shifter romances where the mates trope is used is that I don’t really feel like the main couple fall for each other for each other. I want there to be a conscious choice made between lovers to stay together. I want them to want to stay together, not have to stay together. Robert doesn’t feel the mate bond until the very end and by that time he is already very much in love with his “little bird.”

So while parts of this romance were a little rough for me, by the happily ever after I was rooting for this couple. Is this the best either of these authors has to offer? No, I don’t think so. But, it’s still a good paranormal romance that is sure to leave readers satisfied. Final Grade- B-/C+

Favorite Quote:

“Please let me show you what it’s like to be cherished, Vy. I promise you won’t regret it.”

Rating: B-/C+
Control by Cardeno C. and Mary Calmes
April 18th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
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