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Thursday, September 22, 2011

How Not to Date a Skunk by Stephanie Burke

How Not to Date a Skunk by Stephanie Burke
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (48 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Photographer Bilana thinks she can beat the heat and her migraine by taking her meds and getting out of the sun. But she wakes up to find her whole world order being changed before her eyes.

Chaska is a powerful Dakota warrior in full regalia, defending his right to pick the mate of his choosing. But when Bilana stumbles into a centuries-old rite, he finds himself having to save the beautiful black woman's life by claiming her for his own.

Now Bilana has an insolent young warrior, a set of elders, and a shapeshifter mate all invading her peace and quiet. She has to learn to accept change as it comes, but that's what happens when you learn how not to date a skunk.

I had a riot of a good time reading this very unique and intriguing tale of a woman and her skunk. In fact, it was so novel, it ranks up there with my Yeti fascination.

I liked how Ms. Burke set the whole scene up. How Bilana, the heroine, ended up where she was, what she saw, how she responded and most importantly, how she reacted. Each scene could have spiraled down into a cliché but not so for Bilana. I liked the fact that she had her moment of shock but was open, honest and adventurous. She had respect for The People’s ways and understood on a more intricate level than most other observers. It gave what happened after a believable feeling.

The description of the fancy dancing was bizarre, unusual and really cool. I can’t imagine how anyone could have done what the hero, Chaska, did. Physically, I think it’s impossible but that’s the beauty of a paranormal romance. The author is free to imagine and explore the most amazing things and Ms. Burke certainly did that in this book.

Chaska is a total hottie. He’s actually an alpha but I didn’t know that until I got to this really intense and action packed scene. The author wove a lot of detail into a wonderful moment of description and character development. It solidified that Chaska and Bilana really were meant to be, just like the elders said. And it proved that they were completely sexually compatible and perfect for the other. What that means is that a reader is going to find the hero and heroine having some powerful loving that’s sure to leave a satisfied feeling behind for a reader. It’s certainly not tame.

Even though this story is short, it actually was well balanced. I didn’t feel too much was left out except for perhaps some more background. I would have liked to know a bit more as to why the elders acted the way they did, or didn’t. The author made them ‘stoic’, but somehow, I don’t think they were. I would have loved to have had a bit more insight as to the ritual, the actual 21st Century purpose and an answer to the question, “is this the kind of shifter story where Bilana could become an adorable feisty skunk too?” Alas, I’ll never know.

What I do know and what the author lets a reader see is the growing of Bilana and Chaska’s relationship. There is a happily ever after and it’s still happening but as to what that entails, a reader will have to grab their own copy to find out. I wouldn’t mind a follow up book to see if some of those questions are answered. I’d jump at the chance to visit more skunk shifters again. They are a lot more interesting than expected and I loved the way the author presented the culture.

How Not to Date a Skunk is funny, adorable, completely entertaining and a fast read. I enjoyed the dialogue, loved the descriptions and definitely want more. I can tell the author took her time to do research but she didn’t hit me over the head with an info dump. The couch action is furious, delicious and well written. Readers are in for a sweet read when they get their own copy of How Not to Date a Skunk.

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