Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share a review for the newest book in the Mad Creek universe from Eli Easton. HOW TO WISH UPON A STAR is the third M/M canine shifter romance in this series and I’m absolutely loving them. Check out my reviews for both HOW TO HOWL AT THE MOON and HOW TO WALK LIKE A MAN because these are books to not miss…
Also, don’t miss the excerpt or the fab giveaway below! A $25 gift card and paperback books up for grabs (2 winners!)
About the book:
Dr. Jason Kunik is working on the most earth-shattering genetics project ever, DNA mapping of a new species, the quickened—dogs who can shift into human form. The problem is, no one knows the quickened exist and Jason can’t betray them by publishing his studies. When he moves to Mad Creek to continue his research in a town full of quickened, all he wants is peace, quiet, and to be allowed to bury himself in his work. Perhaps if he figures how out the mutation is activated, he can silence his own inner dog forever.
Milo is a hospice comfort dog who has bonded with, and lost, many beloved patients in his life. He intuitively understands sickness and pain on a spiritual level most can’t see. When he gains the ability to become a man, he thinks he finally has everything he ever wanted. But being a man isn’t the same thing as being loved, and taking shelter in Mad Creek isn’t the same thing as finding a home.
When a mysterious illness hits Mad Creek and threatens all the quickened in town, it’s up to the scientist and the comfort dog to figure out what it is and how to stop it. Along the way they might discover that true love is possible—if you wish upon a star.
How about a delicious nibble…
Milo put a hand over the keyboard as if to break Jason’s never-ending focus. “Why ask so many questions, Jason? What is the work to do?”
“Do you mean, what is my work for? What am I trying to accomplish?” Jason corrected.
Jason tried to at least hit CTRL-S to save his progress in Excel, but Milo threaded his hand through Jason’s. By now, Jason was so used to Milo’s touch, he didn’t think twice about it. He held Milo’s hand. Milo’s body temperature ran warm and touching him was like touching a man-shaped heater.
“Well, Milo, I’m glad you asked me that. It’s good for a man to be curious about what’s going on around him. And I’d like it if you took an interest in my work.”
Milo gave him a look of disbelief. “Jason, I answer every question.”
It was remarkable how adept Milo was at throwing shade, seemingly unconsciously. Jason couldn’t hold back a smile. “Yes. You’ve already shown an interest in my work. Quite right. Well, to answer your question, the point of all this is that I’m trying to determine how an ordinary dog, like you were, Milo, gains the ability to change into a man. What triggers that process.”
“Oh, that. I know that,” said Milo, very matter-of-factly.
Jason chuckled. “Well that would be nice, Milo. But I don’t think you really do know. Not the way I mean.”
“How do you mean?” Milo squeezed Jason’s hand as his feet started to kick under the table restlessly.
“I mean the actual scientific process, what happens inside the body.” Jason waved his free hand up and down to indicate Milo’s physique. “Inside the cells.”
Milo looked befuddled, as well he might. “Oh. I don’t know that. But I do know why it happens.”
Jason was curious. “Why do you think it happens, Milo?”
Milo got a bashful look on his face and he leaned in to whisper, as if it were a great secret. “You make a wish on a star.”
Jason turned his face away and pretended to look out the window. Laughter bubbled inside him, and he had to swallow hard to keep it down. Milo was so serious. It was adorable. If you were the sort of person who found things adorable. Which Jason wasn’t. It really wouldn’t do to laugh in Milo’s face.
Milo continued, pointing towards the window. “You go outside at night and pick a good star. You look at it and make a wish. That’s how I became a man.”
Obviously, Milo was not educated enough to understand the difference between fantasy and reality, or cause and effect. Maybe he had made a wish and assumed it had come true. Still, it was odd. No dog, no matter how smart or sensitive, would think to look up in the night sky and ‘make a wish’. Did dogs even know what wishes were?
“This is important, Milo,” Jason said carefully. “You’re sure you looked up at a star, and made a wish, before you ever shifted into a man’s form, or before you even had any symptoms of it? The itching under the skin? The noticeable change in the ability to think or understand speech?”
Milo thought about it. “I could understand what people said sometimes. But I was just a dog.”
Jason hummed. “Who suggested such a thing? Did you hear one of the nurses talking about it? One of the patients?”
Milo’s lips somehow turned up and down at the same time, resulting in a sad little smile. “An angel told me to.”
“When she came for Parker. I was so, so, so sad.” His lower lip trembled and he blinked rapidly. He looked down and picked at a thread on his jeans. “She told me: ‘Oh little pup, don’t cry. Make a wish upon a star, and if you want something badly enough, it will happen.’ It came into my head what she meant. How to do it. So the next night, when Sally took me for a walk, I made a wish upon a star.”
Wow. That was…. Jason rubbed his forehead with his fingers. Sad. But also more than a little ridiculous. Where did he even start? “Milo… there are no such things as angels.”
Milo looked at Jason with his thousand yard stare. “But I saw them.”
“You saw them.”
“At the hospice. They come when people die.”
Jason felt a flash of annoyance. Probably some nurse at the hospice had talked about angels and heaven and all that rubbish, and Milo had bought it hook, line, and sinker. Of course he had. He was a dog. He would believe anything human’s said. “You, personally, saw angels? I suppose you can describe what they look like?”
Milo wrinkled his nose. His eyes looked past Jason as he tried to remember. “You don’t see them here.” He pointed to his eyes. “You see them here.” He tapped his belly.
“You saw angels with your stomach,” Jason said flatly.
Milo tilted his head and bit his lip. He looked at Jason from under his lashes, guiltily, as though he could tell he’d said something wrong, but he didn’t know what.
“I want some cheese,” Milo said. He stood up and wandered off towards the kitchen.
I think I fall more in love with this series with every book I pick up. It’s not *required* to read the previous two books to understand this one, but I’d recommend them.
This series revolves around a secret colony of canine shifters–collies, German shepherds, bulldogs, the gamut–who either became “quickened” (able to turn human) after bonding with a special human, or were born “quick” to quickened parents. This colony exists in Mad Creek, California, a tiny mountain town which is fiercely guarded by Sheriff Lance Beaufort, a collie shifter.
Jason Kunik is a quickened Malamute geneticist working for a pharma company in Vegas when he got a bad vibe from one of his superiors and learned his personal research (sequencing his own DNA to find clues about quickening) was under direct scrutiny. He fled to Mad Creek, the only home he’d really known, even if he hadn’t been back since high school graduation. Anxious to do something worthy of his knowledge and skill, Jason begins interviewing newly quickened humans, to learn if there is a specific pattern to gaining the Spark…and it goes disastrously. Jason isn’t a people-person, and he’s not a dog person, either. He scares away any of his subjects by being brash and obtuse. *sigh* (Not all scientists act this way!!)
Milo was a shelter rescue adopted by the staff at a Fresno hospice, and he’s miserable. All the humans he bonds with are dying. Lily Beaufort discovers him while visiting a friend, and dog-naps him back to Mad Creek. Milo’s so skittish and in serious emotional pain, only wanting a real home where he’s actually wanted. Jason takes pity on him and brings him back to his big cabin, for a few reasons–he finds Milo attractive, he feels a kinship to him as they are both rather misfits, and Jason expects that he’ll be able to study Milo’s growth into humanity at close range if they live together.
They have an unexpected tenderness to their developing friendship. As a care dog, Milo can sense the pain and suffering in others, and even illnesses! He’d been around so many dying people, he developed in a very different way from the “regular” quickened, and that makes him so unique and precious as a subject–but Jason soon finds that he’s getting swept away by Milo’s tender nature and compassion.
This book has a major outside threat: illness. A former Mad Creek resident returns–in his dog form–and he’s too sick to shift back to human. Quickened first responders are now becoming ill, and that includes major characters…the backbone of Mad Creek, in essence. Jason, Milo, Tim and Matt (from previous books) are put on the trail to an Arizona shelter where Patient Zero likely had contact with normal, but sick, dogs. I liked how this played out, with Milo and Jason coming to terms with each other, and balancing each other’s strengths. Milo seems to love Jason, and Jason’s totally afraid to lose his heart to Milo, even if he already has. I really wish we had a little more time in Milo’s brain, so we could see how his compassion was only one facet of his affection and growing love for Jason.
I’m not a virologist, but I appreciated the actual discussion of the disease, and Jason’s attempts to get control of it. He’s not a virologist, but as a scientist he has learned the most important lesson out there: admit what you don’t know. He seeks help, as surreptitiously as possible, so he won’t reveal the colony, but in a way that will gain him the knowledge and expertise necessary to solve the crisis.
This book will certainly lead to another, as there is a bit of a cliffhanger regarding Jason and his expertise, but the love story is sweetly completed with Jason and Milo becoming a stronger pair than the two were separately. I really would have liked a little bit more loving in this book–it was nearly 75% before we got ANY real sexytimes, and that was almost too long for me. That said, Milo is the sweetest Labradoodle on the planet, and I’m glad that Jason remembered no human–or canis sapiens–is an island unto oneself.
Also of note, I’m keeping a constant observation of my gentle Lab-Pit mix to see if she’s got any hint of a Spark happening. *sadly none as yet*
Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link to win one of TWO prizes! $25 Amazon GC (open internationally) or signed paperback copies of “How to Walk Like a Man” and “How to Howl at the Moon” (US & Canada only).
Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About the Author:
Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a game designer, an organic farmer, an avid hiker, and a profound sleeper, Eli is happily embarking on yet another incarnation as a m/m romance author.
As an addicted reader of such, she is tinkled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, three bulldogs, three cows and six chickens. All of them (except for the husband) are female, hence explaining the naked men that have taken up residence in her latest fiction writing.