Honest Synopsis: Two sisters find themselves running away from their cult. Both have magical powers, although vague. They run into a were-unicorn. He sort of has magical powers, and a vague “nature calling” thing called a ‘rut’ going on. If the were-unicorn doesn’t find a virgin mate in time, he will forever be in the state of a unicorn, lonely and then dead. If the sisters aren’t careful, they will be captured by their cult and used for some sort of experiments about the future human race. Also, the were-unicorn and older sister are in love. Shenanigans ensue.
Finding the perfect book to read can be a hassle. I would like to compare it to one of the most simple, yet complicated, tasks I always take upon myself every couple of months or so: finding a new toothbrush.
Think about it. Every time you realize you need to embark on a new toothbrush adventure, you turn down the aisle and realize how many choices you really, truly, and honestly have just to do one thing — have teeth that won’t rot. I take my teeth care seriously, too. I floss at least once a day, brush twice, and, just to keep things a little fun and different, I’ll do a white strip maybe once a month.
It makes me feel fancy before I go on a date. Don’t judge.
However, once every couple months, I go through the painful process of staring at well over twenty brands of toothbrushes, all with at least twenty more types of bristles, all claiming they are the best for my needs. And they are all completely different. And the bristles always seem to focus on either the gums or the molars or the tongue… And, let’s all admit it, we kind of want to be amazing while brushing our teeth, maybe have a little flair of Princess Jasmine or Link with the words “it’s dangerous to go alone – take this!” (toothbrush companies are really missing out on a demographic by only marketing towards kids — one more thing America isn’t doing right (I doubt Japan has these issues)). I’ve spent well over twenty minutes in the aisle going between brands and genres, unable to make a decision for the fear of getting the wrong one which ultimately results in deformed teeth for the rest of my life.
And gods forbid these companies put all of these great qualities into one toothbrush. I sometimes feel as if they expect everyone to have two brushes going at once, one for the morning, another for the evening — you then spread it out to use each brush once a day to gain all of the powers you feel your teeth lack. However, these things are also expensive. Tamu always makes fun of me for being too frugal, but come on. The price of a toothbrush is the price of the toothpaste you use with it, which, by the way, lasts forever. When you’re paying more money to clean your teeth than to help with the flow of your menstruation cycle, something is wrong. I don’t mean to compare gum disease with monthlies, but let’s face it — one is mostly preventable while the other has a pint of blood leaving your system whether you’d like it or not.
And, yes, I know there are some birth controls that make it so you don’t have your cycle for up to five years (yep — a form of birth control that fakes your body into thinking it is just constantly pregnant for five years), but you can’t do that with gum disease, so don’t bring that into the argument. I’m trying to make a point without complications, so the factors of birth control in the metaphor won’t fit. Although, I suppose you can bleed with gum disease, too? I doubt they have tampons or pads that you use to help with that issue. If they do, good luck to making that look attractive.
I’ve lost what I was talking about.
Let’s get back to the original metaphor/simile I was going for: Finding a good book is like trying to find a good toothbrush. You get lost in the choices, trying to read the description to see if it is the right one for you, and when you finally find it, the item ends up being an anomaly — you’ll never find that brand/kind again. Crooked and deformed teeth for life.
That is how I have felt with trying to find the perfect romance novel. You read the back, but it is always something not quite what you expected. Romance novel excerpts are surprisingly misleading, full of promises and expectations.
Then I found it. The perfect blend of anything I could ever want, and there was no way that it could go wrong. Shifter’s Destiny by Anna Leonard.
Tamu and I had taken the slightest of glances at this book, completely judging by the cover. It looks like man with a horse, hardly worth a second look. But every single book within the Harlequin Nocturne genre was werewolves and vampires.
I blame Twilight. Thanks, Twilight.
So, we clicked into the description and about freaked out. We knew we’d chosen the right book when we read the last line in the description: “He may be no knight in shining armor, but he’s got the hooves to back up his claim.”
Get ready, folks, for the best (and probably only) story about a were-unicorn falling in love. — the minds of Tamu and Mallory after reading the excerpt
We start the book off at a prologue: Josh, near the sea, wakes up with an urge, an “itch” if you will. The dissatisfied feeling is telling him he needs to go home, and it needs to be now.
The focus is then quickly changes in the first chapter where we meet Maggie and Elizabeth, who are currently on the run from what can be considered a cult. They are within a bazaar, trying to get lost in a crowd having left their Community earlier that morning.
Elizabeth, Libby for short, is twenty-six years old and, after some disturbing circumstances occurring within the Community, made the quick decision to leave the deeds to her bakery with a family friend, taking her thirteen-year-old sister Maggie, short for Margaret, with her. Just as they’re starting to cut across from the bazaar toward a forest caged by mesh, Jordan, a member of the Community, comes out in the clearing to take her back. We find out that the sisters’ parents have been dead for six months, death seemingly normal. Elizabeth is suspicious. Probably because there were a lot of “natural” deaths within the last six months.
After some verbal fighting back and forth for a bit, Elizabeth quickly places all attention on her with shouts and movement so Maggie can get away. However, both girls are quickly within the group of men’s grasp, no matter how they struggle. A black van pulls up as Elizabeth’s long hair is gripped and held back to keep her silent…
And then, BAM, UNICORN HAPPENS.
I should say, the reader understands that it is the unicorn because obvious reasons — we’ve read the back of the book, so we are expecting a majestic, mythical, magical beast. Maggie and Elizabeth? They are too busy fighting to realize that there is anything added to what they believe is a normal horse.
I have an idea. Let’s play a game! It’s called ‘How Inconspicuous Is The Horn On A Unicorn?’.
Verdict? It’s not.
Now, borrowers are inconspicuous. Just ask Jim Broadbent!
In the midst of Elizabeth having her hair yanked upon and Maggie being overcome by two others, they don’t notice the apparently iridescent horn while he bowls over the attackers one by one. Once free, both ladies quickly run away, but are quite out of breath. But then the “horse” is galloping right beside them! Elizabeth easily grabs onto the mane and pulls herself up while they run —
Wait, what? No, seriously, wait a fucking second. Not only is she tired and running away from people she just fought with physically for five minutes after a long day of running away since before the break of dawn, but she just jumps onto the back of the unicorn with no problem? With a saddle that is a tough feat — this is bareback! Even the author admits she’s a noob at this! And she grabs her sister’s hand and pulls her up after her! It literally says “Elizabeth put down a hand, and Maggie grabbed it, like they had practiced the move for years, and she hauled her sister up.”
Maybe everyone is just…really good at life. Because I’d be fucked in that situation with that kind of morning. Guess I’ll just have to carry a knife on me at all times since there is no way I’d suddenly jump on a horse all mid-stride, Legolas style (which even he couldn’t pull off), and then pull up another human body without any problems.
Okay, I get it. This is a story about a were-unicorn. I’ll stop being all skeptical and accept shit.
So, they are brought inside the forest on the back of what they think is a normal horse. They still don’t notice the horn as they are desperately trying to keep their balance as they weave around forest debris. They finally make it to a clearing where they slide off of their saviors back to rest. Elizabeth deduces that they are at a reservoir preserve, and that they should be safe for the moment.
We are then told that it the Elders of the Community were the reason for their quick departure. The ladies had been summoned, and Elizabeth had an impending doom impression on the matter. And by “doom impression”, I mean that she has premonition dreams. And Maggie? She can talk to animals, calling them when she is in need.
It is by this time that they finally realize what Maggie had done as they stare at the beast that saved them. She had summoned them a full blown unicorn in her panic. Immediately, Elizabeth states, “There is no such thing as a unicorn.” That it is probably just a mutant deer. Even after touching the horn and finding it wasn’t a fake inflatable horn glued to his head.
The unicorn then collapsed to the ground, and the two sisters had to quickly clap their hands and shout as loud as they could that they believed in unicorns until he could stand upright again.
Just kidding. That’s fairies.
No, instead, the two sisters disagree as to whether their savior is a unicorn, and, despite Elizabeth immediately distrusting this new monster in their lives, they follow him deeper into the woods, Maggie asking questions while Elizabeth thinks of their next move. We find out that after their parents were killed by the flu, Elizabeth was having terrible dreams, finally causing her to tell one person she trusted what she thought was going on… in which the next morning he was found hanging from a tree. All signs pointed to a suicide, but, again, Elizabeth had her doubts, and now she was afraid of telling anyone what she thought was really going on within their Community. They come to a clearing and quickly fall asleep on a bed of pine needles under the were-unicorn’s gaze.
When they wake up, it is a man that is staring at them. It takes some back and forth banter, but Josh ends up telling them the truth of the matter: Josh is the unicorn. Elizabeth banishes the thought. They simply don’t exist.
Josh, on the other hand, immediately finds himself attracted to Elizabeth once he gets a look into her deep, dark eyes. His rut starts to —
The only rut I know is when someone is in a rut, which means that it you are stuck in a boring/dull position. Right? Or is this some sort of unicorn term I am unaware of?
TO THE WIKIPEDIAS.
Holy fuck. I have been using a sexual term practically my whole life.
And, folks, be prepared to have the new use of this term burrowed into your brains because it is used as frequently as someone who needs a bathroom break every five minutes after a night of drinking at the bars.
Josh quickly gets his rut in check, but he can’t help himself: he pops Elizabeth the question. No, not that question. The more normal one everybody asks within the first five to ten minutes of conversation: “I don’t suppose you’re a virgin?”
Elizabeth responds that she is not.
Maggie and Elizabeth then continue to argue whether or not a unicorn is a real thing. That’s right, folks. Maggie, who can talk to animals, having them at her beck and call, and Elizabeth, who can tell the future via dreams, are arguing about whether magic exists.
Let me write that out for you to read one more time: two girls with magical abilities they’ve had since birth are arguing whether magic and/or unicorns exist.
They finally make their way to the edge of the woods, agreeing to disagree, and Josh abandons them without ceremony. He then immediately starts wondering if he could still make Elizabeth his lover, even though he is only supposed to be with a virgin.
Men who only want what they can’t have, amiright?!
And while he needs to find a virgin mate stat, he decides that he just has to make sure Maggie and Elizabeth are safe. It has nothing to do with the fact that he wants to bone that older sister in the least bit.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Maggie are sitting outside the police station, debating about going in to tell them what has been going on. They don’t really have any evidence, and Elizabeth is old enough to to whatever she wants. However, Maggie isn’t, so…? Yeah, I don’t understand how the cult would have enough power to keep Maggie when Elizabeth is her only family left. But, that is the fear. And they end up running away as they see a familiar face walk into the police station just before they do, straight back into Josh’s arms.
I have to admit something right now. I’m bored. Like, really bored. Which is weird since a lot is going on in this book right now. Plus, how can this happen? This is a book about fucking were-unicorns. How can this possibly go wrong?
The girls go with the charming Josh to a motel room, hoping to lay low for a while and get some sleep. Josh could only afford one room with the amount of cash he held on him, and Elizabeth cracks a weak joke about not taking advantage of him. The heat crackles between them. Because, obviously, they both want to take advantage of each other.
The thirteen-year-old catches none of this, somehow. Which is really weird to me. I know that I was a late bloomer and all that, not fully engaged in wanting a boyfriend, but I was aware of sexual tension, and was pretty “in the know” of womanly habits. I may not have been interested in any of the boys at my school at that age, but I wasn’t dumb. This is the age (and sometimes younger) of getting your first period and discussing sex and what that all means. So, either she is a really, really late bloomer, or she is…well, dumb. And I mean everything-goes-over-her-head dumb.
Maggie races to the bathroom as soon as they are in the room, and Elizabeth explains that her sister isn’t used to roughing it. To which Josh replies, “And you are?” and takes her hand to inspect, like a work palm reader. He describes every nook and cranny out loud, then realizes how silly that is and gives her the hand back. But mostly because of all the electricity and heat between them.
The girls each take a shower in their one-bed room, and Maggie immediately falls asleep after changing into the new clothes Josh had gotten them whilst they washed.
Josh then explains that he had bought scissors as well. It is understood immediately that he means for her to cut her long hair, which was a defining feature that stood out in a crowd. Elizabeth nods, and they both agree that Maggie doesn’t need to cut her long hair because…apparently only Elizabeth stands out? Josh reveals to himself that it is mostly due to the hair pulling incident from when he first met her.
Josh quickly cuts her locks after having a daydream about the hair wrapped around them both luxuriously while making love, and he really doesn’t want to be seen with his rut boner. But he begins to feel guilty and stuffs some of the hair in his pocket for a touchstone. Which doesn’t make sense because it was explained earlier in the book that he doesn’t keep things in his pockets due to only his clothes reappearing after he shifts back from his unicorn state — his wallet, money, change, etc. never reappear if he shifts with them on his body. So, he basically is trying to have a keepsake that will disappear as soon as he shifts.
Which happens within ten minutes after he places the lock of hair in the pocket. He’s thinking of what he knew about meeting his mate, about how it was an immediate bond one couldn’t refuse, but that the mate was to be virginal, and then he is telling Elizabeth the history of how the were-unicorns came to be, and Elizabeth is arguing how impossible a magical shifter can be as science cannot prove it, and then he shifts in front of her to prove that it is, indeed, a thing that can happen. So…. good call there buddy.
She gets all turned on touching his mane and horn, he gets all turned on while she touches his mane and horn (but, thankfully, there is no description of actually seeing this happen), and then he turns back because a unicorn in a small motel room is worthy of a claustrophobia attack. With this, she finally accepts the reality of her situation.
However, now that she’s seen him in his other form, she can’t stop thinking of how disappointing it is that he has to have a virgin for a mate.
They quickly discuss how going to the cops isn’t an option. Apparently, them telling the cops that she is kidnapped would be an issue somehow — because a 26 year old moving from her location with her little sister right after their parents die of an outbreak of the flu is uber suspicious. And police officers wouldn’t at all tell the cult (that is already on their grid as “odd”) to back off if Elizabeth spun the story of her leaving her bakery business to friends to set off on a new life with her little sister, whom she has custody of. Nope, it makes more sense to just keep running away with the possibility of the cops as well as the cult looking for them both.
Elizabeth’s backup plan is to contact a fellow family friend who decided to move off of the cult’s community area some thirteen years back, a woman named Meg from whom Maggie was named after. While he tries to beg her of all her plans, she notices that she can see the illusion of his horn and mane while he talks every once in a while. When he dips his head, she can see the horn almost touch her. She gives up and explains their “community”, and how it started to change in the past year. After a good number of their members were killed in the flu, and their head elder was replaced with the now (evil as we readers know) Ray.
Maggie then wakes up from a bad dream, crying, saying “the bad animals are coming”. Which means that Maggie can now not only call animals, but she now dreams about them? Josh explains that he won’t leave their side until they are safe, and Elizabeth says she has a plan, so Maggie goes back to sleep without a worry.
They go outside of their motel to a bench to continue talking like a adults without waking Maggie. Elizabeth tells him the rest of their story, about Cody’s suicide and all of her other suspicions. After the long tale, they decided to get some sleep, but then Josh’s rut decides they should be making out instead, which Elizabeth is totally cool with.
They finally realize that making out in broad…road light isn’t a good idea, and they make their way to bed.
Fast forward to the morning, when Elizabeth gets a hold of Meg, who gives her directions to her house and says she can take care of the two ladies until they get on their feet. Both Josh and Elizabeth make it sound as if they are happy with this arrangement, but it’s said in that way that high school students say, “Yeah, s/he is cool.” because they don’t want anyone to really know their true feelings. I mean, you want to go to prom together, but what if they don’t like you the way you like them? Elizabeth even begins to have a moment in the shower thinking of Josh’s hands, but the moment is broken by her 13-year-old sister needing to use the toilet.
Maggie = Moment Killer
They walk the many miles to Meg’s place, where they don’t really reluctantly part ways again.
Except, gasp! It was all a ruse! Meg had been in contact with the crew all along!
Luckily, Josh has really good hearing as a unicorn, so he heard the screams after wandering away and galloped back. He stabs a few of the men with his horn, begging the question of whether a unicorn really needs to be banging a virgin with that attitude. They then ride away and jump onto a train, where we learn some more exposition of what Josh does with his herd. Elizabeth loves the idea of riding Josh. Josh loves the idea of being ridden by Elizabeth. Maggie is oblivious to everything and loves the idea of a unicorn.
They jump off the train and begin making their way toward Josh’s herd, where Maggie would at least be safe since she’s considered a child and is still a virgin.
Gods, writing this review is like pulling teeth. Perfectly good teeth that don’t need pulling. I hope something interesting finally happens with a fucking were-unicorn involved.
Oh, hey! Ray, the evil man from the cult, has sent monsters to kidnap Maggie! This has to be interesting.
Well, it’s not.
There are apparently three monsters that aren’t given any real description of any sort except that they are weird shapes of a cat and two bears. I think they were going for experiments on people gone wrong, but all I could think about were shadow blobs with claws. Josh takes them down in his unicorn form, but not without getting slashed a few times. The “things” are shoved into the back of a truck and are driven away in a jiffy, the two normal humans shaken by the monster that attacked them in return.
Which doesn’t make sense. Does no one see that this is a unicorn? He isn’t a man-bear-pig. He’s obviously a unicorn!
Who in the hell do these people think monsters are? Fireflies? Flowers? Algae?
So, Josh is hurt, and both ladies aren’t strong enough to drag him around. They quickly care for him with first aid, but they can’t carry him anywhere as he is too weak. He might die. He quickly makes out with Elizabeth to wash the worry away. As the “lead mare”, Elizabeth realizes she can force Josh, wounds and all, to change back into a unicorn to walk himself someplace safe. So she yells at him until he does because that is a better option than dragging him around with wounds, I guess.
They find a farm where a couple lives, one of the men happening to be a veterinarian. The irony is not lost on anyone, even the characters in the book. However, the couple realize quickly that these three are in trouble and are kindly okay with it. They stitch up Josh and get two rooms together, promising them that nothing would be discussed while they get together and get on their way.
When they get to their new spots, Elizabeth goes to Josh to discuss what will happen next. While Maggie and Elizabeth need to get away, Josh still needs to find a mate. He officially asks them to come with him to where his herd is meeting up, and Elizabeth agrees.
But it gets worse for their strained relationship. It is found out that if Josh doesn’t find his virgin mate, he will forever be a unicorn, unable to ever change back into a human man, as well as unable to ever see his herd again. Finding a mate is top priority, but he refuses to find her until he knows that Maggie is safe. Elizabeth urges him to rest, saying she will help him find his virgin, hiding her love in the depths of her soul where all dark secrets are kept.
Maggie overhears only part of the conversation, having woken up. She is listening through the door. Sad at her causing this fate, she decides to run away and face the bad men straight on. That will save everything!
I don’t know what else to tell you. It makes sense to this magical thirteen-year-old, I guess. Perhaps you have to be 900 years old in order to understand how to handle a situation with a magical shape-shifting horse-like being.
Since even I am rolling my eyes at this, and we still have a lot to go through, let’s just do the good ol’ bullet point list, shall we?
- Elizabeth goes to bed on the floor, assuming Maggie is still in her sleep
- Elizabeth has a terrible dream and yells for Josh in it
- Josh somehow knows she is calling for him and he gets up
- Josh is basically healed because that is a unicorn shtick besides the whole virgin thing–healing
- When he gets to the room, Elizabeth is finally awake, holding the covers to show she is gone
- They steal their new friends’ car to get back to the cult
- They also steal their gun from the car
- They sneak into the cult community
Oh! Here’s something! They are taking back roads to where Elizabeth thinks Maggie is held, and she calls him a Mustang, in which Josh gets all hot and slams her into a house to make out with her hard core. It is getting hot and heavy until they realize that they should probably pay attention to the issues at hand.
My favorite part is that Josh made Elizabeth carry the gun, and she stuffed it in her front sweatshirt pocket. So, they’re all over each other, yet this large, metal thing isn’t at all in their way, or worrisome to what they’re doing. Gods, the power of love. It just takes over anything.
Back to exposition.
- They sneak into the hideout
- They find Maggie in one of the rooms
- Elizabeth runs to her
- Ray comes out
- Ray reveals all of his plans
- The plans include keeping both Maggie and Elizabeth
- He also tells her that all of the Elders know what the community was about–which was making the human race the best it could be
- Maggie and Elizabeth are part of that experiment, but not with the whole “shifting gone wrong” part
- The flu was just a fluke
- Nobody mentions Cody’s suicide
- Josh shifts to attack
- Creatures are brought out and they fight
- Maggie is free and is sent to get the police
- Elizabeth bites one of the monsters, but it doesn’t mean anything–it is just really gross
- Elizabeth remembers the gun, but it is flung across the room
- Josh’s horn stabs Ray
- Ray dies
- Elizabeth passes out from a concussion
- Maggie hadn’t gone to the police and wakes her up
- They huddle over a broken Josh–again
- Maggie helps their wounds–again
- They leave the mess for the other cult members to figure out
So, the enemy is done for, and there is no reason for them to worry about the cult members and their experimentations ever again. After all, it isn’t like they had been doing this for generations at all.
Except that they had been. And the other elders are still alive. Which means that all of this could easily happen again since all of them are fancy scientists.
Hmm… I wonder… Oh, well.
They drive off into the sunset, and….
Wait. Josh is insanely hurt! Duh!
Maggie drives them while Elizabeth holds Josh in her arms in the back. She frets because Josh had chosen to probably become a unicorn forever as his rut is taking over, and they haven’t found him a virgin yet. They make it without any worry to their veterinarian’s house, where the couple don’t seem to really care that they stole their car, gun, and are taking advantage of them yet again.
They heal up their charges and let them roam free in their house without question, which means… BOW CHICKA BOW WOW!!!!
That’s right. Maggie stays in one room resting, and Elizabeth goes to Josh, who begs her to make love to him since he knows that there is no way he will be able to say no to his rut by the next day.
So, they make wild, passionate love. Which is super odd, since, although Elizabeth knows what she is doing, how does Josh know? Did he not have to be a virgin, so he has done this before? He’s just avoided virgins until that point? Because he definitely knows what he is doing. Even though both have concussions, split open wounds, and are exhausted from the past four days. To the point where Elizabeth is definitely getting what she hoped for — twice.
And, WONDERFUL NEWS! THE RUT IS GONE.
Yes, it turns out that the old legend was just taken the wrong way in the prophecy. It didn’t mean that they had to be with virgins at all! They had to have someone who was pure in love. Basically, just someone who is a kind and wonderful person.
In the epilogue, Elizabeth then also takes the opportunity to ride Josh’s grandmother.
It’s cool. She was in unicorn form.
Two Trashy Roses. One for being able to read the book and one for the were-unicorn. However, this review was very difficult to write as I didn’t ever want to talk about my experience with it. It is more like the type of thing you read just so you can say that you’d read a romance novel about a were-unicorn.
Most Anticipated Line: 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.
Most Anticipated Line You Hoped Didn’t Exist But Does: They had never had sex before, but they had moved together before, and she knew how to ride him…literally.
Shifter’s Destiny Soundtrack:
- The Last Unicorn OST
- Unicorn Zombie Apocalypse by BORGORE & SIKDOPE
- Unicorn by Basement Jaxx
- Unicorn by Weebl
- The Entire Sailor Moon Super S Series by Goddesses
- Molgera by Theophany; featuring guitar by Alejandro Pérez Heinze; Vocals and Flute by Laura Intravia