After playing supporting roles in the previous twelve books of the Love at Stake series, Howard Barr the big burly, bear-paw donut loving shapeshifter becomes one of the primary characters along side television show host Elsa Bjornberg. Standing over six feet tall, Elsa has developed a tough exterior that allows her to fearlessly rip into a home renovation project but inside, is unsure of herself. Howard has been keeping to himself in Alaska but following a call from Angus McKay, the head of security for Romatech, returns to the Adirondack Mountains where he meets Elsa working on her latest show renovation.
When Howard touches Elsa’s birthmark, sparks fly and not in a good way as she fears the berserker has triggered an ancient curse that will result in the death of one of them and quite possibly, their people as well. Although both Howard and Elsa staunchly maintain they do not believe in the curse, a series a coincidences raises serious doubts, especially as Elsa’s aunts arrive on the scene loaded for business. Soon, the quiet Adirondack Mountains sees an influx of assorted paranormal creatures as old enemies and a curse come together.
While not the strongest of the series, this is an enjoyable installment with some twists and new characters including Goddesses. Elsa’s character is frequently frustrating as she exhibits less backbone then could be expected from Howard’s love interest and, despite all the weirdness in her own family, has difficulty coping with his. Watching the wild creatures following Elsa around was great fun and Howard, as ever, is a loveable protagonist. A host of secondary characters figure strongly as does misinformation, omissions and healthy, or rather unhealthy doses of pigheadedness.
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