Book Review: Change of Heart by Mary Calmes

Change of Heart (Change of Heart Book 1) 

Author: Mary Calmes

Genre: Gay paranormal romance

Warnings: Werepanthers, sex in partially shifted form

Rating: M

Length: 260 pages (novel)

Synopsis

As a young gay man—and a werepanther—all Jin Rayne yearns for is a normal life. Having fled his past, he wants nothing more than to start over, but Jin’s old life doesn’t want to let him go. When his travels bring him to a new city, he crosses paths with the leader of the local were-tribe. Logan Church is a shock and an enigma, and Jin fears that Logan is both the mate he fears and the love of his life. Jin doesn’t want to go back to the old ways, and mating would irrevocably tie him to them.

But Jin is the mate Logan needs at his side to help him lead his tribe, and he won’t give Jin up so easily. It will take time and trust for Jin to discover the joy in belonging to Logan and how to love without restraint.

Why I love it? 

I love the characters!

Jin, having feared what he was since puberty, was just so deliciously vulnerable. He had always been afraid of what would happen if he were to meet his mate. After his bad experiences coming out as being gay and a reah, him and his lovable dork-of-a-best-friend, Crane, adopted a nomadic lifestyle to live away from werepanther tribes. Being unfortunately born into a tribe run by very intolerant people, they made the decision to keep their distance lest history repeat itself. That worked for the most part, until they moved to Reno, where things started spinning out of Jin’s control.

The way the story started had me immediately hooked. I wanted to know why this girl was roaming around at night, who were the people who were chasing her, and if Jin and Crane would be able to protect her. It turns out that Crane’s “affinity for damsels in distress” lead Jin to his destiny. Saving Delphine precipitated a series of events that landed Jin and Crane right in the middle of werepanther culture.

Meeting the gentle and grateful Andrian; the kooky, half-crazed stalker-of-a-semel, Domin; the no-nonsense and faithful sheseru, Yuri; and the calm voice of reason, Mikhail, was just the sprinkles on the top of a hot shifter sundae. Each character had clearly delineated roles and personalities, which made for a cast of lovable supporting characters.

Logan, who had always been so assured of his place in life since birth, was gentle with Jin. Even though meeting Jin must’ve been the greatest shock of his life (what with him being straight and all), Logan treated Jin with a lot of dignity and respect. Instead of taking the coward’s way out, by just ignoring Jin’s presence, Logan defended his choice to keep Jin as his reah to his father and everybody else who was against their mating. He even went as far as announcing their mating to all of his semel friends. Logan’s excitement over finding his reach was in part caused by his relief of escaping his self-arranged marriage. The idea that he actually found his perfect other half before he could do that, must have made him feel like the gods had heard his prayers.

The plot for this first story in the series was mostly focused on having Jin and Logan meet. I know that there was the whole dynamic with Domin challenging Logan in the pit, but that came as a secondary plot line. Mary Calmes smartly weaved in that plot line to showcase the fragility of Logan and Jin’s relationship;  a brilliant example of how multiple plotlines can come together, to form one holistic story.

Mary Calmes managed to create characters that readers wanted to see in the next story. We wanted to see what would happen next in the relationship between Jin and Logan. There were so many possible future plotlines, that the reader didn’t know what to expect next, but they knew that there had to be something coming next. She built that anticipation into the readers, and she more than delivered on it in the next book in the series.

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