I am enjoying the Men of Haven series by Rhenna Morgan a lot, so when the publisher offered me an ARC of Healer’s Need, I decided to try this series. Trouble is much of what I like about Men of Haven is distinct to that situation and those people. Not every author is able to take me from one series into a very different one, but this time it worked. Healer’s Need is worlds away from Men of Haven, a paranormal romance where mates are fated and the only choice lies in accepting or rejecting such a gift. The book centers on a group of shifters with magic fighting to keep their people strong against one who has broken all the rules. It’s very different from the themes that I’ve enjoyed from this author before.
The other aspect of this book that differs is the connection between Elise and Tate. It is front and center, the main focus of much of the book rather than sharing the spotlight with another crisis. That’s not to say there isn’t a wider crisis, as I mentioned before with the oath-breaker. The sense of that concern is so strong that I became paranoid for Elise and just as willing as Tate to ensure she stayed where Priest, the leader of the Volán people, could ward her from his brother, the corrupted shifter. This proves the strength of Rhenna Morgan. Her ability to suck you into her world is wonderful, whether a contemporary one focused on corrupt politicians, drug dealers, and harmful laws or one where a clan of magical shifters accept their companion animal from the Keeper along with a particular magical talent.
This has largely been a review of the author rather than the book, so let me focus on Healer’s Need for a moment. This is an explicit, steamy novel about soulmates discovering why the Keeper chose to put them together. It explores the instinctual side of love and how the brain can undermine what instinct knows to be true by over-thinking. Fated mates can be used as a shortcut to creating a true bond between the main characters. That is far from the case here. The Keeper may have connected the two of them from the start with an instant, lustful bond, but that link requires both to accept and embrace it fully before it becomes firm. We get to ride along on that process, seeing all the ways people can chance losing their soulmate by failing to accept them as full and equal partners. The reasons each had for holding back make perfect sense, which makes the struggle all the more potent.
I jumped in on the series with this book, the second. It’s well able to be read as a standalone, with everything you need provided in the text. This is true, in part, because of the focus on Tate and Elise more than the crisis they must resolve, which largely doesn’t come into play beyond a shared paranoia until the last quarter or so of the book. That said, I want to go back and read Priest and Katy’s story now just because I feel a connection with the characters and want to see how their story came about.
I suppose the last sentence reveals more than anything else how this book worked for me. The clan’s world is complicated and has its own internal logic. The conflicts feel real while how each member must overcome their own challenge in a spirit walk before accepting their companion and connection to the clan’s magic is well done. Ultimately, the sense of place and people are what make Rhenna Morgan an author I’ll keep reading, along with the underlying messages of consent and a willingness to give people a chance. I’ve read most of her books as ARCs, but the writing is a little rough in such a way that should have been cleared up by this point, ARC or not. It says a lot that everything else is powerful enough to overcome that issue for me and make me a fan.
P.S. I received this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Note: Available as a pre-order on various stores until release on October 22nd.