For fifteen years Maria Devane has been desperately, passionately in love with Dante Romano. But despite loving him with all of her heart and soul, Maria knows that Dante can never give all of himself back-at least not all the time.
Every month, Dante shifts shape, becoming a wild animal. During those times, he wanders far and wide, leaving Maria alone. He can’t choose when he shifts, the transition is often abrupt and, as he gets older, the time he spends in human form is gradually decreasing. But Maria, who loves him without hesitation, wouldn’t trade their unusual relationship for anything.
Since the beginning, she has kept his secret, knowing that their love is worth the danger. But when a string of brutal attacks occur in local parks during the times when Dante is in animal form, Maria is forced to consider whether the lies she’s been telling about her life have turned into lies she’s telling herself…
This blurb came from Goodreads.
I have read and own at least one copy of everything Ms Shinn has published with Ace Books so when I heard she was coming out with a new novel I was extremely interested. Then when I found out that it was the first of a new series called Shifting Circle I was even more excited. When we were offered a copy to review I could barely interrupt my happy dance to ask for it. I started reading The Shape of Desire during my lunch break and had to be reminded to go back to work. After I got home from work my plans to cook dinner quickly turned into eating leftovers.
Ms Shinn’s way of painting a picture with words was fully evident in her latest work. At first I wasn’t sure what I thought of the picture I was getting because unlike her previous novels this one seems more firmly set in “the real world” despite its elements of fantasy. I don’t think I was expecting that. Yes, real-world themes do tend to wind their way through fantasy but the very elements that make it fantasy also create a sort of a cushion for the reader. That cushion was nonexistent for me. The heroine had an actual life with a job, friends, family and her lover for 15 years that she has to keep secret from everyone. Unlike “traditional shapeshifters” who are human most of the month Dante is in his altered state most of the month so he has lost the ability to really function in normal society. Not to mention that one of the reasons he loves Maria is that he knows she will never give away his secret. But then a string of mysterious deaths by what appears to be wild animal attacks occurs in the general area when Dante is off wandering.
Dante himself is very secretive. Yes he loves Maria and has bit by bit told her some about his shifting but he has never appeared to her in a shifted form. He doesn’t like to talk about where he goes, what he does, or even what shape he is in. He also refuses to completely depend on Maria but shows up starving, dirty, slightly feral, and usually with healing wounds. His secrecy, especially when a death hits rather close to Maria, makes it hard for her to continue to have faith that she isn’t lying to herself about Dante and his innocence.
The unfolding of their past relationship through flashbacks interposed with their present day life together sold me on their love and trust. I also got the hint that while shapeshifters were rare, more exist than people think. Like Maria I have my suspicions about a certain 4-legged visitor she had. I enjoyed how Dante and Maria worked through their issues in a rather believable way. This book really made me think more then most do as I was reading it. It wasn’t the type of thinking that interrupted my enjoyment or my reading but it was a deeper resonating book that I think will stay with me for quite a while. Like I said earlier this wasn’t exactly what I was expecting from Ms Shinn but the journey she took me on was a good one. As an aside even though I think the woman on the cover appears younger then Maria felt to me, I really love how the cover speaks to the story.
I give The Shape of Desire a B.
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