Prickly Business

Prickly Business - Piper Vaughn, Kenzie Cade Full release day review originally posted at Sinfully...Addicted to All Male Romance

This slow burn, enemies to lovers is a good start to the new Portland Pack Chronicles series.

Hedgehog shifter Avery is a privileged, self-absorbed, southern diva who hasn’t worked a day in his life and lives on a large allowance from his parents as he waits for his trust fund to kick in. His relationship with his family is not good and getting worse. Having graduated college, he is living in Portland with permission of the local wolf pack’s alpha, who also happens to be the father of his best friend Jaden. He does not fit in with the pack and most of them don’t like him. Hedgehogs are not pack animals and although Avery enjoys clubbing and spending time with his friends, he often needs time alone to recharge.

Wolf shifter Dylan is blue collar all the way. He owns his business customizing motorcycles, and works with his friends and packmates Lucas, Sawyer and Kyle. The men have grown up together and are more like brothers. Dylan is one of the strongest wolves in the pack and is the son of a beta. While he is close with his mother, his relationship with his father is antagonistic at best and he has based all his ideas of mating on the flawed relationship his parents have, leaving him happy to stay single. While his wolf yearns for Avery, Dylan has no intention of taking his mate.
As rare as it is for destined mates to find each other, it is even more of a rarity for it to be an interspecies mating. Avery’s prickly hedgehog couldn’t be more different from Dylan’s wolf. Their first meeting at a party does not go well, Avery looking down his nose at Dylan and Dylan teasing Avery. Two years later the two are doing their best to ignore each other even as their animals clearly want to be with their mate. A chance meeting at a bar once again triggers their mating instincts and when Dylan saves Avery from a couple of thugs Dylan can’t resist his wolf’s need to protect and help his mate.

The story is told through dual points of view. Down to earth Dylan is easy to like right away, but with Avery it takes a little time to find anything worth liking under his designer clothes and defensive verbal attacks. Once Avery is forced to change his lifestyle and starts working for the pack, he quickly charmed me. Even before that there is a peek at the real Avery under all the haughty overtones. One scene early in the story where they are both in their shifted forms at the same time was not only adorable, but it cemented their connection for me as I could clearly picture Dylan’s wolf protecting Avery’s terrified hedgehog.

I love a good slow burn, especially when the payoff is as explosive as it is here, but these two characters were so stubborn, I wondered at times if they ever would get together. But of course, get together they do and there is knotting! I know this appeals to many fans of shifter stories and I am almost embarrassed to admit that up until now I’ve been a knotting story virgin, but I found that it was a small detail that definitely added more depth to not just the physical, but the emotional connection. There is not a lot of sex in the book, but the scenes that are in there are well worth waiting for.

The naturally opposing natures of Avery and Dylan’s animals, as well as residual mistrust from their first meeting, lead to a number of misunderstandings and a huge “too stupid to live” moment on Avery’s part as he gets involved in trying to find out what happened to an elderly pack member’s missing daughter. The mystery kept me wondering what was going on and it forms a large part of the story. While there is headway made in finding out who is behind her disappearance, the story line will be carried over into the next book which apparently will again feature Avery and Dylan, although there are a few other potential future couples hinted at in this book.

At the end Avery and Dylan are moving on to the next step in their relationship and while they appear to be a very solid couple, there are a lot of changes in store and I am looking forward to seeing just how they will deal with them.