Last Call Europe: Black Wolf by Belinda McBride
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Paranormal, Contemp
Length: Short Story (91 pgs)
Other: M/M, anal sex, BDSM
Rating: 5 Cherries
Reviewed by Buttercup
Siberians live for the thrill of the chase; wolves exist for the joy of the capture. On a foolish dare, Jasper O'Shea takes a gamble at the Last Call, letting fate chose his lover for the night.
Detective Brutus "Brutal" Ballantine came to the Last Call looking for something far different than a sly, clever Siberian Husky. Yet when the call comes over the sound system, he finds himself unable to resist the lure of laughing blue eyes and a happy tail.
The chase is on, but who is the hunter, and who is the prey?
I have found that good stories are ones that you are excited to read and they live up to your expectations, while great stories you are excited to read and by the time you finish, you are even more excited than when you started. Belinda McBride's Last Call Europe: Black Wolf is a great story. The first thing that I wanted to do when I finished it, was read it all over again.
I think that most people, to some extent, critique the books they read as they read them. It could be as simple as thinking I would have used a different word in that sentence, a fleeting thought that is gone by the end of the page, or something more habitual that leads to writing reviews online (and partial insanity, but I digress). My point is that most books that I have read, no matter how good, generally have something that I would change about them. Not this one.
One of the things that struck me the most about Black Wolf was the tone of the book. Most shifter stories, at least the ones I've read, have a sense of underlying tension to them. However, Ms. McBride seems to have adapted the old telemarketers trick of answering the phone with a smile, to writing with a smile. Throughout the book, even in the dramatic scenes there was a feeling of happiness, almost playfulness at times. It was as if Ms. McBride was inviting you to have fun and enjoy the ironies of life with her. It was a welcome change to the drama and angst that I have come to associate with shifter stories. That's not to say that Black Wolf doesn't have its share of drama, angst or intrigue, but it is tempered with the most unexpected comedy. The combination makes for a very enjoyable read.
Brutus "Brutal" Ballantine is a truly unique shifter in the paranormal world. A black wolf shifter that is a self imposed loaner, but even the most lone wolf is still a pack animal at heart. Brutal might keep his heart well guarded but he has been searching for someone strong enough to dominate him, someone that he can trust enough to let his guard down with and simply be.
Jasper O'Shea is a siberian shifter all fun loving and frisky but with some darker aspects to his personality that keep things interesting, a small reminder that this puppy has teeth. Jasper's personality is such a perfect counterpart to Brutal's. On the surface their personalities are completely at odds but they complement each other so well. The entire book is chock full of contrasts between the characters, their personalities, what is perceived and what is real. It is very effective in keeping the reader on their toes. Nothing was quite ever what I thought it would be.
I'm the first to admit I love when strong men show just a little bit of emotion so the first time that Brutal and Jasper have sex, well it's just too good for words. Brutal's first encounter with being dominated was so well depicted. You can really feel the gamut of emotions that Brutal goes through: the initial shock and anger, the mind-blowing orgasm, to the feelings of confusion and contentment.
As amazing as the sex was, what really struck me was what happened directly after. For the first time probably in his life Brutal is completely relaxed and at ease, at least physically, but his mind is a mess. He's trying to come to terms with what just happened, how good it felt, what that means for him, and he's wondering about the man who just gave him so much more than he ever experienced before or thought he ever would. This is probably the most emotionally vulnerable Brutal has ever been in his adult life. Jasper understands this and offers comfort fully expecting to be rebuffed, but he's not. In a singularly perfect moment Brutal latches onto Jasper, accepting what is being offered to him. Of course reality intrudes again all to soon, but I think that may be my favorite moment in the book, of course it's hard to say there are so many good moments.
This might be a small thing, but it makes such a big difference, at least to me. Ms. McBride explains the simple but very important difference between mated and bonded. I've heard both terms before, anyone who reads shifter stories has, most often they are used interchangeably, and while they have similar meanings they have one very important difference. Mated couples, i.e. ones of the same species and different sexes, can and do reproduce, while bonded couples, same sex couples or couples of different species, have the same emotional connection that mated couples do, they can't reproduce. I had never really given this subject much thought before, and it wasn't until I was reading the actual words that I felt the proverbial light bulb go off. It might be a little thing, but it is important to remember that just because you know something as the author doesn't mean the reader does too. Besides it's always fun to learn new things that apply to absolutely nothing in the real world.
I could go on and on, about how much I love this book. I could tell you about how fun The Last Call was, with it's telepathic wait staff and enchanted rooms. I could tell you how I loved the symmetry of the book starting and ending on Jasper's birthday, and all the fun things that you can do with frosting and candles. I could tell you all of that and so much more, but really you should just go and read the book yourself.
Last Call Europe: Black Wolf is a perfect balance of romance, danger, and intrigue, with some comedy thrown in at the most unexpected times. Belinda McBride takes you on a mind blowing ride that you simply have to experience for yourself.