Hounding the Beat by Sharon Maria Bidwell
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (67 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, M/M, F/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Voyeurism
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Xeranthemum
Bobby loves his work, but he loves his fellow police officer Chantelle more. Unfortunately, they work in the same department, and they will need to make some life-altering decisions soon.
Some lives have already been altered. Take his friend, Sam: a drunken driver has left him with a damaged leg and permanent limp. Sam's rethinking his career and his future for several reasons, one being that he's very much in love with Bobby, and more than a little in love with Chantelle.
If explaining to Sam that they are happy to consider a ménage relationship doesn't already complicate things enough, how is Bobby to tell Sam that he and Chantelle can turn furry at will?
This short story packs a powerful “Aw, shucks” moment because the author took the time to explore her characters’ emotions; bringing depth and feeling to the culmination of the happily ever after.
I liked the overall tone and storytelling voice of Hounding the Beat. There’s humor woven in during the dialogue exchanges between the characters which increased my enjoyment of this tale. The story is told in each character’s point of view so a reader can understand the doubts, worries and hopes that drives each one. The heroine, Chantelle, is a bit of a know-it-all but I liked how the author had Bobby notice and comment on that. By addressing it within the story, I could accept that omniscient aspect, mostly because at times it drove Bobby, one of the heroes, bonkers and he said so – not to her face though.
Another thing I got a kick out of was the scene with the hats. This story takes place in Britain so there are a few references indicating the differences between what I’m used to in America and what the characters experience while being on a British police force. The author explained through her characters in a very clever way and I was fascinated and entertained. In fact, just remembering the part with the hats is making me smile. It was adorable and saucy all at the same time.
Sam is the glue that will eventually balance out the relationship, but before that can happen Ms. Bidwell has a reader getting to know him by exploring the internal conflicts that plague the second hero. Sam is the character that pulled my heartstrings the most. He’s been through so much and was determined to ignore his internal pain to do the right thing. That’s strength of character a reader can respect.
When Sam, Bobby and Chantelle explore the physical side of their fledgling ménage relationship, it alternates between tender, passionate and scorching hot; but the author never lost the emotional drama in the midst of it. A reader knows that the skin on skin wasn’t based on lust, but a growing love and sharing of trust and hope. After the sheets got a work out I was so happy for Sam because at that point I recognized when he realized that what Bobby and Chantelle were offering was real and special. It’s what romance is all about.
Protect and Serve: Hounding the Beat is a delightful saucy romp on the paranormal side packed with heart and heat in a short story sure to entertain. I enjoyed getting to know the three characters and liked how the author explored them enough so readers can connect and relate to their emotions. Many times throughout I found myself smiling and a few scenes had me fanning myself. Ms. Bidwell wrote a very engaging story and I’m thrilled I got to read it.