Stone McKie has come back to the Black Hills, the only place he’s ever felt at home. He never expected to find a mate waiting, or that the creative omega would be terrified of him.
Josh was raised believing that he wasn’t worth anything other than being a whipping boy for more dominant wolves. The thought of being the mate to a big, burly tattoo artist is too terrifying to contemplate, but he can’t seem to keep his distance.
When a threat from Josh’s past catches up to him, he has to turn to the one man who scares him for protection. Can Josh get past his fears and accept the love he desperately craves? Will Stone have to leave the one place he’s ever felt at home, to follow his mate?
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Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Heat Level: 5
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Coming Home, Fated Mates / Soul Mates, Hurt / Comfort
Word Count: 30,940
Setting: Small Town
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Josh had never been a strong wolf. If he’d been human he would have been one of those pale kids in and out of the hospital, never more than a few inches away from an inhaler. Instead he’d born into a species that valued strength and dominance. His mother ran from these hills because she’d said Josh’s father had changed into a twisted evil man devoted to no one but his Alpha. Making the same mistake as thousands of woman, she thought getting pregnant would change her lover. She’d never told him the truth of what happened to make her leave or even told Josh his name because she didn’t want him to be tempted to go look for him. But, I did and look where I am now.
Ironically, she fell into another pack just as dangerous. It wasn't until his mom died in a car accident, Josh really learned what kind of man she'd married and the lengths she’d taken to protect him. Donnovan Talonski was a violent drunk who hated anything he perceived as weakness.READ MORE
After her death, Josh had been treated to the full disgust and abuse from his step-father. While his mother had been afraid to leave, Josh refused to allow himself to be continually beaten. It had been less than a week after his mother’s death when Donnovan had him to a Doctor for what they called deprogramming. As if Josh had chosen to be gay just to spite the narrow minded asshole. Two bouts of psychotherapy, one shock treatment and one brutal beating; Josh left but not without a final fuck you to the old man.
If only I had just left.
But, no. He’d had to do something to fuck over the nasty bastard. A small token of retribution, in the name of his mother, he realized now had been a stupid mistake. If he had to do it all over again, he would have just left and never broken into Donnovan’s safe. Then he would never have needed to come to Los Lobos and wouldn’t be out in the cold night, hiding under a rotting log and praying for his life.
The minutes passed and Josh started to relax. He might have lost Stone and granted himself a bit of a reprieve. Odds were Stone would trash his store in retribution, but he wouldn’t find the money Josh had hidden or the large ring he’d stolen from Donnovan. Those were hidden under a loose floorboard in his bedroom. I can sneak into town, grab my savings and take off. Leave everything he built and created, disappearing once again. This time he would make sure he went somewhere no one knew him and change his name.
A low growl was his only warning before an immense black and grey wolf stuck his muzzle under the log and sniffed.COLLAPSE
..."This story is self-contained, hot, sweet, sexy, and—an added bonus that I’m really coming to love with Kayleigh Malcolm’s books—characters who are finding their way back to places of joy, trust, or love. The character of Josh is someone discovering his strengths after surviving a nightmare, and his life thus far has convinced him he’s pretty much worthless. The allegory isn’t heavy handed, but the “leave behind the family that dismissed you and find a new family that loves you” is such a quintessential queer journey that I connected with him even as I wanted him to shake him until he realized his worth.
Stone, the big burly tattoo artist who meets Josh and realizes they’re meant to be together, makes a misstep or two, but the chemistry is scorching and the journey is fantastic. More, the inclusion of a “take care of someone more vulnerable” (and no, I don’t mean Josh) as a way for Stone and Josh to bond was a great way to bring them closer together. I really appreciated it wasn’t all about Stone saying “Hey, you’re mine,” to the timid younger man."...