Title : The Choosing
Author : Annabelle Jacobs
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Paranormal
Length : 210 pages (e-book)
Published : October 18, 2013
Rating : ★★★
Jerath is facing the biggest problem of his life. When boys in his shapeshifter village Eladir get their fangs, they must endure a coming-of-age rite called the Choosing, so they can take on their animal form. The rite is performed on the full moon, but the trouble is the Choosing involves having sex with a girl, and Jerath’s only interested in boys. Even if he manages to somehow get through the rite, he doesn’t know if he’ll ever find a mate in his village, where opposite-sex couples are the norm.
Even worse, he may miss the rite altogether after raiders attack his home and take several young men prisoner. Jerath will need the help of warriors if he’s to free the captive shapeshifters, so with his best friend, Serim, he flees south to find aid. Along the way, they meet Meren, a handsome warrior whose attraction to Jerath is instant and very much returned. But with the next full moon approaching and available time for the prisoners to undergo the Choosing running out, Jerath’s love life is far from his only worry.
Jerath is aware he’s not at all like the other boys in his village. He’s not even remotely interested in girls romantically. That will make his life hard when he finally gets his fangs and is ready for the Choosing, when he will be initiated into his shifter status. Of course, he’s late getting his fangs, too. Jerath is assured by his mother and best friends that he will in fact be able to be initiated, and all seems to be going a touch more smoothly, when his village is raided and most of the young men are kidnapped. Jerath and his best friend Serim are able to escape and search for help. Many years ago hunters from the south helped his home village of Eladir in a similar situation. Of course, Jerath’s fangs come in while he and Serim are on the run. Despite his fears and the lack of the normal ceremony, Jerath and Serim are able to fully initiate him into his shifter status. Not long after that they find a band of hunters willing to help. Jerath and the leader of the band of hunters, Meren, are instantly attracted to each other. Jerath isn’t used to such a frank and honest declaration of sexual attraction and intent. It takes him a while to fully warm up to Meren. When he and Meren do finally get together for a night of fun, it rapidly escalates to a trip down the road to mating.
Meren and Jerath both pull back from any potential bond. Jerath is hurt but understands neither of them really want to leave their home village. Shifters rarely leave home and Meren is the son of the village leader and the heir apparent. The men try to ignore each other as they leave the temporary hunting camp and head for Meren’s home village. Their separation only lasts til Jerath is in danger. They agree to see where their relationship is going and arrive at Meren’s village. Things go to crap when Jerath and Serim see Meren talking with the men Jerath saw in Eladir after the other shifters had been kidnapped. He and Serim hide. Meren is first terrified Jerath is gone then upset Jerath didn’t trust him enough to learn the truth about the men in his village. Jerath has to do a lot of sweet talking to get back in Meren’s good graces. Especially as Meren’s father and the men from his village are going to help get back all the kidnapped shifters, some of whom need to go through the Choosing before it’s too late. They’re running out of time. Before the rescue Meren and Jerath decide to become fully mated. They’re better able to fight together if they can sense what the other is feeling. Unfortunately for Jerath, it gives him a front row seat to Meren’s feelings as he receives a potentially fatal injury.
Why was this book in present tense? If it’s meant to create a sense of urgency and immediacy it wasn’t at all necessary. The lion’s share of the story was not action. Jerath chatting with his friends did not need to feel tense. At all. Present tense felt unnecessary and contrived. I also felt much of the conflict between the two main characters could have been solved with thirty seconds of open communications. Yes, I get they were guys. And sometimes guys are just blunt and honest and say what they mean. Guys not talking to each other doesn’t always work and can skirt the edge of stereotypes.
Having said all that I didn’t have any problem reading the book apart from the occasional eye roll. The premise was interesting as was the world building even if they weren’t especially original. It was nice to see a couple that had some misfires, and I also always appreciate of a book with shifters that doesn’t have fated mates. I would recommend this book to anyone who is already a big fan of shifters, but not to someone looking to become a fan of shifters.
Rated 3 stars by Faye