Honest Synopsis: A woman and her sister on the run from their cultish “Community” are rescued by a horse which turns out to be a unicorn. This unicorn is also a man; making him a were-unicorn. Both sisters have special gifts, the younger one can call animals, the older one has prophetic dreams. The unicorn man is in a rut (horse term for sexual frustration) and it is only a matter of time before he reverts to full unicorn if he doesn’t find a mate. He believes as everyone else does that unicorns need to find a virgin. He is however, drawn to the sisters, especially the older one, who sadly is not a virgin, but there just something about her. He vows to get them to safety, even though it could mean he will be locked in unicorn form forever. Can he save them, himself, and overcome his desire for the non-virgin sister before it’s too late? Probably.
Oh yeah, there are some other paranormalities in this Twilight meets Breaking Amish romance.
You guys are probably thinking, “Were-unicorn romance novel? Slam dunk, Tam.” That’s the thought I had when we found the book! Ask Mallory, who has made the unicorn my spirit animal by leaving all things unicorn on my desk for the past two years; I thought this was meant to be! Writing this review, however, not a slam dunk. I have done everything humanly possible this week to delay writing this review; cleaning my house, washing my car, washing my hair, laundry, drinking, watching a Property Brothers marathon, even helping old ladies across the street, you name it! When I chose this life of reading and writing about romance, I knew I would be reading some far-fetched storylines. Shifter’s Destiny, by Anna Leonard, my first way-out-in-left-field-what-the-bleep-is-this-really-a-thing book has made me the proverbial virgin in this unicorn romance novel.
Elizabeth (26) and her younger sister Maggie (13) are running away from their cult-like community ingeniously named the Community. They are chased by the main elder’s hooligan’s and cornered when suddenly a horse bursts through the fence and rescues them, taking them into the woods. By the way, neither of them has ever ridden a horse before, but for Elizabeth, jumping on a horse and riding bareback, comes naturally. Once their adrenaline wears off and they are relatively safe they realize the horse has a horn! After some arguing between the sisters on the legitimacy of what they are seeing, they decided after some not so gentle nudging by the unicorn to move deeper into the woods, because to quote Elizabeth, “There was so much crazy in her life, what was taking directions from a unicorn at this point.” Eventually they fall asleep in a bed of leaves or something that the unicorn made for himself. The unicorn standing watch over them.
The next day this dude pops up and the unicorn is gone. Maggie figures it out first that the man and unicorn are one in the same, and asks if he is a man, or a man who turns into a unicorn? Sadly he is not described as looking like any of my three hotties from my Waking Up Married post. This guy, Josh Mustang–yes, you read correctly–he is just annoyed by these chicks and their nattering. He is hooves deep in his rut which “demanded he move, that he find his mate, and complete the natural cycle of the Mustang”, stopping to help these sisters was the last thing he wanted.
A quick sidebar, I had to look up what a rut was because I only know a rut to be a stagnant period of doing the same thing over and over. Well according to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, a rut is, sexual excitement in a mammal especially when periodic. Sweet, fancy Moses! I was not expecting that. Next time I hear someone use the term, I will have to ask for clarification otherwise, it could get awkward.
So Josh learns that Maggie can call animals and that she called him, which he refuses to believe because (this is the best line in the book), “No Mustang ever answered to any call but their own desires.” About five minutes later Josh realizes he is attracted to Elizabeth, she was a stranger whose eyes heated both his imagination and his body. So he asks her bluntly if she was a virgin because virgins and unicorns go together like peas and carrots. Sadly she is not, so he has to push his “feelings” down.
Throughout this book we learn that Josh’s rut is a lot like blue balls. Don’t believe me, here is a fantastic book quote, “The rut was inevitable, undeniable and a pain in the…He swore and adjusted his jeans for comfort as he walked.” His rut also includes managing the urge shift in to his unicorn form. For Josh, the sooner he gets rid of Maggie and Elizabeth, the sooner he can find his virgin/horse lady soul mate. He drops them off at the nearest town and hit the bricks. Then he comes back because he sensed the sisters maybe in danger and decides to get them to a truly safe place.
They check into a motel and Josh suggests the sisters change their appearance so they can get out of town unrecognized. He buys them new clothes and a pair of scissors to cut Elizabeth’s hair. He of course helps her cut her long mane and creepily pockets a lock of it. In between moments of hardness, Josh tells Elizabeth the history of the unicorn, how the white man tried to destroy his kind and shifts in front of her proving once and for all that he is a shifter unicorn or were-unicorn. They then have an odd erotic moment when while in his unicorn form, Elizabeth touches his horn (the one on top of his head…geez, even that sounds dirty). For Josh, “her hand on his horn was possibly the most erotic thing he had ever felt and felt a quiver from his hooves to his ears.” It’s not bestiality cause he’s also a man?
At this point Elizabeth begins to wonder if what they say about horses transfers over to human form. You’ll have to wait to find out if this story ends like a particular infamous sex show down in Tijuana (look it up yourselves).
Maggie asleep most of this time wakes up in a panic about “bad animals” which prompts Elizabeth to spill the deets on their cliché named separatist enclave called the Community. They basically has a no TV/media rule but went to public schools, and owned businesses. Apparently there was a flu epidemic that wiped out much of population in the Community including Elizabeth and Maggie’s parents, the lead elder, and sundry. This other dude named Ray was voted in as the new lead elder. Ray gave Elizabeth the creeps, she felt like Ray wanted to marry Maggie or use her powers somehow. Elizabeth told her then boyfriend Cody about her concerns and Cody wound up murdered by Ray’s flunkies.
After she tells her story, of course Josh is hard and can’t fight the feeling, but the feeling is different this time, not irritating, just sexy. So they have this intense kiss and it takes everything in him not to bone her in the street or something. I am so grateful that in all the stories I read, these men do show restraint and are selective in where they choose to get their sexy on.
Once again, Josh drops Elizabeth and Maggie off at the home of a family friend only to have to rescue them again. He ends up killing a couple of Ray’s flunkies as a unicorn, no moral guilt that way. Josh decides the sisters should go with him and join his herd where they would be protected. So they hop a box car and head I guess towards his herd.
On the train, Josh tells the sisters that women are the true leaders of the herd and that his grandmother is the lead mare of his. Both Josh and Maggie agree that Elizabeth would make an awesome lead mare. Ten minutes later they have to jump on unicorn Josh to get of the moving train. During this time of urgency, Elizabeth has sexy thoughts and, “suddenly understood the eroticism of horseback riding, although she suspected her feelings were slightly different than most.” What saves her from being a deviant is that he is manicorn.
They are in the middle of a field or something and the “bad animals” that Maggie keep chirping about finally make their appearance. They are not described well, so I will call them ManBearPigs because they are amalgams of other creatures like a bear and a wolf, cat and man, etc. Unicorn Josh tries to battle them while Elizabeth and Maggie hide up a tree. Two of Ray’s human flunkies were about shoot and injured unicorn Josh when the real scope of Maggie’s powers are revealed. She can control humans under duress! So Maggie tells he baddies they should be scared of Josh, they should run…and they run.
Felled from the attack, unicorn Josh still manages to get hard whenever Elizabeth comes around. Damn that rut! Maggie tells Elizabeth to boss unicorn Josh around to make him shift into manicorn Josh aka, Josh, because she is the lead mare. WTF?! This is the life lesson I learned from this book and it is hard to believe I actually found one: Boss a man around and they will follow you anywhere. I have seen this on reality TV, not just bad ones like Bridezillas, but on tame shows like House Hunters. Men will buy over budget houses for their bossy, bitchy wife JUST to make her happy. I don’t think I have the energy to be a bitch 24/7 which explains a lot about my current romantic state.
Back to the book, the sisters and manicorn Josh come across a farm with a couple who are actually nice and help them. Turns out the husband used to be a veterinarian. Lucky break! So manicorn Josh is patched up, Maggie and Elizabeth are fed and enjoying these nice people and their hospitality. Elizabeth visits a recuperating manicorn Josh and he dishes on the sacrifice he’s made to save the sisters. He tells her his time as a manicorn is running out, soon he will just be a unicorn if he doesn’t find his virgin/horse lady soul mate. Elizabeth feels guilty that he chose to help them over himself and vows to help him with his search, even though she is in love with him and his rut inexplicably quiets when she is near manicorn Josh. I fear these two are doomed never to be together 😦
Maggie overhears them and in her 10-year-old wisdom the 13-year-old stupidly runs back to the Community because it is her fault everyone is in this mess. Of course, Elizabeth and manicorn Josh have to save her.
Maggie, a prisoner of Ray, learns that Elizabeth and manicorn Josh are on their way to save her. Somewhere outside on the way to Ray’s hideout, Elizabeth tells manicorn Josh, “No matter what form you’re in, you’re Mustang. Herd stallion, protector of yearlings and smasher of monsters.” These corny words were all manicorn Josh needed for his panties to drop. Suddenly they are making out against the wall of a house, on their way to rescue Maggie, because why not?
They confront Ray, who is kind of a mad scientist. Using the all of towns folks tissue to make ManBearPigs. Apparently it was work her grandfather and other town founders, including her parents were into. Manicorn Josh shifts into unicorn Josh and fights some humans and I think some ManBearPigs, Elizabeth also gets attacked by one as well.
Ray and his ManBearPigs were killed, unicorn Josh, now manicorn Josh is potentially fatally injured at this point. Elizabeth pulls a Prince Charming and kisses “dying” manicorn Josh, who starts to perk up. Maggie gets to drive Elizabeth and manicorn Josh back to the veterinarian doctor who patches him up.
With everyone asleep Elizabeth decides to go for it and get her freak on with manicorn Josh before it’s too late and he marries his virgin/horse lady soul mate. They get it started, and the question we have been wanted answered since this journey began is answered as follows (it is worth italicizing),
“…having also rid himself of his own jeans in the process, and her breath caught in her throat. Not quite hung like a stallion, no, but she was just as thankful for that–what he brought with him was in this form was more than pleasing.”
Go manicorn Josh! Get you some Elizabeth!
They have an epic orgasm where they become one, or feel each other, or something and POOF! The rut is gone. It is amazing how sex can clear that up! Turns out Elizabeth was the virgin/horse lady soul mate all along. Her purity to love in spite of what came her way was what captured unicorn Josh. That was the basic point. Read it for yourself for the specifics. I dare you!
This book also had an epilogue where Elizabeth and Maggie join manicorn Josh’s herd and Elizabeth nervously meets the lead mare who is also Josh’ grandmother while riding his unicorn sister. Meeting her approval, manicorn Josh’s ladicorn grandmother welcomes Elizabeth home.
Awesomely head-shaking quotes:
- “If I put my horn in your lap…” (page 82)
- “Nothing at all like a wolf,” he said affronted. That was worse than being called a horse! (page 94)
- “So you’re a were-unicorn. One of a pack f them, apparently, roaming the American West.” (page 97)
- She was lead mare. He would follow her anywhere. (page 199)
- “Step into my parlor said the spider to the fly…” Elizabeth said softly. “I swat spiders with my tail,” Josh said flatly. (page 239)
- They had never had sex before, but they had moved together before, and she knew how to ride him…literally. (page 271)
While not in my wheelhouse, Shifter’s Destiny didn’t completely suck. There were a couple of unanswered questions, namely, if everyone in the Community was a part of the experiment, are there ManBearPigs of Maggie, Elizabeth, and their parents? I was expecting the biggest and baddest one to be a hybrid with the face of their mother or something making for a tearful farewell as unicorn Josh murders it with this horn. Another is why was Maggie so damn childlike? She went to regular school, just didn’t have internet or TV at home. Is that what happens when you don’t have TV or the internet at home? You think and act like a 10-year-old? A final question is what happens when Maggie “becomes a woman” in a few months? Does she get her pick of the young stallions? Will she just tell whichever she likes best that they have to marry her because she can control animals?
I am sure Mallory will provide more insights into shifters and whatnot since she reads more of this genre than I do, well maybe not shifter romance, but shifter general whatever that is. This was a tough one to write about but I am glad I did, I learned what a rut is and that you have to boss men around.
There was plenty of action in this book which didn’t make sense sometimes but it moved the story along, and a lot of “fighting urges” which I guess is par for the course when you are battling a rut. If you are into paranormal romance like Twilight, then this book is for you because let’s face, there are hottie vampires and werewolves, even hottie elves, why not a hottie unicorn?
Rating: 2 out of 5 trashy roses