Friday, August 11, 2017

Stone Cold Fox by Evangeline Anderson

Cougarville's mechanic, and resident Alpha fox, shelters a mysterious woman who ignites his protective animal instincts when evil forces try to tear them apart.

Jo Ferrell has been cast out of her home for reasons she doesn’t understand. The grey streak in her hair is gone, her body is younger, and there’s an ominous shadow chasing her. With nowhere else to go, Jo finds shelter in a shed whose owner she wants nothing to do with—but he’s too much to resist.

Reese Cooper has never felt a pull towards a woman like he does towards Jo and his Fox is desperate to claim her as their mate. After offering her a place to stay, Reese finds it difficult to resist his beautiful new roommate. But when dark magic threatens their happiness, Reese will use all of his strength to protect the woman he loves…if he’s not too late.

Stone Cold Fox is a fun, sexy, exciting read that will make readers want to revisit Cougarville again and again.

Author's Note: Though I have tried to handle the subject sensitively, certain events in this book may make anyone with a history of past abuse upset. Please read responsibly.

Add to Goodreads –

Book 3
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆
M/F Shifter Romance
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

Hmmm, where to start with this review? This was the third installment in this series and I had a much more difficult time connecting with these characters than I did in the previous books.

Jo is running. What she's running from, she's not sure – she just knows that someone or something is after her and until she can figure out what, she just has to keep moving. She is also a Juvie but doesn't know about this process, so when she's cast out of her community of women, she has nobody to turn to. She has had a rough past – being a survivor of rape, she has shut herself off from men in general. So, when she's confronted by Reese, a hulking man, she's not only scared, but wary.

Reese is a good guy. He's a fox shifter who wants to protect Jo, but given her skittish behavior, knows that he has to tread lightly. He is a mechanic by trade, but also has a broad knowledge of a lot of different topics, which just makes his more intriguing.

I think where I take issue with this story is that despite her age, being 40 years old, Jo is so naive and sheltered that she doesn't seem 40. In the previous books, the women had life experience, but used their life knowledge to learn from and grow. Jo is stagnant and isn't really capable of growth – she's stunted. The dialogue between her and Reese is also not very developed. They have very youthful interactions and it seems like a YA story rather than an adult one.

While the mystery is solved and the resolution is okay, I think that I just didn't really connect with these characters like I did with the previous books. I do hope that the next one is more developed and has more mature characters.

This is the third book in the series – and I would recommend that you start at the beginning of the series to fully enjoy this story. We catch up with the sisters and their mates, as well as get the foxy story of Reese and his destiny with exiled Wiccan witch, Jocasta (Jo).

Running through this series is the question of who and why there is an increased level of juvies coming into Cougarville, and this one has another twist in the tale too – which may be revisited in future books I am guessing. Whilst Sadie and Sam weren't keen on the idea of being shifters, they did not have the fear that Jo has of being intimate with the men they fell for in Cougarville. Jo has, however, promised to remain chaste after a terrible incident in her past – and terrible it truly was, as we learn. Therefore, the attention of any man is unwelcome and even frightening, so her reaction to Reese is confounding her.

Reese is the most incredibly patient man, helped by the confidence instilled in him by resident sage, Fiona. Keller is not so certain, and is worried for his friend – anyone who has read the previous books will enjoy this happily reformed character!

If you like your shifters both super hot and slyly cute, then Reese should press your buttons – he certainly pressed Jo's!

When Jo began the rejuvenation process, her fellow witches noticed, and thought her to be practicing 'black magic.' She was excommunicated from the coven, and set adrift. Being herded through the woods, Jo makes her way to Reese's property.

Reese is Cougarville's resident mechanic and one and only Fox shifter. He's a sweet, caring man, willing to literally give the shirt off his back to help anyone.

This is the recipe of a hot and steamy, yummy read, right?

I'm truly struggling with this story, and I adore both this series and author. It isn't so much the story itself, but Jo. While her tragic background, witchcraft, and the shadowy thing in the woods were the perfect vehicle to propel her into Reese's orbit, her actual characterization is a struggle to get through.

This is my issue in a nutshell, and I need to be completely blunt. At 40+ years of living experience, 20+ in a normal home life, even with higher education, and then 20 years in a 'yoga' community, where they visited the real world weekly, Jo sounds mentally and emotionally incompetent. It goes beyond naivety, being sheltered, or dealing with traumatic experiences. Her wooden, short sentences of inner monologue have her sounding childlike (not childish, but in actuality the mental capacity of a child).

"Get back you... you man!" (This makes Jo sound like she was raised in the woods for 40 years of her life and never around civilization.) This evens out after a few chapters, but it made the first few chapters feel choppy. Then, come to realize, while Jo may have been in an all-female yoga community, she ventured into town and no doubt didn't go around pointing at every male on the street, "You man!"

At first, Jo sounded as if she wouldn't be able to hold a conversation, go out into public, or speak anything but monosyllables. With her stilted speech and inner monologue, it was difficult for me to enjoy the erotic and romantic aspects of the novel, as if she was physically unable to consent. So reading Reese coax Jo made it feel as if he was a predator doing anything he could to get 'inside' her, added on top of that the 'mating,' the spell, and the magic of it all.

As a witch, who must believe in otherworldly things, she was so blankly in denial about anything dealing with herself, it was beyond frustrating to read. While I realize this was to slow the pacing of the storyline, so that there was a reason for it being more than a short story, it made Jo seem unable to consent to anything.

*"It must be the spell" but she felt that way prior to finding Reese.

*"I'm not a Juvie" yet she was excommunicated for looking younger, and she herself never once contemplated 'why' she looked 20 years younger. (Who in their right mind wouldn't wonder HOW/WHY they look 20 years younger, and when told why, would completely disregard it but not offer a viable reason?) She conducts witchcraft, never questions why she looks younger, yet doesn't believe the logical explanation as to the why of it.

*What rational 40+ year old woman would waste her last few dollars to buy coffee/tea when her companion tells her expressly not to enter the coffee shop. She's scared, has no money and no job, is living off the generosity of others, and just had breakfast, but she needs tea NOW. She does it anyway, of course... pandemonium ensues.

*When Jo ventured into the woods, I was literally done but forced myself to keep reading.

*Jo and Reese never once were curious as to who the man was in the woods, didn't even discuss his physical features. Instead of protecting themselves and figuring out what was wrong, they did a sex 'ritual.' As I said, Jo bought that, sex with the trappings of it being a ritual, because she is not mentally competent enough to consent.

*"I won't break my vow" but she kept having no issue with Reese touching her (any sexual contact would be the breaking of a vow, not just penetrative sex).

While I enjoyed the premise, Reese, the cast of characters, and the world-building, the childlike way Jo was written, compounded with the forced feeling to her ignorance, made it impossible for me to enjoy the story.

Another issue was how quickly I love yous were said. I realize this is a mating story, which I do find as a guilty pleasure, but Reese's Fox was thinking I love you within 'seconds' of meeting Jo. There is attraction, lust, infatuation, but love takes familiarity to build. I do this in my writing, and I implore others to do so – writers, ask your character why they are saying they love the other character. WHY do they love them? If the answer is physical, it's not love. Reese knew nothing of Jo to love yet. Reese wanted Jo, needed Jo, but he didn't love her.

Also Available in the Cougarville Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

For reviews & more info, check out our Buck Naked post.

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

For reviews & more info, check out our Cougar Bait post.

Evangeline Anderson is the author of the Brides of the Kindred, Alien Mate Index, and Born to Darkness series. She lives in Florida, and to her delight, she gets paid for having a dirty mind.

Connect with Evangeline

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Google+  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Stone Cold Fox (Cougarville #3) by Evangeline Anderson to read and review.

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