My Rating: 4 stars: Enjoyed - strongly recommend (A-)
Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About
When Matt Mahihkan decided to leave his eight brothers, friends and home in New Mexico to move to Atlanta to attend college, his friend Keaton put Matt in touch with his brother, Aubrey. The pair connected instantly via texts and soon Matt was off to live with Aubrey in Georgia. When he lands at the airport, Aubrey’s fiancee, Tara (former Miss Georgia) picks him up and Matt’s senses tell him Tara is his mate.
Confused and a bit troubled, Matt worries how to break it to his new friend Aubrey that his fiancee is Matt’s mate. That is until Matt meets Aubrey and realizes that it was his scent on Tara which triggered the mating reaction. Soon Matt and Aubrey are fighting the strong pull to be with one another - but for different reasons. Matt wants to take things slow, never having been with another before. Aubrey wants to hide his homosexuality for fear that it will disappoint his family and ruin his business.
Oh how I’ve missed these sexy male shifters of Ms. Langley’s With or Without series. Although this book can be enjoyed as a stand alone, for those familiar with the series, Aubrey is brother of Keaton, one of the heroes from first book, Without Reservations. Matt, Keaton's friend, also appeared in this story.
In a world where m/m romances are extremely common (making me wonder how these werewolves are able to reproduce), I like that there is a realistic fear for Aubrey that coming out would ruin his life and his family's business. I also like that Matt is keen enough to insist on taking it slow. Aubrey and Matt have good chemistry regardless of the obstacles in their path, and the story moves their relationship forward at a comfortable pace.
There is a lot going on in With Abandon that makes this romance an exciting ride as well. Aubrey is the alpha’s son and expected to take over as head of the pack soon. He has a human friend, Carson, who is being harassed by a rival packmate and CEO of the family’s hotel business, Boskie. Aubrey attempts to deal with the situation, and sometimes I felt his choices would come back to haunt him (not telling if they did or not!). In addition, it appears someone is sending Aubrey threats against Matt. No one knows the pair are mates, so someone must be watching Matt too closely in order to pull this off. These two storylines intertwine and mingle, taking the reader on an thrilling journey, complete with a few interesting twists - one that I didn’t see coming at all.
Another great aspect of With Abandon are the relationships between several of the characters. One of my favorites is the connection between Aubrey’s father, Howard, and Matt. Early on in the book, Howard takes Matt aside and has an amazing heart-to-heart. Not only did it boost Matt’s confidence and help move the plot forward, but it put my mind and heart at ease, knowing that there was at least one aspect of Matt and Aubrey’s relationship that would go right, when and if they moved things public. It was such an amazing scene.
I could go on and on about every little thing that went right in this book. But in the end, it’s a terrific combination of marvelous story telling, mystery, action and romance. The story flowed well from start to finish, with the twists adding excellent tension. Aubrey’s internal struggles over trying to decide what was truly in his heart made for an engaging romantic plot. I genuinely enjoyed With Abandon and feel it’s the strongest story yet in Ms. Langley’s m/m shifter series. I look forward to more from this series.