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Sheriff Lance Beaufort is not going to let trouble into his town, no sir. Tucked away in the California mountains, Mad Creek has secrets to keep, like the fact that half the town consists of ‘quickened’—dogs who have gained the ability to become human. Descended on both sides from Border Collies, Lance is as alert a guardian as they come.
Tim Weston is looking for a safe haven. After learning that his boss patented all of Tim’s work on vegetable hybrids in his own name, Tim quit his old job. A client offers him use of her cabin in Mad Creek, and Tim sees a chance for a new start. But the shy gardener has a way of fumbling and sounding like a liar around strangers, particularly gorgeous alpha men like Sheriff Beaufort.
Lance’s hackles are definitely raised by the lanky young stranger. He’s concerned about marijuana growers moving into Mad Creek, and he’s not satisfied with the boy’s story. Lance decides a bit of undercover work is called for. When Tim hits a beautiful black collie with his car and adopts the dog, its love at first sight for both Tim and Lance’s inner dog. Pretending to be a pet is about to get Sheriff Beaufort in very hot water.
This book was my attempt of getting my romance mojo back (I was in a dry spell and decided to take a one week break from anything romantic). I loved Easton’s works before and I had faith in the story – I mean, DOG shifters, come on, you could already imagine the adorableness!! Well, it turned out to be a good choice, definitely a good book to elevate my mood. It is a unique take on the shifters trope; it is an easy read but with a LOT of heart, and undeniably entertaining.
In “How to Howl at the Moon” instead of humans that can shift into dogs, it is the other way around. Some ordinary dogs “get the spark” which enables them to change form to humans. This happens to dogs that form a very close bond with a specific human after a long period of time. These dogs with the gift are called ‘quickened’. Their descendants are usually born quickened, meaning that they have the ability to shift from birth. It was grounds for interesting reading since the quickened dogs seem to preserve some of their animal traits.
Lance is the Sherriff of Mad Creek, the small town where a lot of quickened reside. As a Border Collie quickened, Lance took his job seriously – and he spent more time being human rather than give in to his dog nature to protect his town. When a young stranger comes to Mad Creek, reeks of marijuana and gives wobbly reasons on why he’s there, Lance gets suspicious. In order to find out what the young man, Tim, is hiding, Lance turns into a dog and throws himself in Tim’s path. Literally. However, Tim quickly falls in love with Chance (Lance’s dog form) and Lance wonders how he could get out of this mess when he realizes that his dog loves Tim as well.
Now, I can’t say that I’m a dog person – I like reading about dogs but I’d sure prefer to be with cats in real life. However, even I was quickly compelled reading the scenes where Tim bonded with Chance. I really loved Tim – he is down on his luck, and it is clear that being with Chance soothes him. I admit that my eyes were teary several times, especially when Tim got heartbroken about things – like when Tim thinks that Chance (who must return to being Lance and go to the Sherriff office) leaves for good.
The first 80% of this book totally won my heart … unfortunately, the last 20% felt like it slipped down a notch. I also had a few issues which made me unable to give this 4-stars just yet.
First, I thought the bond between Tim and Chance was stronger compared to when Lance is in his human form. Somehow the ‘human’ relationship felt more superficial and I couldn’t be 100% convinced about their love.
I was not very fond of the sex scenes as well. I am already not a huge fan of most sex scenes in MM romance, but because of the dog traits, the sex scenes felt weird and NOT hot at all. I guess I like werewolf sex better. Dog sex, at least in this book, had too much licking for my liking.
Last, I had a problem with some of the ‘time jumps’. I thought the part where Tim accepted Lance’s situation of being a quickened was not as smooth as I would like it to be – maybe because prior to that, the scene was emotional, and suddenly it was over. The transition from last chapter to Epilogue also felt rough – and seriously, I wasn’t a big fan of the epilogue as well. It felt like the Epilogue was written just to give a touch of comedy but it was out of place compared to the whole tone of the book. It wasn’t needed.
However, overall, I found this an adorable and mood-lifting read. I fell in love with the secondary characters too. I can’t wait to read the next book about Roman Charsguard, a highly trained German shepherd, who got the spark after forming a bond with a US Army Sergeant. I assume that there is a heartbreaking story behind Roman’s staying at Mad Creek and I want to read about this private man getting his happily-ever-after (HOPEFULLY with this young SWAT officer *I felt sparks there, people!*).