Gareth has accepted that he is destined to be alone. The scars that mar his face are nothing compared to scars on his soul, and no shifter woman in her right mind would want him as a mate. His place in this Pack has healed much of his past wounds, but the first moment he meets Harmony his wolf knows this woman is what he needs to be whole. Now he just has to convince her that he wants all of her–moon-denied, mother, survivor.
The past is coming straight for Harmony and Gareth and only through their connection will they be able to move on.
Changing Paths is a very enjoyable read. Marilu Mann has a smooth and fluid style that really helps a reader get lost in her world. Her characters come alive on the page and are far from cookie-cutter. Her shifter world is very developed and easy to understand. Normally, I am not crazy about Pack politics but the way Mann structures her Pack and includes the Native American aspect creates an interesting dichotomy, one that I would really love to read more about.
I also simply love how much history there is in this story. Each character has a fully fleshed-out past that informs how and why they make certain decisions, but that past never overpowers the story. There are no large info-dumps or long lines of exposition. The story just unfolds organically.
I love that the impetus for Harmony’s journey is her daughter. That relationship is wonderfully developed. Mann really nails the mother/daughter bond that forms during the teens years and manages to write a realistic teen that did not drive me crazy.
There are a few portions of the book from Rain’s perspective, and while initially I was not crazy about that, the further I got into the book the more I appreciated those insights. The only other real issue I have with Changing Paths is I did not understand why some information was withheld from Rain, but I was pleased with the resolution. Additionally, there are some details and characters that (rightly) take a backseat to Harmony and Gareth, but I cannot help but wonder why little details about them are introduced. This in no way affected my enjoyment of the book, but did leave me at a bit of a loss.
While all of the other aspects of the book were well-done, this is a romance to the core and Harmony and Gareth develop a wonderful relationship over a relatively short number of pages. There is a lot that could have worked against this couple, but the scenes between them were incredibly hot and I was genuinely rooting for things to work out for them. Gareth is one of those heroes that has that tough exterior and tragic past, but is really a softy on the inside. The way he interacts with the children of the Pack (and Rain) pretty much insures his swoon-worthy status. While this is an erotic romance, the story never suffers for the sex.