- Release Date
- November 2012
Paranormal Romance, Vamps & Shifters Romance
Handsome Howard . . .
Hunky Howard . . .
Hot Howard . . .
It's not every day that Elsa Bjornberg feels delicate, not when she hosts a home renovation show where she can effortlessly demolish a kitchen. But from the moment she meets Howard Barr, this bear of a man makes her feel like a woman. And the way he looks at her, as if she were a pot of honey he'd like to lick . . .
Howard is not like most men. For one thing, he's a shapeshifter. And he always thought his celebrity crush would never amount to anything more than drooling at Elsa on TV. When his meddling vampire employer gets involved, the star is suddenly within his grasp—and within a hair of her life. For an ancient curse forbids their newfound love, and Howard is suddenly torn between his desire for her and his desire to keep her alive.
Jan 24, 2013 [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
138 people found the following review helpful
At long last, one of Kerrelyn Sparks' most loveable characters gets his own book, and a chance to show just what a phenomenal hero he really is. Better still, Howard's love is a woman who is just as strong and passionate as he, and their story makes for sizzling reading for series' fans and new readers alike.
Werebear Howard Barr is the head of security for the Draganesti family and utterly adored by both the Draganesti children. But Howard has secrets. Lately, those secrets have forced Howard to his hometown in Alaska where he is plotting to bring down Rhett Bledynn, the werewolf who killed his high school sweetheart and was responsible for Howard's banishment from his home nearly two decades ago. While waiting for him to return, Sharon Draganesti unearths Howard's other secret—his hopeless crush on Elsa Bjornberg, the host of a popular home renovation show. Desperate to see Howard fulfilled and happy, Sharon decides the time has come to renovate the family estate—and that Elsa and her team are the only people who can be trusted to do the job.
Seeing Elsa in person is a dream come true for Howard, and from the moment they are introduced, Elsa is fascinated with Howard's strength and his smile. But the moment they touch, the birthmark on her shoulder burns painfully—and an ancient curse flares to life around them; a curse that has killed women in Elsa's family for generations. But no matter how many times her aunts warn her away from Howard, Elsa can't deny the fact that he's already won her heart. Now, they will need to manage to make a future together despite an ancient curse, and an enemy who is determined to destroy all that Howard holds dear.
I'm not easily sold on the soulmate trope in stories, so it took me a while to fully embrace the connection between Howard and Elsa. Especially with the revelation about the curses hovering over them, it took longer than I expected to believe that these two were going to fight to stay together against the odds. I found them each such interesting individuals, however, that I was rooting for them both from the beginning to find their happiness.
Howard has made several appearances in the Love at Stake series, but this is definitely his book and getting under his skin, so to speak, was a long-awaited treat. He is a wonderful combination of strength and gentleness, someone with the possessive streak and self-confidence of an alpha with the gentleness to play with children and buy donuts for the woman he loves. His loyalty is unparalleled, clear even in his willingness to avenge a death two decades in the past. His heart is enormous, and seeing how much the war with Rhett was costing him was devastating, especially considering how hard Howard worked to protect all those he loved.
As someone who's always been significantly taller than everyone else, I was a fan of Elsa from the moment she strode into the story. I loved that she didn't hide her strength or her abilities, and reveled in her job as demolition expert and woodworker. Perhaps because she knows so well what it is like to be different from the people around her, and because of her admirable self-confidence, she accepted the revelations, both about herself and Howard without a great deal of suspicion or self-doubt. Instead, the curses and their legacy got a chance to play out, and their effect on these two descendants to be well-developed. I loved the stories that Elsa's aunts and Howard's grandfather told, and seeing how they affected the characters in the contemporary world.
The world of this book, from the Draganesti house to the colorful secondary characters, round out the tale beautifully. I think the most memorable were Elsa's phenomenally eccentric aunts, but with a series as strong as this one, every character brings something special to the story. The settings were fascinating, especially the wild beauty of Howard's native Alaska, and his family--and archenemy--who live there. Their battle kept the tension high throughout this book, adding a dark counterpoint to Howard's courtship of his Elsa.
I loved getting to know Howard and watching him fight to win the woman he loves. This is a winning addition to a consistently engaging series and will no doubt win new readers for Ms Sparks, as well. I will warn you, however, that with Howard's appetites, it's going to be a challenge not to get through this book without a few donuts to sustain you. Savor, eat, bite—Howard wouldn't have it any other way.
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