Title: Bitten by Design (Regent’s Park Pack: Book Two)
Author: Annabelle Jacobs
Length: 245 Pages
Category: Urban Fantasy, Shifters
At a Glance: In which a human learns to never say never, and it turns into a beautiful romance.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: When the last thing you want, is everything you need….
Seb Calloway isn’t interested in shifters. After his best friend bonded with one, he avoids getting involved with them—no matter how hot they are—to prevent the same thing from happening to him. Why take the risk for a few hours of fun?
Tim Walters is the pack doctor. Considered to be mild-mannered and non-threatening by pack standards, he prides himself on being able to stay calm and maintain his control at all times. Desperate for a bond of his own, he knows his interest in Seb is an exercise in futility, but he can’t seem to help himself.
When news emerges that threatens Seb’s safety, he and Tim need to fake a relationship to keep Seb safe. Despite Seb’s refusal to be anything other than friends with benefits, what starts out as pretend, quickly becomes more—for Tim at least. If Tim doesn’t want to end up heartbroken, he needs to prove to Seb that loving a shifter doesn’t mean losing himself.
Review: One of the tropes in paranormal romance that doesn’t always work for me, with either shifters or vampires, is the “bite = eternal soul mates”. It’s not that I don’t find the concept romantic, but that I’ve lost count of how many novels I’ve read in which the author relies on the supernatural quick-fix trope as a replacement to building a solid relationship in a way that makes the couple’s bond seem…well…romantic, not to mention believable. Bitten by Design is my definition of the ideal shifter book. In this series, Annabelle Jacobs hasn’t attempted to reinvent the soul mate wheel, but she avoids making the relationships in any way simplified by the metaphysical concept of bite bonding as well as taking the time to craft a relationship between the characters while they’re facing whatever danger other shifters can throw at them. For that, we readers reap the benefits.
In Seb Calloway’s adamant refusal to ever bond with a wolf—the way he watched his best friend, Jared, do in Bitten By Mistake—Jacobs sets up the first obstacle that pack doctor Tim Walters will either have to respect or overcome. In doing both, first denying his wolf’s instincts to make Seb their mate, and then proceeding with caution despite the fact he could very well end up with a shattered heart, it adds a bittersweet note to the attraction they feel for each other. Tim is kind and sincere and, above all, not the arrogant arse that so many shifters tend to be, so Seb’s stubborn resistance to Tim gave me an immediate connection to them—even if one of those connections was that I wanted to ask Seb if he was tetched in the head for not pouncing on Tim. But, I respected his independence and didn’t doubt his suspicion of the mate concept or his question of it being wolf magic that stands in place of true emotions. That alone, for me, is why the relationship building is integral to buying into this category of romance—I need more than bite-boom-bonded—and we get that in the issues these characters have to work through together.
The second obstacle that added a nice layer of danger and conflict to the story is the friction between the two principal packs—Regents Park and Primrose Hill, a carryover from book one. Keeping the wolves at bay takes on a literal meaning for Tim and Seb as they’re drawn into a situation of enforced intimacy in order to keep Seb safe. Handy? Sure, but effective nonetheless. Tim’s primal instinct to protect and defend the man his wolf yearns for is both sexy and grating to Seb. There’s no doubt Seb finds Tim attractive in numerous ways—but lacking the desire to make a deep emotional commitment, which would have the possible outcome of Seb himself becoming a wolf, is a deal breaker. The question, then, is if they can have a physical relationship without the strings of attachment bonding when it goes against Tim’s very nature, and this is when my heart decided to camp out in #TeamTim’s corner and claim squatters rights. Everything about him was courageous and loyal and sincere, and I loved him a lot, so it was understandable when Seb began to have some of those same feelings (#NeverSayNever).
With excessive amounts of chemistry between Seb and Tim, and a sweet and satisfying resolution to the conflict, Bitten by Design is another lovely read courtesy of this author. The characterizations and storytelling are easy to lose yourself in for a few hours, and I believe we also get a nice tease at the end as to who will be leading the way through the next novel. I’m more than a little excited about it, and can only guess what this is going to mean for both packs and a certain beta wolf I’d like to know a whole lot better.
You can buy Bitten by Design here: