I l-o-v-e discovering new authors, especially the ones that I've never read before but suddenly become an "autobuy author" (you know, the ones you buy everything they write) for me. That is exactly what I found with Gabrielle Evans. It is a completely unique shifter series that has captivated me. Leap of Faith, the first in the Moonlight Breed series, is a solid beginning to this series that I recommend to anyone who likes shifter romance.
It is a m/m shifter love story bursting with love, humor and suspense. Using an old legend of shifters being tied to the phases of the moon, Gabrielle Evans puts her own twist to the phenomenon. The shifters featured in Leap of Faith are different species, though each white, that have been cast out from their birth families because of a legend that says white animals are cursed. And though their species vary, they have bonded together as a family.
The hero Xander is the alpha of their family. When he first meets Braxton in the midst of a fight with his ex-boyfriend that lands Braxton in the hospital, Xander wants nothing more than to protect Braxton. And from that point forward, Xander is in constant battle with his (over)protective instincts as a shifter. When the author shows us his internal struggle with this, it is at times funny and other times poignant as it speaks to the ferocity of his devotion to his new mate. Don’t let his big size fool you… Xander is sweet, patient, caring and incredibly gorgeous (just ask Keeton, he’ll tell you!).
Xander knows as soon as he smells Braxton that he is his mate but is cautious not to spook him. And though the attraction between Xander and Braxton is immediate, the development of the relationship is not hurried as tends to happen in shifter stories. Well done, Gabrielle! Xander tells Braxton the truth and gives him time to come to terms with his new reality. Just imagine… Braxton is being stalked by his crazy ex-boyfriend, is saved by this gorgeous guy who just happens to also be a white tiger, and finds out that he is the tiger’s chosen mate. It can all be a bit much, right? So they take it slow. And Xander’s patience is admirable – it makes me like him even more.
While Braxton’s ex-boyfriend continues to threaten Braxton, Xander’s protective side causes Braxton to pull away as he asserts his need for independence. It’s a bit of a push and pull as they develop the parameters of their relationship – Xander wanting to protect his mate and Braxton needing to defend himself. Though smaller in stature to his alpha mate, Braxton doesn't allow Xander to push him around and Xander respects him more for that and though there may have been easier ways to solve his problems, I respected Braxton more for not simply bowing down to Xander’s shielding. They were a believable couple with realistic troubles, fun dialogue that clearly showed they belonged together and great chemistry… hot, hot, hot.
I would be remiss not to mention the fabulous secondary characters. Xander’s “brothers” are four very large, muscular and delicious shifters who are each screaming for their own book and HEA… did you hear that, Danielle? And then there’s Braxton's super funny and absolutely flamboyant best friend Keeton who gives us some of the best laughs in the book.
Leap of Faith is a great book worthy of 5 chocolate-dipped strawberries. Read it. And then, like me, you’ll want to read the next one (By The Light of The Moon, February 2011). I reviewed that book this past Sunday and loved it just as much.
This review was originally written for TRR and can be found by clicking on the following link: http://glbt.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=1541.