I'm having a hard time knowing exactly what to think about this book, so I'm hoping to refine my thoughts as I review what I loved about it and what makes me hesitant to admit to that love. :P
This is not the first of Cardeno C.'s book's I've read, so I was almost anticipating the jumping back and forth through the timeline. I enjoy the way in which he handles this and uses it to give us little glimpses into the characters so we can understand them in the present better.
I thought this format was especially appropriate here, as it balanced out the urgency of the present with Zev recognizing how little time he's got left before he loses his humanity completely, with the lovely, slowly-paced, almost golden-seeming moments from their childhood and adolescence as they (and we along with them) learn more about who they are and what they mean to each other.
The format also helped move the story along at what felt like the perfect pace. I enjoy very much that at the end of one of this author's books I feel like I've had plenty of time to get to know and to really care about the main characters. Not to mention that he's brilliant at writing soul mates, with all of the life-long, all-encompassing love and devotion that phrase ought to imply.
There were parts that in any other hands (and perhaps if I'd read them at any other time...) might have seemed ridiculous. (The 6'7" Zev pulling the 6'5" Jonah onto his lap to cuddle him in front of a roomfull of visitors just because sitting next to each other no longer felt close enough is an example.) But, the truth is that I was so wrapped up in their story, so invested in their happiness, and believing in their attachment so strongly that my only reaction was an "aw" and a smile rather than the eyeroll I'd anticipated.
The truth is that the fluff-loving, hoplessly-romantic, believing-in-soul-mates part of me just ate this story up! To the point that I didn't want it to be over. Zev and Jonah and their relationship were so beautiful, and so beautifully written, that I found myself wanting to spend more time with them.
This is one I'm sure I'll return to when I find myself in need of a lovely, happy comfort read. 4.5 stars
I've been thinking about this book ever since I finished my review, and comparing it to others in the genre, and I'm just not comfortable leaving it at 4.5 stars. Because while the shifter lore might be familiar, Zev himself sure isn't, and I don't feel like my original rating reflected just how amazing I think he is.
Zev never once descended into the "me alpha, you mate" type of controlling over-protectiveness shown by so many others in the genre. Yes, he was a strong alpha (and Cardeno C. did a lovely job of helping us see just HOW strong), and he loved Jonah more than anything. The way he showed his love by letting Jonah go and live his life in spite of the actual pain it caused both of them was breathtakingly unique to this genre. I think the most spectacular example of just how different Zev is from other Alphas was when he, Lory and Toby went up for Jonah's graduation from medical school. Instead of turning his pain and frustration and hurt outward onto Jonah, he was astoundingly patient and understanding and so, so kind. I've been trying to imagine how other characters (most especially Logan from [b:Change of Heart|7129023|Change of Heart (Change of Heart, #1)|Mary Calmes|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1257956449s/7129023.jpg|7391115] would have reacted in a similar situation, and the more I try to imagine, the more impressed I am with Zev.
Equally impressive, however, is that Zev doesn't feel the need to be overprotective because Jonah isn't the stereotypical omega, damsel-in-distress-in-a-man's-body type of mate. Jonah's big and tough and completely able to take care of himself.
So, the more I think about this, the more I'm convinced I have to give these guys 5 stars because of how amazingly original they are, and how delightful it was to get to read their story.