Note: This was written by Sholio, a friend of mine, and I was one of the betas. The sphinx ship was my suggestion.

A gecko shifter secret agent joins forces with a dragon shifter gambler to fight crime aboard a ship shaped like a giant sphinx, while also playing in an underground, I mean illegal, high-stakes poker match. Cue hijinks and every trope ever.

A charmingly over the top fantasy adventure with a bit of romance, but definitely action with romance rather than the reverse. Great action, great characters, utterly cracktastic, and really, really funny. Part of a series about shapeshifter secret agents, but the books are all standalones and you can easily start here. If you liked Marjorie Liu’s Dirk & Steele series, you will like this.

The heroine, Jen Cho, is an adrenaline junkie caffeine addict gecko shifter secret agent who enjoys rock climbing in her spare time and spends much of the book clambering over unlikely places in both human and gecko forms. Jen is hilarious and her unflappable POV is the best.

The hero, Lucky, unsurprisingly has the power to influence luck, which is one of my favorite mutant powers and is played out in consistently entertaining ways. (He can apply it with a purpose, but unless he’s trying for something vey specific, he doesn’t know how it will work. For instance, “Leave the window open” will make the window get left open. But “help me win this fight” could do just about anything.) He is also a dragon shifter, but the way this works is pretty original and clever, not to mention often quite funny.

I don’t want to ruin the hilarity of their meet-cute, but it is truly hilarious. I’ll put it behind a cut, but if you think you might want to read the book, don’t click.

Read more... )

Most of the book is set aboard a giant floating sphinx on which a secret, illegal, incredibly high-stakes poker game is being played. Despite the total ridiculousness of this, so much thought went into the details of how all of that might actually work that it feels weirdly credible.

The supporting cast all feel like real people with lives and motives of their own, down to ship workers who appear in one scene and have two lines.

During the climax, almost everyone aboard the ship is high as a kite for plot reasons, and while the heroes and villains are having their dramatic final battle, they keep having to dodge random people attempting to pet their hair or tell them all about the pretty pink bubbles.

Fluffy and delightful. Definitely a read-in-one-gulp type of book.

Dragon's Luck (Shifter Agents Book 3) is only 99 cents on Amazon!
Disclaimer: these are by Sholio (formerly Friendshipper), a friend of mine. If you like my Werewolf Marines series, you would probably like these.

This is going to be more about Guard Wolf, as I read that a lot more recently. It’s a sequel but can be read independently, in an urban fantasy series about an agency of shapeshifters that secretly investigates shifter-related crimes. I would call them urban fantasy with romance rather than paranormal romance with action; there is romance, but the emphasis is on action and ensemble. (The main characters of Handcuffed to the Bear spend most of the book naked and handcuffed to each other, but don’t have sex until the end, when they are no longer handcuffed or naked – well, they get naked, but only after putting clothes on.)

In Handcuffed to the Bear, Casey, a civilian lynx shifter, investigates her friend’s disappearance and ends up handcuffed to Jack, a bear shifter agent, naked and hunted through the wilderness in a “Most Dangerous Game” scenario. (Handwavey high-tech cuffs prevent them from getting loose by shapeshifting.) They bond and try to survive; meanwhile, Jack’s agency is trying to find him. There are some spectacular action sequences in this; my favorite involves a tin-roofed shack, a boat, and a seriously pissed off female orca shifter agent. In fact my favorite parts of this book were the shifter agency ensemble sections, which was good because book two has lots more of that.

Guard Wolf, which as I mentioned is a sequel but can be read independently, concerns one of my other favorite characters from the first book, werewolf and giant woobie Avery. He is a disabled veteran with a horrifically dysfunctional upbringing and a number of odd habits, and since werewolves are generally very clannish, he has no idea whether he’s weird because he’s a wolf without a pack or if he’s just massively fucked up. I adore him and he was my favorite thing about the book, which is saying a lot because I also really like the heroine, a koala shifter who is generally well-adjusted but takes meds for clinical depression, and also because it involves my favorite thing, an evil lab doing evil experiments. The portrayal of trauma and mental illness is extremely realistic, and also worked into the plot in clever ways – at one point the heroine has to do some very difficult and dangerous things while going cold turkey off meds, since she got kidnapped without them.

Guard Wolf is also notable for overcoming my aversion to kidfic. A box of abandoned werewolf pups sets off the plot, and plays a very large role in it. I liked the book anyway. This is impressive. It’s also pretty funny at times – the spectacularly useless jumping spider intern was hilarious – and, despite some dark subject matter, has an overall cozy/comforting feel. Avery needs ALL the cuddles, and actually gets them.

Guard Wolf: BBW Paranormal Wolf Shifter Romance (Shifter Agents Book 2) (Only 99 cents for a full-length novel.)

Handcuffed to the Bear: BBW Paranormal Bear Shifter Romance (Shifter Agents Book 1)
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