To say Eureka, Missouri accountant Maria Devane is in an unusual relationship would be an understatement. For the past fifteen years, Maria has lived her life around strange needs of shapeshifter lover Dante Romano, even though she knows he will never be able to fully return her soul binding love. Maria keeps coworkers interest in her love life at bay, alters her dietary intake and maintains a weary awareness of neighbors, all to protect Dante’s secret. It is no easy task because as Dante ages, he remains in animal shape for longer periods of time. When Dante’s sister, Christina drops the bombshell that she’s gone against his wishes and had a baby, Maria’s longing for a child becomes overwhelming enough to consider finding a sperm donor. Believing shapershifters to be an aberration, Dante is incensed at Christina for bringing another one into the world. Dante’s brother William seems more accepting but then, his sanity has always been a matter of conjecture.
When mutilated bodies, apparently the victims of bear or some other animal attack start showing up in nearby parks, Dante fears his brother has finally snapped even as he secretly fears he may be the attacker. Maria fears for Dante but finds her life becoming increasingly complicated because she knew three of the victims. As the attacks become more frequent and closer to home, Maria begins to wonder if the man she loves could be the killer and whether the carefully constructed life she has built is about to come crashing down.
The fascinating, well-developed characters bring this satisfying though slow paced romantic fantasy to life. Shinn puts a different spin on the shapeshifter mythology to craft this sweet tale with enough twists and details to keep it believable and enough mayhem to maintain a credible level of tension throughout. If you are looking for a smoothly told, detailed story where love eventually triumphs, give this a try.