Raised to become Alpha of the Yafenack pack, Samuel Goodwin dedicates his life to studying shifter laws, strengthening his body, and learning from his father. Taking control comes easily to Samuel, but relating to people, including those he’s supposed to lead, is a constant challenge.
When Samuel meets Korban Keller, the son of a neighboring pack’s Alpha, he reacts with emotion instead of intellect for the first time in his life. Resenting the other shifter for putting him off-balance, Samuel first tries to intimidate Korban and then tries to avoid him. What he can’t do is forget Korban’s warm eyes, easy smile, and happy personality.
When a battle between their fathers results in tragedy, Samuel and Korban are thrown together. With his world crashing down around him, Samuel must save his pack and show them he can lead. But first, Korban needs to save Samuel by inspiring him to feel. Two very different men with a tumultuous history must overcome challenges from all sides and see past the rules they’ve been taught to realize they are destined to fit together.(
So what did I think?
Are you excited?
‘Cause I’m excited.
New Cardeno C., people! I love the Mates series and would possibly consider sacrificing a finger just to read more of them. So it’s a forgone conclusion I would enjoy this book.
One of the many things that make this particular Cardeno book enjoyable is main character Samuel Goodwin. Samuel is the son of his pack’s alpha and takes his role of presumptive alpha extremely seriously. He’s in love with facts and knows exactly how an alpha should act at all times. But empathetic he is not. Yes, he understands how he should behave, that part of being a good alpha is sympathy and compassion – unfortunately anything involving an emotion is lost on him. He doesn’t understand other people’s feelings and doesn’t recognize his own. Samuel doesn’t even know how to hug people; where does he put his hands? How long does a hug have to last? 2 seconds? 3? Some readers may find him a bit robotic, but to me his lack of emotional intelligence makes him vulnerable and even more loveable for it. He’s like a shifter Mr. Darcy. A shifter Mr. Darcy who hates Korban Keller.
The first thing I hated about him was his smile. Nobody smiles that much genuinely. It’s fake.
Samuel and Korban first meet when they’re eight and eleven respectively. Like Samuel, Korban is the presumptive alpha of his pack but in every other way he’s Samuel’s opposite. He’s friendly, smiles and laughs easily and is completely uninterested in the rules and regulations of shifter lore. But he’s extremely interested in Samuel. Samuel, aka Mr. No Emotions, finds such interest highly suspicious. Samuel may have trouble keeping his eyes off Korban, but he mistakes this for distrust. Korban confuses him and rather than deal with it, he assumes his discomfort stems from hatred, which is much more understandable than anything else he may imagine.
And therein lies the problem; it never occurs to Samuel that he may be feeling a more pleasant emotion. Samuel knows only facts and it’s a fact that males only mate with females. It’s simple shifter lore: men are more in touch with their shifter side and so must “tie” (sexy times) with a female shifter, who are more connected to their human side. It’s how shifters retain both their humanity and their shifterity (that’s right, I just made that up). He’s never seen any proof that two males may tie together and therefore the possibility doesn’t exist for him. Which makes it even sweeter when, after a series of dramatic events, Samuel finally realizes that what he’s feeling is love. That Korban is in fact his mate.
The feelings were already there—locked away, hidden, but there….[Korban’s] kiss led them out from the darkness where they were buried and showed them the light of day….For the first time in my life, I was where I was meant to be, who I was meant to be. I was whole.
If that doesn’t make you go aww… as you melt into a puddle of syrup I don’t know what will.
What I like most about this whole series is the way Cardeno deals with the ever popular shifter mates theme. As I stated above according to the shifter lore found in this series there is only one correct combination that makes up a mating; males and females. But Cardeno shows that not only can two men love each other, two men, even two species within the series, can complete each other. Wake Me Up Inside features a shifter and a human, Until Forever Comes features a shifter and a vampire and in this book we have two alpha shifters. Cardeno uses the Mates series to show that there’s more than one way to be “correct.” As Zev from the first books says (he makes a brief appearance):
Tying isn’t about males and females. It’s about connecting with someone who can better you, someone who can give you what you’re lacking, someone who can fulfill you and make you whole….We tie with our mates on all levels—physical and emotional—so we can become the best versions of ourselves. That’s what makes us complete, and then we’re stable enough to bind both our forms—wolf and human.
We may not live in the Mates world, but this is still a lesson the world needs to learn and a lesson we should take to heart in our own lives.
The only problem I have with this book is that I want more Samuel and Korban together. They have a few interactions early in the book, but they only start really communicating about halfway through. It’s even further on that we finally get to the smex. Once they do it’s wonderful but I need MORE time with my boys. Especially Korban. He’s a great character, absolutely loveable, but I never get to know him as well as Samuel.
Other than that tiny complaint, this book was the fluffy, romantic & sexy good time you can expect from a Cardeno C. book. Now I can’t wait for the next one. This time I may be willing to give up 2 fingers for it.
The Book Trailer
About the Author and the series
- Wake Me Up Inside (book #1)
- Until Forever Comes (book #2)
- In Your Eyes (book #3) – in this review
To find out more about Cardeno C visit the website.
Available for pre-order now. To be released on 14th July 2014.