Monday, July 9, 2012

Change of Heart (Change of Heart Series #1) by Mary Calmes

I had a great time at BEA this year and one of my favorite parts of the week in New York was getting to stop by the Dreamspinner Press booth. I found them at BEA last year and it was one of those perfect moments that make all the difference. I was walking through the Javits Center when I noticed their booth. It was colorful and bright but as I looked at the covers on the background, I realized that they were all gay fiction covers. I'm a married mom of four so I wasn't sure if I'd be welcomed or not. (If you've ever been on Tumblr, you might understand why- there are a lot of women of all sexual identities and orientations who read and write gay fiction and who draw gay fan art but they are often seen as "off" or "fetishizing gay men.") But the woman manning the booth asked if I wanted a book and had Andrew Grey sign one of his for me before giving me a business card and a copy of their catalog. I've never felt so accepted and welcome. I've been a huge fan of Dreamspinner ever since. This year, I was all excited to see Andrew again but he was too sick to come to BEA. I still made sure to stop by the booth and talk to the ladies working there. They sent me home on Thursday with a small stack of books. When I shipped my books home from BEA, the first books that I read when I opened the box were the Change of Heart books by Mary Calmes. I read a large amount of paranormal and always have so I gladly accepted this series of books when the girls from Dreamspinner suggested it. I read them all. In 48 hours. One right after the other. They were that good.  I recently read on her blog that Mary was signing at BEA and I missed it.  I'm so late to the party with this series!

Here's the Goodreads blurb:

As a young gay man—and a werepanther—all Jin Rayne yearns for is a normal life. Having fled his past, he wants nothing more than to start over, but Jin’s old life doesn’t want to let him go. When his travels bring him to a new city, he crosses paths with the leader of the local were-tribe. Logan Church is a shock and an enigma, and Jin fears that Logan is both the mate he fears and the love of his life. Jin doesn't want to go back to the old ways, and mating would irrevocably tie him to them. But Jin is the mate Logan needs at his side to help him lead his tribe, and he won't give Jin up so easily. It will take time and trust for Jin to discover the joy in belonging to Logan and how to love without restraint.
I'll admit that the first few chapters of the book were hard for me to get through.  You get thrown right into the action and this new, different world.  The world of werepanthers that Jin inhabits is so unlike anything else that I've ever read.  Granted, my main experience in the realm of werepanthers comes from Anita Blake where they have a social set up for their tribes that is pretty basic and I think Indian in origin but it never really comes out.  The world that Mary Calmes has built for Jin has this wonderfully rich and detailed society for these werepanthers.  It's lovely.  Once I got a good understanding of the world and Jin himself, the rest of the book was like the world's best hot fudge sundae.  I tore through it and was sad when it ended but was left with a satisfied and happy feeling.  Jin is a sweetheart.  I loved reading his story.  I really did.  He just wants to live his own life and make his own choices- and who can fault him for that?  Jin is a strong and intelligent character who has overcome some insane things in his life.  He fights the feelings that he has for Logan because he wants it to be his choice and he would not choose to go back to the oppressive culture that he was raised in.  It's heart wrenching to watch him try to find his place.  I just can't even form coherent sentences about this book.  I hope you'll join me again on Wednesday for my review of the second book in this series!

You can find Mary's story about Jin and Change of Heart came to be in this guest post on Book Wenches.  You can also find Mary on her blog and on her author page on the Dreamspinner website.  Change of Heart earns 4 Fairies for a lovely book about a magical world not so very different from our own with great characters.

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