I was a bit concerned about picking up this series at Book #13, but with a few exceptions I was able to follow the story quite well. It’s a delightful romp with matchmaking vampires, hybrid-gifted children, and our hero who is a Grizzly Shifter named Howard, the children’s much beloved daytime bodyguard. Howard, it seems, has a secret DVD collection. Expecting the worst, his employer, Shanna Draganesti, investigates this hidden stash to find that Howard is watching a home renovation show starring the amazonian Elsa Bjornberg. The matchmaking Shanna resolves to throw the two together by creating a home renovation project that brings Elsa and her team to the protected retreat where Howard lives and works. Between rifle-toting guardian aunts and forest animals determined to protect Elsa and guard her virtue and matchmaking vampires, the path to true love is definitely interesting.
Howard Barr, a bear shifter, was raised in the Bear Claw Islands in Alaska by his grandfather and mother after he lost his father at the age of four. Further tragedy strikes him when his human girlfriend is killed by a wolf shifter, enemy son of the powerful pack leader of the Alaskan wolves. Banished from his homeland, he is rescued by vampire Roman Dragenesti and finds a home with Roman and his family as the daytime bodyguard to their gifted half vampire children. For the first time in twenty years he returns to Alaska when he finds out that the wolf he killed for taking his girlfriend from him is alive and well and now the leader of the Alaskan wolf pack.
While he is away and clearly overstayed his first vacation in years, Shanna Draganesti investigates and discovers that he has a thing for Elsa Bjornberg from a popular home renovation show. Determined to bring Howard back from Alaska and to find a means for keeping him happy, she brings the home renovation crew to her home ground. Howard is already smitten and pretty soon Elsa, fighting hard against it, succumbs to his lure.
It seems that there’s a curse, though Howard and Elsa have heard different versions of it. Also it seems that unbeknownst to Elsa she’s the guardian of the forest and can control the forest animals. Her aunts are deathly afraid that Howard is a berserker who will kill their niece, and, determined to protect her, they show up at her work site loaded with bear. Attracted to Howard but afraid of the horror stories told by her aunts, Elsa tries desperately to resist Howard’s charm.
Howard wages a beautiful courtship. Donuts every morning, lunch time picnics, drugging kisses, and the lure of a ready-made family slowly but surely makes a dent in Elsa’s resistance. Finally, when everything seems to be going in the right direction, Howard’s best friend and partner in trying to bring down the wolves is killed and Howard retreats, feeling undeserving of happiness, but his wonderful extended family of vampires and shapeshifters gang up to ease his path and help him get the girl.
The thirteenth book in the Love at Stake series features Howard Barr, the were-bear!
Handsome Howard…Hunky Howard… Hot Howard…
It’s not every day that Elsa Bjornberg feels fragile, 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 was 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 the 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.
Read an excerpt.