The novelty of a shapeshifter who is a mixture of wolf and domestic dog was only one of the things that set this creative story apart. The challenges faced by a gay cross-dressing half-breed could be a very depressing story to read but Arliss manages to find a few cherished people who appreciate him for who he is. Unfortunately, it is a challenge to survive the attentions of those who don’t. There are intriguing undercurrents in this sometimes spicy tale which hints at a much larger conflict that may involve the military but there is also a very sweet romance that balances the horrific violence that is perpetrated. There are several dangling ends that makes me hopeful that either there will be several other stories to follow this intriguing tale or that eventually this novella will be expanded into a much longer work. This is my first time reading a work by this talented author and I look forward to reading more of her inventive stories.
“Play Dead” by Mathilde Watson is a very creative paranormal m/m tale which follows Arliss Hemming, a male who has always been a bit different from the rest of the grey wolf shifter pack that he grew up with. Not only does Arliss have a propensity for cross-dressing but he is a half-breed because his dad was a dog. Arliss is fortunate in his grandfather but finds little or no support among the rest of the pack and his life gets even more complicated when he enters college. Dave Avery has had a traumatic experience that left him scarred and a bit confused about what he saw while he was in the service but he has found comfort and stability in acting as a security guard on a college campus. He does not expect to find Arliss and become attached to him. Little does he know how complicated his life is going to get but his introduction to the world of shapeshifters may make all of the challenges worthwhile if he can rescue the man he’s come to care for.
Arliss Hemming spent his childhood trying not to be noticed, outranked, and bullied by every wolf-shifter in the pack. College gives him friends, hope, and an action-hero lover, but the pack isn't letting go--they have a use for the undersized wolf-dog hybrid.
Army vet Dave Avery has scars from his last firefight--on his body and in his mind. He didn't really see an enemy soldier turn into a wolf--did he? Better to forget the battle and focus on his new love, the shy, sweet Arliss.
Life together could be magical--if only evil forces weren't determined to keep the lovers apart. Is death really their only way out?
CONTENT ADVISORY: This title contains scenes of rape or near rape and significant violence.