Thursday, November 19, 2015

"Shifting Dreams (Cambio Springs #1)" by Elizabeth Hunter

About a month ago the author (who is one of my favorites) emailed me about perhaps reading and reviewing her newest addition to the Cambio Springs series. The problem was, I hadn't read it yet, although when I looked it up, it wasn't the genre I thought it was. I'm not sure why, but I'd gotten the impression this was a contemporary romance series rather than a paranormal/urban romance and fantasy series. So when the first two books in this series came up as a super cheap Kindle Daily Deal, I snagged both of them.

Fast forward to when I actually picked it up: I was pretty much hooked from the start. It always seems like there is a static heroine for paranormal romance books: independent, but down on her luck, single, usually (and boringly) of European descent, and usually pretty alone in the world, so the vampires/shifters/paranormal beings can scoop her up into their weird version of the world. With this book, the heroine, Jena, is already part of the paranormal world, when an outsider arrives to become their sheriff. She also has children (two boys), family, and friends who all live in the small town of Cambio Springs. Jena has a more varied ancestry than your usual heroine, along with more responsibilities- and it makes her so much more interesting because of it.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Somedays, Jena Crowe just can’t get a break. Work at her diner never ends, her two boys are bundles of energy, and she’s pretty sure her oldest is about to shift into something furry or feathery. Added to that, changes seem to be coming to the tiny town of Cambio Springs—big changes that not everyone in the isolated town of shapeshifters is thrilled about.
'Caleb Gilbert was looking for change, and the quiet desert town seemed just the ticket for a more peaceful life. He never counted on violence finding him, nor could he have predicted just how crazy his new life would become.
'When murder rocks their small community, Caleb and Jena will have to work together. And when the new Chief of Police isn’t put off by any of her usual defenses, Jena may be faced with the most frightening change of all: lowering the defenses around her carefully guarded heart.'

Caleb, being the token outsider in an insider town, had much more to adjust to. He realizes something fishy is going on in the town, but isn't certain what until he starts drinking the Kool Aid, so to speak. After he drinks said Kool Aid, everything becomes much clearer, even as what he thought he believed gets turned upside down. He was easy to relate to but I didn't find him as interesting as Jena, maybe because he wasn't already embedded into the culture of Cambio Springs.

Some of my favorite characters in this book weren't even really a part of the main storyline, which makes me want to pick up the next book right now and cross my fingers that their number didn't come up. Joe Quinn, who we meet on the first page, reminded me of quite a few 'characters' in my own family. There is an obvious set up for the next book within this one, but really it only gives you something to look forward to. I can't really put my finger on why this book hasn't made it to the four stars ranking, but despite the charm and excellent characterization, I felt something was missing.

Shifting Dreams is a genre-bending paranormal romance that has a wide range of appeal to niche readers. So you like small towns? Mysteries set in small towns? But with some romance? How about some outside the box elements? Perhaps some paranormal aspects? And add in some kids for 'aww' moments? If you answered yes to all of those queries, this will be an ideal read for you.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars for a great, mysterious shifter romance!

Content: Ages 18+ for violence and steamy scenes.

Page Count: 260 pages

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