This book marks the premiere of the new Tor Romance line. It’s always best to have a wonderful premiere, but this book did not fulfill that expectation for me. The descriptions of some of the other books in this line indicate that perhaps any of them might have been a better choice.
Magdalene (Maggie) O’Shea discovered she was a shapeshifter when she was very young. Her mother never wanted to believe in Maggie’s abilities, and therefore Maggie received no training regarding her special gifts. She was reckless and selfish, and when a boy she dated killed himself because she broke up with him, she was finally approached by another shapeshifter, Marcus Bocelli. Marcus is part of a mysterious Foundation, and Maggie must join the other shapeshifters in helping to keep the balance of good and evil in the world. Naturally, Maggie is not excited about this, but under Marcus’ tutelage she develops her gifts, becomes his lover, and falls in love with him. Marcus is a free spirit, and tells Maggie they are the same; neither will have steady love or marriage, as it is not in their nature. Maggie’s future is to prepare certain men who have given up on love to reopen their hearts. For fourteen years, that is what Maggie does. She teaches these men to love, becomes their lover, and then gently prepares them for the great love of their lives. All of this to atone for the boy she carelessly trod upon.
So, is sexy, enigmatic Marcus the hero of this book? No, unfortunately. Maggie keeps an internal monologue on her love for Marcus, and her rejection from Marcus, and moves on to focus on her next assignment, Julian McDonald. Julian is very important to the Foundation and this makes Maggie’s assignment doubly important. In the fourteen years she has worked for the Foundation, the only other member she has ever met is Marcus.
Julian is charming, rich and very jaded. Years ago he lost his wife and son in an accident and has had a series of meaningless affairs ever since. No one touches his heart. In fact, the only thing he kept of his son’s was his dog, Max. Everything else from that time has been given away.
Maggie is very good at her work, and in no time flat, she has Julian intrigued, and he wants to see more of her. Part of her charm is her philosophy toward life, aptly reflected in her store, Soul Provisions, which gently and unobtrusively gives people what they need to feed their soul – whether it’s music, jewelry, self help books, coffee, food, you name it. It’s a small Mecca on Chestnut Street in the heart of downtown Philadelphia and it deeply reflects Maggie’s personality.
But while there is nothing really wrong with Julian and Maggie, there were no sparks between them. Zilch, zip, nada. They were a lackluster, even boring, couple. This author sets up a charismatic enigma in Marcus and then has the reader settle for Julian instead.
Maggie has definitely been kept in the dark over many issues involving the Foundation, but even the secrets that were revealed weren’t that interesting. What’s worse, her shapeshifting is merely paranthetical to the plot. “Oh, so you’re a shapeshifter – isn’t that nice?” – but nothing is truly explained. There was one extremely confusing scene where Maggie “moves” into Max the dog, but it’s never explained how she actually “leaves” him. I always thought shape shifting involved shifting forms, what would happen to poor Max when Maggie left? How could these shape shifters move their spirit around? These type of questions were never answered.
Julian turns into an incredible jerk regarding Maggie’s gifts at the very end of the book. He reminded me of Darrin from Bewitched, not one of my favorite leading men. How can you accept the person you love if you deny their gifts?
I would definitely like to read more of the romances in this line, but this one was almost painful to read. Fans of paranormal romances, please save your money for one of the next books in this line instead.